Placeholder Image

Contact Us

Form submitted successfully!
Home » Blog » Resistance to Change- Why Is It So Common?

To be clear at the beginning, change is widespread and affects every arena in life. Therefore, there are various challenges in every arena. This blog will specifically decode the most potent resistors to change at the workplace.

Resistance to change is the reluctance of people to adapt to change. Employees can be overt or covert about their unwillingness to adapt to organizational changes. This opposition can range from expressing their resistance publicly to unknowingly resisting change through micro-resistance, language, or general actions. It’s easy to get excited about making changes in your organization when you’re the force behind the change, but not everyone may share your enthusiasm. Imagine tabling a plan that you think will work wonders, and now you’re ready to get started – but you’re receiving resistance to this change from all sides, opposition that is impacting your change management plan. People continue to use old models and outdated systems while progress remains stagnant at their fingertips.  Maybe some people are digging in their heels and refusing to adopt the new system. Others may be frustrated and confused by the software but are afraid to speak up. Meanwhile, morale is low, and tensions are high. Mishandling could lead to the total failure of your plan. To surmount resistance, you must understand where it stems from. Resistance is a simple follower of the cause-and-effect principle.

Individual vs Organisational Resistance

Individual resistance occurs when employees resist change based on their unique perceptions, personalities, and needs. Things like job security, habit, and economic factors have a massive influence on individual resistance.

Organizational resistance is an organization’s tendency to resist change and want to maintain the status quo. Companies that suffer from organizational resistance become inflexible and cannot adapt to environmental or internal demands for change. Some signs of organizational resistance include internal power struggles, poor decision-making processes, unconfident leadership, and bureaucratic organisational structures.

Detailed below are the 7 challenges that organisational change faces-

  1. Mistrust- When employees don’t trust or feel confident in the person making the change, their resistance to it can be a huge barrier. The 3 levels can be titled as- I don’t get it, I don’t like it, and I don’t like you. That’s right — people may not resist the change itself, but rather the person making it. Of course, “you” does not always refer to the change-maker specifically. It could also be someone the change-maker represents, such as corporate headquarters or a faceless CEO.
  2. Emotional Overload- Changing the status quo is complex and people tend to react emotionally to disruptions to their routine. This is a natural and inevitable response as the acceptance of change proceeds according to the Kubler-Ross curve (shown at the end). Brushing it off will only lead to stronger resistance. As such, change-makers must be prepared to manage these emotions and move people towards acceptance of the change. Empathy is a key tool in such situations. People want to feel heard. Make it clear that their opinions are valuable to the change process.
  3. Limited Input- Not the informational type, but more along the lines of resources or training. However, the results expected are always top-notch. Seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it? Employees often feel unprepared to adapt and adopt new processes due to a lack of onboarding, upskill training, and end-user support resources to guide them through the initial learning curve and friction points in a new process, team structure, or software implementation. Such a situation demands the proper onboarding and re/upskilling of employees. They should also get adequate self-help material and a proper budget should be allocated to the change management plan.
  4. The Fear of Failure- People won’t support a change if they’re not confident in their abilities to adapt to it. When people feel threatened by their shortcomings (real or imagined), they protect themselves from failure by resisting the change. Knowledge is all about effective training. The goal is to give people the tools they need to facilitate the change, including those needed to handle transitions. Ability is more about self-confidence. After training, people need to feel comfortable applying the knowledge they have acquired. Give employees enough hands-on experience to develop and test their new skills before fully launching the change.
  5. Improper Communication- This is a classic. When you talk at people as opposed to with people, you’re bound to get pushback and resistance to change. Before you initiate change, you should have several communication actions planned, such as the announcement of the change, small group discussions, one-on-one meetings, and methods for gathering feedback. When you address individual employee concerns, you increase their engagement. People want to know how the change will impact them specifically and what they will need to do to implement and solidify the change.
  6. Unrealistic Timelines- This one really goes under the radar. Find a balance between creating a sense of urgency and allowing time to transition. Don’t force change too quickly – when you push too hard for a change to happen, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and neglect important elements of your change plan. If your team needs more time to understand the change or would benefit from additional change management training, make it happen. It is better to take a decision that is slow and correct than to take one where haste leads to waste.
  7. Organisational Inertia- Resistance to change often occurs when existing company culture and norms are deeply rooted in an organization, which hinders the acceptance of new ways of doing things, such as new processes, leadership, team structure, or technology. Demonstrate change at the leadership level by modelling your desired behaviour change from the top down. When leaders actively participate in and support a change, it sets a positive example for others to follow and creates a sense that “we’re in this together”.

Change cannot be avoided, but can be worked through. Anticipating and planning for resistance is an essential aspect of implementing positive organizational change. When you dig into the reasons behind the resistance to change, you’re better prepared to address it and move past it, regardless of which type of organizational change you undergo within your company.

Blog you later!