Why People Resist Change

People love change as much as they are afraid of it. Business progress can be a battle, as progress requires change and people often resist change. For most, comfort is key, and readjusting is not always easy. So why do people resist change?

Executive and blogger Torben Rick shares 12 typical reasons for resistance to change:

  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Low trust — When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change, there is likely to be resistance.
  1. Temporary fad — When people belief that the change initiative is a temporary fad.
  1. 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.
  1. Poor communication — It’s self-evident, isn’t it? When it comes to change management, there’s no such thing as too much communication.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 favors another group/department/person, there may be (unspoken) anger and resentment.
  1. Benefits and rewards — When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved.

As you see, people resist change for many reasons––it’s human nature. The resistance is usually emotional at first, then logical. In order to make a new idea happen, people should let go of the fear and let the new idea roll from pure imagination all the way to implementation.

What are your thoughts on resistance to change?

Author: Marina Kaljaj

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