Managing Change: 3 Reasons People Resist Change

by | Oct 7, 2016 | approachable leadership

Managing change is difficult.

It’s one of the hardest things for leaders to get right. This is because effectively managing change requires leaders to put strategy aside and get real with their team.

Remember our change management article on how to avoid “rolling the DICE” on change? It described the Boston Consulting Group’s DICE model. It is a valuable way to assess the hard factors behind managing change. Have you set a clear and attainable timeline? Did you thoughtfully configure the team? Is there a commitment from the top leadership and from the front line? Have you considered how this change project affects the other duties of your team? Does some work need redistributed?

There’s no doubt about it. In order to be successful in managing change efforts, you must think through the hard details. However, an article this month out of Talent Development Magazine points to employee resistance as the main cause of failed change efforts. And remember how commonly change efforts fail. Gallup tells us that, “70 percent of new initiatives implemented by organizations fail.”

Rick Maurer’s book, Beyond the Wall of Resistance, gives us three reasons why people resist change.

The three primary reasons people resist change are:

  1. “I don’t get it.” This has to do with a lack of information or understanding as to why the change is needed. If you’ve done a good job of running through the DICE factors, you should have everything you need to give employees a clear breakdown of how the change effort will be executed. But that begs an important question. Does your team know why the change is needed? How it will benefit them, the company, and the customers? If they don’t know these details, you are the weak link in the chain.
  2. “I don’t like it.” Here we’re taking into account a person’s “emotional reaction to how the change affects them.” This refers to the “Effort” and “Commitment” parts of the DICE model. Most changes make the workload more heavy (at least during the transition). Sometimes it lightens the load. While the idea of a little less responsibility may sound good, it often causes concern. A person may feel less valuable, less needed. They may fear their role is in jeopardy. And with that, their livelihood.
  3. “I don’t like you.” Let’s face it. If your leader is a jerk you may want to see him fail. You might even sabotage a change effort. Or you’ll have no motivation to help. Employees in this situation will lack grit and give up at the first sign of trouble. They feel little commitment to helping implement the change. They’ll lack trust and even question the motives behind the change (“is this just a way to get rid of my job?”)

The next time you’re struggling with managing change, take a moment to consider the three reasons your people might be resisting the effort.

If you’re struggling with managing change what should you do?

As Oscar Rogers teaches, it’s a three step process. Step One: Fix. Step Two: It. Step Three: Fix It!

The next article in our Managing Change series will help you get started on the three step process. We’ll be diving into how showing appreciation counteracts resistance.