Top Six Reasons People Resist Change

The rate of change in the world today is going up. It's getting faster and faster. And it's affecting organizations in a big way. Every leader will address it at some time in their career.


Change is inevitable. It can also creates fear, doubt and uncertainty.


And it always creates resistance.


When you have to create change, recognize these six patterns to help people make successful personal transitions.





1. Loss of Control

Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they’ve lost control over their territory.


Smart leaders leave room for those affected by change to make choices. They invite others into the planning, giving them ownership.


2. Too much Uncertainty

If change feels like walking off a cliff blindfolded, then people will reject it. People will often prefer to remain mired in misery than to head toward an unknown. As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”


Leaders should create certainty of process, with clear, simple steps and timetables.


3. Losing Face

Face is social currency. By definition, change is a departure from the past. Those people associated with the last version — the one that didn’t work — are likely to be defensive about it. They fear the perception that they must have been wrong


Leaders can help people save face and maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honoring. Then making it clear that the world has changed.


4. Feeling Stupid

Change is resisted when it makes people feel stupid. Can I do it?


They might express skepticism about whether the new software version will work or whether digital journalism is really an improvement, but down deep they are worried that their skills will be obsolete.


Leaders should provide extra structural reassurance. Providing abundant information, education, training, mentors, and support systems.


A period of overlap, running two systems simultaneously, helps ease transitions.



5. More Work

Here is a universal challenge. Change is indeed more work. Those closest to the change in terms of designing and testing it are often overloaded. Partly because of the inevitable unanticipated glitches in the middle of change.


There is an expression that “everything can look like a failure in the middle.”


Leaders should acknowledge the hard work of change by allowing some people to focus exclusively on it, or adding extra benefits. They should reward and recognize participants — and their families, too, who often make unseen sacrifices.


6. Old Resentments

The ghosts of the past are always lying in wait to haunt us. As long as everything is steady state, they remain out of sight. But the minute you need cooperation for something new or different, the ghosts spring into action. Old wounds reopen, historic resentments are remembered — sometimes going back many generations.


Leaders should consider gestures to heal the past before sailing into the future.


Other Common Symptoms:

• Denial

• Drama

• Gossip

• Vindictiveness

• Disconnection

• Outright sabotage

For more information please connect me. Thanks for reading! Paul.

© 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 2019 by Paul Childs and Businessmastery.com .  created with Wix.com