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Three factors causing resistance to change

You have committed endless time and energy to your change management efforts only for them to be met with resistance. Sound familiar? That’s because onboarding all parties is tough, pleasing everyone is near impossible, and different groups will inevitably have different, often conflicting, interests.

But all is not lost. By preempting potential issues, you can be prepared for any friction, put plans in place to overcome the hurdles and even work to avoid them. Here are three factors causing resistance to change:

Feeling in the dark

Whether its employees, clients, or stakeholders, no one likes to feel as though they have been kept in the dark over impending change. The worst thing you can do is make and implement changes and assume teams are just going to roll with it. Whilst that may work with minor adjustments, it rarely succeeds within innovation and change management efforts. Not telling parties about an upcoming change in advance increases the risk of negativity and resistance. It can also impact poorly on how the person feels about your leadership or company.

The solution here is to plan how and when you are going to let people know about the change. Preferably as soon as possible before they hear it through whisper and rumour, but not so early that you tell them before exact plans are formed – unless of course you want them to be part of the solution. (Read more on the collaborative leadership approach here.) Building onboarding into your change management efforts can go a long way to preventing anyone from feeling in the dark.

Lack of understanding

So you’ve let your teams know that change is imminent, but you are still being met with resistance. You know this is a good opportunity, so what is the problem? The issue is that they might not know that. Part and parcel of onboarding parties in your transformation efforts is gaining their support through understanding.

Companies are shifting to become more open in their practices. At ILX, we have spoken before about the benefits of building an open workplace culture, and how transparency can form trusting relationships with leaders. Essentially, employees need to understand the reasoning and rationale behind changes in order to fully get onboard. Leaders can overcome opposition to change by sharing the challenges facing the organisation that have precipitated the innovations.

Think of your onboarding as a marketing pitch. Show parties the wider context of your transformation efforts and brand your changes in a way which resonates with the party you are pitching to. Not only will you experience less resistance, you’ll also benefit from their support. When they believe that the company needs to change, they will want to be a part of making it happen.

Fear of the unknown

The final obstacle you will have to factor in is the fear of the unknown. There are going to be parties with reservations and concerns, and often this will be your employees. Even once employees understand the ‘whys’ behind upcoming changes, all change comes with risk, and this can be the root of worry.

If a change initiative feels risky to individuals, then you are likely to incur resistance. Studies have found that frontline employees are far less likely to take risks and leave their comfort zones compared to managers. This lack of confidence can stem from fear of the consequences if things go wrong, but also as a result of insufficient support and growth opportunities.

To overcome this and build your team’s confidence, consider offering your employees a professional development course such as agile training. Within agile practices, change is commonplace. Change management efforts offer an opportunity to reshape things, but with that comes new language and terminologies, new processes, and new ways of doing things. Agile training means employees become au fait with development methodologies. Change and progression become more familiar and feel less alien to employees.

By preempting the hurdles causing resistance to change you can set yourself up for success!

Learn more about implementing and handling change effectively with our APMG International Change Management courses.