Organizational change – Reasons why people resist change
Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start of your change management progamme will allow you to effectively manage objections.
Understanding the most common reasons people object to change gives you the opportunity to plan your change strategy to address these factors.
It’s not possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change. Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a proactive step. Recognizing behaviors that indicate possible resistance will raise awareness of the need to address the concerns.
Classic psychological reactions to change
At the end of the day all sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged and people’s emotions validated.
It’s far better to anticipate objections than to spend your time putting out fires, and knowing how to overcome resistance to change is a vital part of any change management plan.
Top 12 typical reasons for resistance to change
Misunderstanding about the need for change/when the reason for the change is unclear — If staff do not understand the need for change you can expect resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works well…and has done for twenty years!
Fear of the unknown— One of the most common reasons for resistance is fear of the unknown. People will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel – that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction
Lack of competence — This is a fear people will seldom admit. But sometimes, change in organizations necessitates changes in skills, and some people will feel that they won’t be able to make the transition very well
Connected to the old way — If you ask people in an organization to do things in a new way, as rational as that new way may seem to you, you will be setting yourself up against all that hard wiring, all those emotional connections to those who taught your audience the old way – and that’s not trivial
Low trust— When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance
Temporary fad — When people belief that the change initiative is a temporary fad
Not being consulted — If people are allowed to be part of the change there is less resistance. People like to know what’s going on, especially if their jobs may be affected. Informed employees tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction than uninformed employees
Poor communication — It’s self evident isn’t it? When it comes to change management there’s no such thing as too much communication
Changes to routines — When we talk about comfort zones we’re really referring to routines. We love them. They make us secure. So there’s bound to be resistance whenever change requires us to do things differently
Exhaustion/Saturation — Don’t mistake compliance for acceptance. People who are overwhelmed by continuous change resign themselves to it and go along with the flow. You have them in body, but you do not have their hearts. Motivation is low
Change in the status quo — Resistance can also stem from perceptions of the change that people hold. For example, people who feel they’ll be worse off at the end of the change are unlikely to give it their full support. Similarly, if people believe the change favours another group/department/person there may be (unspoken) anger and resentment
Benefits and rewards — When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved
Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start of your change management progamme will allow you to effectively manage objections. Not dealing proactively is one pitfall – but there are many other common mistakes.
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