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Turn difficult people into supporters of change.

By Ruth Tearle

People who resist change, are not ‘difficult people’. Rather they are often highly intelligent people who have thought about the change carefully, and have good reasons for resisting it.

Here are 10 common reasons why people resist change in organizations:

1. They don’t see the benefits.

resist-changePeople who resist change don't see much benefit for themselves resulting from the change. All they can see is extra work and extra stress. Cutting costs, or restructuring simply means “We have to work harder to make the shareholders richer.’” And that is often true.

2. The benefits are not worth it.

People who resist change believe that the benefits resulting from the change, are not worth the extra work and stress they will experience in order to make the change work.

3. The change will hurt them.

People often resist change because they will be worse off as a result of the change. Their past experience or skills will no longer be seen as valuable in the new environment. Their status may diminish. They will feel less important and may even feel discarded or redundant.

4. They don’t believe the benefits will be achieved.

People who resist change often see a number of barriers to the change, that are being ignored by the leaders. These barriers will, in their minds, prevent the change from working. Many of them, have been through many change processes before that have not been implemented well. They have seen so many projects starting with a great fanfare, and never completed. “Why should this one be different?” They ask.

5. They don’t see how this change is going to work.

When people attend a launch of a new project or change, they want answers to the following questions, before they are prepared to trust that the change will work.

  • Where is the implementation plan?
  • Is the change actively supported by people in power?
  • Who is responsible for what? Are there clear roles?
  • Does everyone have the support they will need?

afraid6. They feel afraid.

Will they be able to master the change? Will they be made to feel incompetent?

7. They don’t know what is expected of them.

Some people tell them this change is worthwhile. Others are saying it is a waste of time. They don’t know who to believe.

8. They don’t trust you.

People won't support people they don't trust. Perhaps in the past, you failed to listen or care for them. They don’t see why they should go out of their way to help you now. They don’t trust your intentions. You say the change will benefit them, but can they really believe it? Are you not just trying to manipulate or bully them?

9. They don’t feel valued.

If people don't feel valued, then they won't be motivated to work harder to make your change work. Many will ask, 'does it really matter if we contribute or not?'

10. They don't see it as a priority.

People who resist change, are not difficult people. They are usually highly intelligent people who are asking you to do your job as a leader.

They are already overloaded with work. They don't have the time for your change. They are being measured and rewarded for other work. Time spent on your change, will mean they will have less time to spend on work that they are being measured on. So it is not in their best interests to support your change.

People who resist change, want to ensure that you as a leader have done your preparation, before you ask them to support you.

The bottom line of why people resist change.


Before committing to any change, a intelligent person will ask themselves this question. Are the benefits I will receive from the change worth the extra work I will need put in? And will I actually see these benefits or will politics or lack of implementation mean that I am simply wasting my time by supporting this change?

If you can answer this question clearly, they will support you. If you can't answer this question clearly, then you will get resistance.

Before you attempt to communicate with any employees it is important to take the time you need to get a clear answer to this question. One way to do this is to develop a comprehensive change management strategy. This will provide you with the information you need answer employees' questions and objections clearly and simply. By doing so, you will win their respect and support.

You may also like:

  • Change management for organizationsA library of practical articles, guides, diagnostic tools, case studies, dashboards and solutions to use when doing organizational wide change.
  • Change management for teamsA library of practical articles, guides, diagnostic tools, case studies, dashboards and solutions to use when managing change in teams.
  • Change management resources Practical change management kits to give you instant results and credibility - from our store.
  • OD Interventions library Use this library of 1 and 2 hour OD and change interventions when you need quick, practical activities for a meeting, conference or workshop.

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