Why People Resist Change

  • Organizations are often about personal kingdoms much to the detriment of the group.  People are frightened to do the right thing because of the possible consequences of acting against the desires of mid-level management.  This speaks to the lack of support from those people both for a culturally healthy organization but also a certain level of comfort with the status
  • There’s a difference between cultural growth and innovation and technological innovation – while we excelled at the latter, we ignored the former
  • People have to be incentivized to change and when that is lacking (or the wrong model is rewarded) then it sends a clear message of what is valued
  • A lack of information and also a lack of involvement and control (not invented here mentality) both stand in the way of change, as does the fear of the unknown.
  • Overload is I think a frequent cause for resistance to change within the tech industry/world as a whole – the way technology has evolved and at times destroyed has allowed us to take on so much that one more “squishy” thing is too much
  • Resources are another reason for why people resist change as when you don’t have the appropriate support system in place

So how do you overcome resistance to change?

  • First, have a vision in place that is clearly understandable for the people being impacted – show people why staying the same is more painful than changing
  • Top management has to be a key stakeholder and sponsor for the change or it will fail before you even start
  • You have to have champions who are empowered to implement change and manage the process
  • You have to over communicate about what is being changed and why – this is one of the major downfalls for many change management programs and for leaders as a whole.  We tend to think that people get bored by repetition – this may be true, but you want them to not only truly understand the concept but be able to recall is with ease
    • Leverage multiple platforms and enable people throughout the org (especially influencers and oracles)
  • Make sure that people not only understand the desired change but what the change process looks like/how it will impact them (positively)
  • Back up the need to change with relevant data that supports it
  • Provide the education and training people need/want/desire to enable change (unfreezing old ways of thinking and acting and enabling learning new ways/overcoming fears)
  • You have to reward the right behavior and get rid of the bad … and brag about the organization’s success
  • Provide the necessary resources to enable desired change
  • Prepare people for the process – don’t surprise them with it!
  • Test the water with smaller projects when possible
  • At the same time, be sensitive to external and internal time/action requirements
  • Be positive about the needed change and be sure to show WIIFM to those involved
  • Be point blank when people resist and call them on it
  • Know when to kick people off the bus
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