12/02/2015

By Leona Barr Jones, Managing Director, Barr Jones Associates


We all hate change but, as an employer, if you expect resistance to change and then plan for it from the start, it will help to allow you to effectively manage objections, sometimes even before they are raised. I spent many years managing change programmes for The Army and The Ministry of Defence, and here I provide some guidance on factors to consider when planning a major change management programme within your organisation.

When you start planning for change, you need to start by thinking about why people resist change. Below are the top ten reasons people quote when asked why they object to change. If you understand these and plan for them, it will help to give you the opportunity to plan your change strategy to address these factors upfront.

At the end of the day all sources of resistance to change need to be acknowledged and people’s emotions validated if your change programme is to be a success.

1. What’s the point in changing?
If your staff do not understand the drivers for change then you can expect resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works well and think “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!”

2. Feel the 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 feel that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward

3. What’s in it for me?
When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved

4. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks!
This is a fear people will seldom admit, but sometimes, change in an organisation can mean changes in skills, and some people will feel that they won’t be able to make the transition

5. But we love 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 so don’t underestimate that

6. We’ll never make that work!
When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance

7. Ignore it, it’s just a fad
When people believe that the change initiative is a temporary fad they won’t engage

8. No one asked me!
If people feel that they are 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 and when it comes to change management there’s no such thing as too much communication.

9. Don’t change my routine!
When we talk about comfort zones we’re really referring to routines. Us humans love routine. They make us feel secure. So there’s bound to be resistance whenever we are asked to do things differently.

10. It’s all so exhausting!
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 will be low, so make a plan to win the hearts and minds.

Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start of your change management programme will allow you to effectively manage objections and to be proactive not reactive. This will help to ensure that change is a smooth process not a difficult one.