Consider this scenario: You walk into your office one day carrying a book on management. Your employees groan, roll their eyes and make snide remarks about change coming to the office. If this has happened to you, it is likely because change has been mishandled in the past.

It's not unusual for a boss in a financial services practice to impose office-altering changes after he or she reads new books or attends conferences, but the changes often are mismanaged and could have a devastating effect on the firm in the long run.

Most office employees resist change, and some actively fight it. It requires a new learning curve. It means a loss of productivity during the learning phase and it means a disruption in daily activities. Therefore, unless there is an overwhelming reason for change, most employees will be uncomfortable with it.

Some employees may feel threatened by change. This may be a reaction to a loss of control or a perception that their job is going to go away once the change is effected. For this reason and others, implementing change in an office environment requires careful preparation and sensitivity to the perception of those who will be affected by it.

You cannot sell change to your employees. Selling change to employees is not a sustainable strategy for success. When office workers listen to the boss "selling them" on some revolutionary new way of doing things, most will smile and appear to accept the news, but quietly to themselves are saying, "No way is this going to work."

Change needs to be understood and managed in a co-operative environment. Instead of selling change, the owner or manager should be focused on being a settling influence as change is introduced. Firm owners and/or managers need to check that people affected by change agree with or at least understand the need for it, have a chance to decide how it will be managed, and to be involved in the planning and implementation.

What if change needs to be made quickly? If change is needed quickly, the first step is to probe the reasons why. Is the urgency real? Will the effects of agreeing to a more reasonable timeframe be more disastrous than trying to push through a quick change? Quick changes often lead to problems later, including but not limited to employee acceptance and adherence. Change of any sort needs to be fully explained and justified in order to get buy-in.

For most change to be successful, creating a sense of ownership is necessary. The simple fact is that conventional organizational change, which typically involves training and development (and 'motivation') frequently fails. It fails because employees look at things differently than owners and managers. Some bosses actually believe that people who are paid to do a job should do what they are told to do. Imposing change on people doesn't work because:

it assumes that the employee's personal aims and wishes are aligned with those of the organization or that there is no need for such alignment.

it assumes that the employee wants the type of change that the firm deems appropriate for them.