Human beings are creatures of instinct, and our natural urge is to resist things we’re uncertain about. In an ideal world, change leaders would direct a workforce that jumps for joy at the prospect of change, but unfortunately this is far from reality.
Imagine how easy it would be if staff relished the opportunity for change? This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, but it’s important to know why workers are so resistant to change in the first place.
Why Do Employees Resist Change: The Heart of the Issue
So, why do employees resist change? Well, bad change management is a common culprit. Shifting technological landscapes have transformed the way people do business, increasing the necessity and regularity of change initiatives.
These need to be managed properly, otherwise it’s difficult for changes to stick.
Change management is needed more than ever before, but regardless of how well a change process is managed, there is still a level of distrust which needs to be factored into the organizational approach to change.
Senior staff often blame failure on employees and middle managers, failing to acknowledge the importance of leading their staff into new horizons.
Resistance should be expected, and if you anticipate it from the beginning you can effectively manage objections. Lead by example, and manage resistance in the same way you do change.
Most people prefer stability, so repel anything that threatens their status quo. Change leaders should promote the benefits of change, utilizing two-way communication to best effect.
All sources of resistance to change should be acknowledged, where anticipating objections is far better than trying to put out fires. Always understand that staff reject change for rational reasons. With this being said, we still haven’t addressed the question ‘why do employees resist change?’.
We’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of why do employees resist change. Here are some more specific reasons to sink your teeth into, which when understood can be leveraged to increase the potency of your change management strategy.
The Most Common Reasons Why People Resist ChangeBad Communication
Communication drives results. All elements of change need to be effectively communicated, otherwise you can expect resistance. You should create a continual dialogue, explaining each step of the way in clear detail.
Indicate how change will be measured, and ensure staff understand how the change will benefit them in the long run. Staff will naturally believe in the current way of doing things, so it’s the job of change leaders to tell them otherwise.
Too often change leaders fail to reason with employees, leaving staff demotivated to progress with the times. Remember, there is no such thing as too much information.
Threat of Losing Job
Change is often associated with job loss, so people perceive it as a threat to their job security. In today’s digital age, change comes with cost reduction, streamlining, cost reduction, and working smarter.
This usually results in roles being eliminated or reduced. Can you see why staff might view change as harmful to their position?
Positive reassurance is necessary to sway staff perception, where high job satisfaction can help your team weather change. Organizations who fail to embed the change philosophy at the root of company culture can face undesired consequences.
Loss of Control
When employees feel as if they’re not in control of their own destiny, they’re left feeling powerless and confused. Familiarity offers staff a sense of control over their work environment, meaning they’re more likely to be receptive to changes.
A great way to help staff feel more control is to solicit input, support, and valuable information from everyone involved.
Active participation proves you care about staff contributions, and will give them a chance to shape the direction of change. If you don’t take advantage of staff as a vast source of knowledge, their perceived lack of control will drive resistance.
Lack of Competence
Though it can be difficult to admit, staff are often too incompetent to keep up-to-speed with new changes.
Change introduces new skills, and some won’t have the requisite skillset to match what’s expected from them.
Their survival instincts kick in, and they’ll rebel change instead. Sometimes though, it’s less about the knowledge gap and more a hesitation to try new things.
Employee’s lack confidence in their ability to take on new challenges, believing their current competence is enough to risk rocking the boat. Changing the mentality of staff is critical, because a reluctance to accept change can hinder organizational growth.
When change isn’t introduced at the right time, it can be viewed as insensitive and unproductive. For change to be effective, it must be rolled out methodically. A comprehensive change strategy will consider the timing of change, which be when it’s convenient for staff.
Hopefully we’ve addressed the question ‘why do employees resist change?’, and you can use these solutions when devising an effective strategy.
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.