If you do not change your direction, you may end up where you are going. – Lao Tzu
Many business leaders reject change and often embrace the familiar, even as they profess commitment to innovation and reinvention. If change has always been an integral part of life, why do we resist it so? What goes through a person’s mind when they are informed of or predict change?
Here are the Top 12 reasons people resist 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 organisations 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 organisation 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 programme will allow you to effectively manage objections.