Addressing the Fundamental Resistance of Management Changes: Why Are Staff So Stubborn?

Addressing the Fundamental Resistance of Management Changes: Why Are Staff So Stubborn?
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Innovation is everything in today’s rapidly enhancing digital environment, where organizations need to create, recreate, and move ahead.

Transition is everything, but stumbling blocks are everywhere. Though you might be willing to embrace change, not everyone will be as willing to rebuild as you are.

You can charge full steam ahead with the intention of transcending company operations, but what good is this if your staff don’t support you?

The change you’re trying to implement may instill fear in others, who will naturally resist what they don’t understand. Uncertainty will slow the change process considerably, so it’s important to tackle the root cause of why people resist change.

A successful leader will assess behavioral aspects, and implement measures to influence the attitudes of their team. Before we look at some common mistakes to avoid, let’s first address some top tips for leading change:

Sustain Competency

Employees who hone their skills feel competent, which creates a level of comfort in their day-to-day duties. When change is introduced, it can threaten safety, especially when introduced as a disruptive force.

It is your job as team leader to ensure staff feel valued for the knowledge they possess, even when new initiatives reduce their role.

Though some thrive on new challenges, others will feel vulnerable to change. It can challenge their competency, creating concern that leads to resistance. With an open dialogue that addresses staff apprehension directly, you’ll offer strategies which offer new expectations.

Staff will be less reluctant to change if you manage to sustain their sense of competency, giving them a generous adjustment period and allowing them time to relax and accept change at their own pace.

Management Changes: Failure, What Failure?

A fear of failure can prevent staff from reaching their true potential, slowing down the timeline for change.

If people take on new responsibilities which are over their head, they’ll be worried about looking stupid. People fear what comes with failure, so as leader you should be sympathetic to their needs.

Acknowledge there’s bound to be confusion, and that you’re willing to accept the occasional blunder. Create a safe learning environment, establishing a culture where mastery is the result of learning from mistakes.

Make the Unfamiliar Familiar

They say old habits die hard, and people like what’s familiar. When you introduce something new, you can cultivate anxiety and resistance.

This stresses the importance of introducing change gradually, with a slow agenda that appreciates an ‘everyone is different’ philosophy. It’s not unreasonable to ask your staff to be patient, and to introduce regular reviews to keep everyone on track.

Receive input from staff about what they don’t like, and do your best to accommodate their wishes. This will help the unfamiliar become familiar.

Now, let’s take a look at some alternative reasons why change is resisted on an organizational level:

Office Politics

In-house politics can wreak havoc within organizations. Some people love being proved right, and others love proving people wrong.

Staff who are incensed to prove a change decision wrong will be driven by self-interest, with objectives that aren’t aligned with the best interests of the company.

These resisters must be converted, because they’ll be committed to causing change efforts to fail.

Lack of Reward

When staff feel their efforts are undervalued, they’ll be less likely to jump on board. To get the attention of your team, and encourage them to embrace change with welcome arms, you should incentivize them with rewards.

When staff perceive there’s nothing in it for them, they’ll resist change. Provide motivational support for change if you want your change processes to stick.

Organizational rewards should be flexible, to support the ever-evolving demands change brings.

Loss of Support System

Employees work within their own comfort zones, and are compatible with the management they get along best with. During challenging times, if staff lose their support system they’ll feel powerless to their external circumstances.

When change is implemented on an organizational level, it can threaten an individual’s support system. This is especially true when management changes are introduced, where unfamiliarity breeds failure.

Management changes are a common reason for resistance, because staff heavily rely on their support systems.

Peer Pressure

We are social creatures at heart, and with time employees commonly establish an affinity with their team. They’ll do everything to protect their inner circle, and reject anything that comes between.

Staff will sympathize with their coworkers when change reduces their roles, especially when it interferes with everything they’ve worked to achieve. When change is thrusted on employees with reckless abandon, invested parties will totally oppose differences.

This commonly occurs with proposed management changes, where staff will behave in ways that sabotage the potential for successful change. Understand staff’s tendency to protect their co-workers to mitigate the scope of resistance.

Change is resisted for many reasons, but if you’re equipped with the tools necessary to reduce its negative impact, you’ll remain one step ahead.

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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