Why People Resist Change at Work

Posted by

One of the biggest challenges to sales management and sales teams is the resistance to change. When new policies or procedures are introduced, if the employees don't embrace them, it can cause a rash of negativity and adversely effect office and team morale. While some people handle change better than others, I can't think of anyone who really looks forward to changing the way they do things.


It's easy to see why. Change is scary. It shakes things up and forces employees to create new routines and new ways of getting things done. Especially in situations where the need for the change isn't readily apparent or where workers may not see the benefit of the change, introducing new ideas can be viewed as a threat to the status quo and are met with a great deal of resistance.


When employees and co-workers resist change, it affects everyone from the CEO on down. This is why it's crucial to plan ahead in order to get everyone on board. It's especially important that team leaders and managers have some time to get used to the the change and that they support it. Without their cooperation, management can block new procedures and be unwilling to model the new process and give employees the needed support to cope with the change.


So, what can be done to help overcome this resistance?


First, it's important to understand that some degree of resistance to change is completely normal. In general, people prefer stability in their lives and anything new is a possible threat to the predictability that they count on. Also, change involves risk, which is scary. By understanding why the resistance occurs, you can create a plan that can make the experience as painless as possible.


Why do people resist change? I've put together a list of reasons with help from Change-Management-Coach.com and Catherine's Career Corner:


Fear of Losing Their Job - When a company begins making changes to improve efficiency, many employees - even managers - can feel threatened. They worry that they might be working themselves right out of a job. Especially when they are already nervous about their job security, these workers will be hesitant to embrace the change.


Loss of Control - Human beings are creatures of habit and changing a routine can make us feel powerless and confused. People need to feel that they have some control over the changes in their lives. When implementing change, it's easier if employees are allowed some input and they are given support and help to get through it.


Lack of Competence - No one likes to feel that they aren't good at what they do. For employees who are used to being able to do what they do with high degree of competency, changing things around can make them feel stupid. Some people don't want to learn new things and being forced to makes them feel singled out, picked on or persecuted.


No Reward - If there isn't anything in it for the employee, it is less likely that they will embrace the change. Without any sort of reward, they won't be supportive of it over the long term. The reward doesn't have to be major, but employees need to be able to see the benefits of the new policy.


Peer Pressure and/or Office Politics - If the benefits of the change aren't made clear, management and team leaders could sabotage the success of the change in order to protect their employees and co-workers.


As you can see, most of the resistance can be countered by listening and planning ahead. Employers and managers need to communicate in an honest and straightforward manner. Employees need to given information about the change, the reason for it and what should be achieved as a result of it. In addition, they need to feel that they have a say in the change and that they are an important part of the process.


When resistance occurs, it's important for management to listen to the concerns of employees and focus on finding solutions to help make the change a long term success.


Image Source: MorgueFile


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    @kathy, you're right, one of the best ways to make changes in the workplace is by getting employees in on the change early in the process. Once the people on the ground have "bought in" to the change, they will be more supportive of it. But, you see this resistance all the time. If you've ever seen one of those reality shows like "Kitchen Nightmares" you've probably seen the resistance in action. Chef Ramsey tells them what they need to do to turn things around but the owners fight him every step of the way. It's not until they embrace the change that things improve.
  • kathy
     I believe that the real problem with introducing change in the work place is the way we go about it in the first place. Are you changing anything in the work place because your former ways are not giving you the results you had hoped? Are you changing a policy because your former policy is out of date or does not go with the new software? or perhaps maybe. It never really was viable to do it the old way anyway. Whatever your answer is to any of these questions the same rules apply to all… you are changing something that as employee they do regularly, let me ask you something if you were the best goal keeper in your league and the treasurer of your team came in and told you. You have to change the way you skated how much buy in would you get from the goal keeper even if it was the best thing for him. He would resist your suggestions and fight it all the way. My option is that if you need to make any changes in the work place.  The people that are most affected by said change should be involved from the beginning make them take ownership for the changes. Make them feel like they are a part of it the reason for coming up with this big time saver or whatever the case may be. We need to start treating our employee like they matter, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if you are in high school public school the work place or a fancy dinner party you get the right people to buy in to the change the rest will follow, make your employee a part of things and the benefits to you will far exceed the time it took you to do it.

Jobs to Watch