Recognize these 10 Causes of Resistance to Change?

And are you happy with where you are heading? How about dealing with resistance to change?


If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Lao Tzu


With the rate of technological growth and changes introduced by the information age, change is now the normal state of business isn’t it? Change does not come easy, however.


Related: An Actionable Approach to Target Market Segmentation


Much resistance to change is often blamed on individual traits. Many times, this is true. More often, however, we over-estimate how much change we as individuals can accept. We also often do not appreciate how difficult it is to lead and implement change effectively.


People, just like everything else, are constantly subject to change. When we stop changing, our growing and learning comes to a grinding halt. Therefore we need to maintain a clear vision of change options available to us, and understand which ones offer the best growth opportunities. And then go with them.


Whenever you consider resistance to change options, try to understand the motivators of the resistance. Use what you learn to guide your choices in how to respond to the resistance you face. Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it, is a proactive step you’ll definitely want to undertake.


At the end of the day all sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged and your emotions validated.


It’s far better to anticipate objections than to spend your time putting out fires. It is important in knowing how to overcome resistance to change is a vital part of any development and growth.


It helps to keep in mind these typical reasons for resistance to change:


Resistance to change examples … lack of abilities

This is a fear few of us will readily admit. But sometimes, changes going on around us necessitate changes in skills, and some of us will feel that they won’t be able to make the transition very well. Recognizing this fear is critical to solving it.


Types of resistance to change
Types of resistance to change.

Don’t appreciate need for change

If you or your staff does 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 so for a long time.



Reasons for resistance to change … uncertainty and fear

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


The less you know about the change and its impact, the more fearful it can become. Leading change also requires not springing surprises on the organization. The organization needs to be prepared for the change. In the absence of continuing two-way communication with leadership, grapevine rumors fill the void and sabotage the change effort.


 Holding onto past

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. Up against all that hard wiring, all those emotional connections to those who taught you and the audience the old way.


poor listening
Poor listening habits?

Poor listening and communication 

Changes within an organization start with key decision makers. It is up to them to pass along the details to team members and ensure all questions and complaints are handled before changes go into effect. Unfortunately, as news of a change spreads through the hierarchy, details are sometimes skewed and members end up receiving inaccurate, second-hand information. Poor communication can therefore cause resistance to change.


It’s self-evident isn’t it? When it comes to change management there’s no such thing as too much communication


Resistance to change … minimal trust

When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance. Meaningful change does not occur in a climate of mistrust. Trust, involves faith in the intentions and behavior of others. Mutual mistrust will doom an otherwise well-conceived change initiative to failure.


 No understanding

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


Impacts of change

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.


Moving out of comfort zone

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.


Too much change

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 in such situations. So pay attention to the amount and timing of the changes that are introduced.



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Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+FacebookTwitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.



Recognize these 10 Causes of Resistance to Change?