There are two factors that influence the level a workforce will be engaged in a change initiative.
Factor 1: Current employee mindsets about the change and direction.
At the beginning of any change initiative there will be a mix of opinions and emotions about what is being proposed. There will be early adopters, cautious skeptics, vocal critics, silent observers, and so on. While there are countless ways that people react to change, I believe that you can usually characterize a person as either aligned or not aligned with the new direction. This is really all that matters.The outward displays of opinions and emotions are how people will attempt to communicate their feelings about change, but alignment is the key issue. You don't need to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who is aligned and who isn't. You'll know. What's much more important is learning how to align employee's thinking with something you want to achieve.
Factor 2: How managers approach aligning thinking
There are three approaches that managers use to influence people in a change initiative.
Avoid and Neglect: Unfortunately, this is the most common approach managers use when it comes to change. In fact, I believe that 80-90% of managers have perfected this skill and use it exclusively. It's easy to tell when a manager or supervisor is using this approach, there will be little sustainment, unhappy people (especially high performers), and the manager will be busy firefighting. Avoiding the conflict is deadly. Not only does it lead to zero change in thinking, behavior, or results; it will create harsh skeptics from those precious few that were initially aligned but now believe this is another waste of time drummed up by an inept management team.
Manage Behavior: This is typically the follow-up to avoid and neglect. On one hand, managers may feel good that they are doing something about sustaining change, but this approach avoids the real issue and consumes a mountain of resources. The real issue that needs to be addressed is the thinking of each employee. Managing behavior goes right around the thinking (more avoid and neglect) and attempts to deal with a symptom of the thinking. The most typical form managing behavior takes is an audit. You probably know that I am not a fan of audits, not because they don't have a purpose but because they are misused. The bottom line is this, behavior is the result of thinking and if you are going to try to manage behavior you are signing up for a career of "Whack-a-Mole Management" because the symptoms of misaligned thinking will appear, without notice, in forms and frequencies that will keep you busy trying to control behavior for as long as you can stand it.
Change Thinking: This is the only way to achieve true buy-in from employees. Changing thinking will change behavior whether it is audited or not. This is extremely powerful because the stance people take will influence thousands of decisions that are made in an organization every day without a word being spoken. Managers who can change employee's thinking will sustain improvements, create change agents, be the manager of choice, and achieve unparalleled levels of performance. Their influence will be so powerful that they will create followers who will watch them and learn how to influence thinking themselves. This is the heart of cultural change, being able to influence the thinking of one person after another, aligning them with a new direction. After the thinking changes, everything else is simple problem solving
(the above was provided by Steve Lage of PDG Consultants)