How Do Individuals Resist Change?

Nobody likes to change for change sake: the more mature of us accept that this is a normal part of life and deal with it accordingly.

Some people however, especially in the workplace, show real resistance and are difficult to deal with. Their common strategies include the following:

  1. Selective perception: they hold a very biased view of the position which fits neatly into what they hold dear and to which they subscribe. This point of view can be very hard to shift and challenge effectively without considerable effort from management.
  2. Habit: this is a form of a safety blanket where people can hide from reality. Old patterns are very persuasive and comfortable. Resistance comes directly when those old habits are being challenged and replaced by new working systems. Again, a clear message selling the change is essential here.
  3. Inconvenience/loss of freedom: if the change is seen as being “difficult” or if it will remove a system or procedure that was easy to follow/something that suited the individual’s needs then there will be a push back. Anything that brings increased control is also likely to be very unpopular!
  4. Changes in reward systems: anything that reduces payments will be universally unpopular! Increased effort for the same payment level threatens the status quo dramatically and does any actual or perceived threat to job security.
  5. Comfort in the past: reflecting on the past when times were different and better than what is being proposed or introduced. The temptation to hold onto tried and tested procedures and processes is very powerful.
  6. Fear of the unknown: the unknown always creates anxiety and fear and will generate high levels of stress and resistance.

The most common source of resistance is a perceived loss of some form – if you can get this focus in mind when introducing your change, and communicate your message with this in mind, you will have a far greater chance of success.

Good Luck!

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