Change in the workplace is inevitable, especially in the global knowledge economy. Given this, adaptability and flexibility are highly sought after skills in the workplace. However, not every employee is willing to embrace change and some will go as far as to actively resist it. Knowing that change is unavoidable in today’s business landscape, leaders and managers need to understand why their employees are resisting change in order to help them overcome it. Here are eight reasons why people resist change in the workplace.
It goes against our nature to make decisions that work against our current situation. In an organisational environment, this means that employees will resist change that will result in their role being eliminated or reduced. Employees fear losing their job or being put into other positions without their involvement in the decision.
Employees will resist change that does not benefit them, meaning that you will need to reward them in some way for implementing your change. Without a reward, your team will have no motivation to support your change in the long term.
The less your employees know about changes being made and the impact it will have, the more fearful they will become. If you do not prepare your team for change and spring it on them suddenly, they will be sure to push back out of fear of the unknown. Managers not only need to give employees adequate notice of change but should guide them in understanding how the change will affect them.
Sudden changes to the job may result in your employees doubting their ability to perform their duties. They are comfortable with what they know and thus resist change as they are worried that they will be unable to adapt to new work requirements. Everyone fears failure, making it your job as a manager to help quell these fears and retrain as necessary.
Employees tend to get into a routine when at work, which change tends to disrupt. However, these familiar routines help employees gain a sense of control over their work environment and changing this will lead them to feel confused and out of control. This loss of control scares workers, leading them to resist change.
People’s past experiences will influence the way they react in different situations. Some of your employees may have had change negatively impact their life in the past, making them resistant to workplace change. Additionally, if your organisation has handled change poorly in the past, your employees are likely to rebel (and with good reason).
When making changes in the workplace, it is critical that your team understand why the changes are needed. If they do not understand the reason behind the change or do not think the change is needed, they are sure to resist. This is particularly true if your team has been doing things the same way for a long time and strongly believe the current way of doing things works well.
If you have been with your team for a long time, you have probably built up a level of trust over your time as manager. However, when changes are brought upon by a more recent leader who has not developed that same level of trust, mistrust may turn into resistance to change.
Understanding why people resist change in the workplace is the first step to helping managers overcome it. Now that you have an understanding as to reasons why your employees may be rebelling against change, here are four strategies for you to help overcome your team’s resistance:
If your team members are resisting change, you may believe it is easiest to write their behaviour off and hope that they adapt in time. However, as we have just outlined, there are a number of reasons behind an employee’s resistance and the best leaders listen and find out.
The best chance of improving the situation lies in knowing and understanding the employee’s point of view. Listen to them and find out what they care about to determine why your employee is resisting change. Once you understand what they care about, work with them to help them understand what you care about. This way, you can find common ground and decide on a plan to help them feel more at ease with your changes.
Once you find out what your employees care about and listen to their point of view, you need to address their concerns. For example, if an employee is fearful that they will be unable to perform the new tasks required of them, reassure and encourage them. Tell them that you believe in them, know that they are capable and assure that they will receive the correct training to perform a new role. Addressing your employee’s concerns will make them feel part of the decision, leading them to better embrace change.
Resistant employees are likely worried and confused, so be sure to not reprimand or punish an employee resisting change. Instead, engage them in team learning conversations. Provide them with an opportunity to understand the necessity of the change, which will ultimately improve their attitude towards change in the future. Some team learning conversations you can have with your employees after implementing change include:
After completing the above strategies, continue to monitor your employee’s behaviour to ensure that they are adapting to change in a positive way. If you find that they continue to be resistant towards change, you may need to readdress their concerns and determine whether your changes are actually causing harm. However, to ensure the success of your organisation in the ever-changing workplace, it is critical that you train your employees to embrace and adapt to change.
Here at V-Teamwork, we offer an immersive learning experience that equips leaders to manage change in the workplace through the strategies we have outlined. The program also enables employees to adapt to change quicker, saving revenue loss.
Our program is like nothing else you will find online and aims to empower leaders and teams to reach their full potential through experiential learning.
Find out how we do it at V-Teamwork.