WHY PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE
By Ruth Tearle
People who resist change, are not ‘difficult people’. Rather they are usually highly intelligent people who have thought about the change, and have good reasons for resisting it. Here are 10 reasons why people resist change in organizations:
1. They don’t see the benefits.
People who resist change can't see any benefit to themselves for the effort that will be required of them by the change. All they can see is extra work. Extra stress. Cutting costs, or restructuring simply means “We have to work harder to make the shareholders richer.’” And that is often true.
2. The benefits are not worth it.
People who resist change believe that the benefits you are offering are not worth the extra work and stress they will experience.
3. The change will hurt them.
People often resist change because they will be worse off as a result of the change. Their past experience will no longer be seen as valuable in the new environment. Their status may diminish. They will feel less important and may even feel discarded or redundant.
4. They don’t believe the benefits will be achieved.
People who resist change often see a number of barriers to the change, that are being ignored by the leaders. These barriers will, in their minds, prevent the change from working. Many of them, have been through many change processes before that have not been implemented well. They have seen so many projects starting with a great fanfare, and never completed. “Why should this one be different?” They ask.
5. They don’t see how this change is going to work.
When people attend a launch of a new project or change, they want answers to the following questions, before they are prepared to trust that the change will work.
- Where is the implementation plan?
- Is the change actively supported by people in power?
- Who is responsible for what? Are there clear roles?
- Does everyone have the support they will need?
6. They feel afraid.
Will they be able to master the change? Will they be made to feel incompetent?
7. They don’t know what is expected of them.
Some people tell them this change is worthwhile. Others are saying it is a waste of time. They don’t know who to believe.
8. They don’t trust you.
People won't support people they don't trust. Perhaps in the past, you failed to listen or care for them. They don’t see why they should go out of their way to help you now. They don’t trust your intentions. You say the change will benefit them, but can they really believe it? Are you not just trying to manipulate or bully them?
9. They don’t feel valued.
If people don't feel valued, then they won't be motivated to work harder to make your change work. Many will ask, 'does it really matter if we contribute or not?'
10. They don't see it as a priority.
People who resist change, are not difficult people. They are usually highly intelligent people who are asking you to do your job as a leader.
They are already overloaded with work. They don't have the time for your change. They are being measured and rewarded for other work. Time spent on your change, will mean they will have less time to spend on work that they are being measured on. So it is not in their best interests to support your change.
People who resist change, want to ensure that you as a leader have done your preparation, before you ask them to support you. When people who resist change see a comprehensive change management strategy that proves to them that your change will actually work before they commit their precious time and energy to your change.
You may also like:
- Do you need to sell the concept of change management in your organization? We have developed a set of slides that you can use in a presentation to your executive team or project team.
- Do you need to develop an integrated change management approach or a change management infrastructure? Are you considering setting up a change agent network in your organization. We have developed a set of slides you can use in a presentation to your executive team.
- Change management dashboard for projectsA visual dashboard of the current state of change management on your project plus advice on what you still need to do to ensure success.
- Change management research - resistance to change. Research done in 2011 on why employees resist chnage.
- The role of a change manager - from change agent to change master.
- Why change fails. 10 reasons why change fails and why strategies don't get implemented. 10 steps to manage change effectively in an organization.
- How to develop a change management strategy to overcome resistance to change.
- The role of a change agent during an organizational restructuring.
Tools to use in managing change.
- The change puzzle kit A systems thinking and organizational development diagnostics tool. Diagnose an organization. Understand culture. Identify core changes.
- Winning the game of change Develop a change management or organizational development strategy for your organization or project.
- Magic change toolkit An exciting change management toolkit for change agents. Filled with recipe cards or activities to manage any change, reduce resistance and build excitement.
We would like to hear about your experiences and viewpoints. By sharing your own experience, you can help make this topic richer, more practical and more relevant to different situations and cultures. This helps us all to learn.