Why Are People So Resistant to Organizational Change?

Why Are People So Resistant to Organizational Change?
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In today’s cutthroat, ever-evolving digital world, you must evolve or risk becoming extinct. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, forcing organizations to regularly assess their change management strategy.

Businesses are in a constant state of change, so staff must be flexible, and continually ready to adapt to new circumstances.

As humans, we settle into a state of security where the norm is safe. This can prevent us reaching our full potential, in contrast to an openness to change which can further progression.

Organizational change isn’t easy, but change management is a growing phenomenon that helps us effectively identify how to best implement change. Half the battle is converting reluctant employees, whose mentalities need adjusting on a psychological/behavioral level.

You can implement the best change management strategy in the world, but it’s the people that ultimately determine its success.

Often organizations fail to reach their change objectives, and the most common cause is a resistance to change. Management and executives can be too ambitious with their aspirations, believing they can influence people against their will.

This is a fundamentally flawed approach, from change managers who don’t understand how to implement change effectively.

It should start with a grassroots foundation, where a major component of change management strategy is configuring how you can encourage staff to embrace change.

If they’re fully on board, adopting a positive view with longevity in mind, you’re much more likely to achieve a positive outcome.

But why are people so resistant to change? By addressing this question, you can understand the motivations of workers who are instrumental to change.

By getting reluctant individuals on board, your change management strategy can achieve its intended outcomes.

Here are some of the top reasons why people resist change on an organizational level:

Job Security / Loss of Status

It’s difficult to embrace change that threatens the status quo, especially when you’re happy where you are. Any change perceived as harmful to current situations is likely to be resisted by invested parties.

This is especially relevant with technological and administrative changes that threaten to reduce or eliminate job duties.

To avoid complications, you should reassure staff that technology will be introduced to assist, not replace them.

Forcing change without proper dialogue can have undesired consequences, causing your results to suffer. This can damage long-term goals and create organizational tension.

Fear of the Unknown

Without a change management strategy that prioritizes an effective dialogue between staff, they’ll be totally clueless about the implications of change. It’s natural to fear the unknown, so you’d be wise to avoid springing surprises on people.

When your organization is prepared for the future, their objectives will align with company goals.

Without proper communication, rumors will sweep the organization, disrupting the workforce dramatically. Communication works two-ways, because staff will be more susceptible to change if they feel people are listening to their opinions.

Peer Pressure

Regardless of your personality, we are all social creatures who instinctively protect those close to us. If you’re responsible for a team whose members resist change, you too could feel compelled to match their outlook.

After all, as the leader you’re urged to lead by example. In this context, change can be resisted to protect the interests of a group. The need to belong to a group is profound, so if change threatens your social work bonds, critical organizational stakeholders might resist change.

Climate of Mistrust

At work, trust is everything. When coworkers trust each other, the integrity of your organization naturally lifts. If you don’t trust someone to make a decision, or have a perceived misfaith in their intentions, it’s impossible to cultivate change.

When you create an organizational culture where staff have faith in each other, change initiatives are more likely to gain traction.

Implementing change in an environment where people mistrust you is a complete nightmare.

People will constantly question your motives, and ultimately fail to support your motives. This can grind progress to a halt, and is encouragement to rebuild trust as a fragile asset that can be easily harmed.

Fear of Failure

When change is drastically announced, staff can naturally assume they’re incapable of fulfilling their duties. Consequently, they might end up viewing change implementation as a way to combat their incompetence.

The fear of failure is a powerful emotional response, and if staff are worried they can’t keep up with change, they’ll be quick to resist it.

The fear of adapting to new work environments can be alleviated with a well-thought out change management strategy. The emotional response of employees is crucial for success, especially because fear is a powerful motivator.

Help your team quickly move beyond their fears and you’ll overcome the negative connotations it brings.

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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