10 Reasons why people resist change

Paul Myers MBA

Rapid change is a permanent fixture in the modern world so we need to understand why we resist it

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Resistance to change slows progress, it delays implementation. In some cases, it can arrest an entire project.

Change in business looks like this:

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This article will discuss the reasons why we resist change so that we can prepare in advance for the inevitable.

Reasons people resist change

There are numerous reasons why people resist a change process. Much of it can be addressed as part of the change program.

Here are 10 examples from the workplace that apply in all walks of life:

№1 — Fear of losing our job

Change is resisted because it has the potential to hurt. Ambiguity and uncertainty precede fear.

When new technologies displace old ways, jobs are lost, prices are cut and investments erased.

This can hurt people.

When we feel that business change is a threat to our job security and that such change will eliminate the need for our jobs, we tend to resist it.

This is known as loss aversion.

When you're finished changing, you're finished. — Benjamin Franklin

People are more concerned about the risk of loss than they are excited by the prospect of gain.

№2 — Fear of losing power

Threats to power, control, and influence are other sources of fear that cause resistance to change.

There is considerable revenue-ownership associated with an existing model. An operating that’s been successful thus far. For years even. Careers have been built on this way of doing things.

Any new model is perceived to threaten past revenues and reputations.

№3 — Fear of extra pressure

When people feel that change requires that they have to work more than they did, feel under more pressure, albeit temporary, so they will resist change.

The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. — Bill Clinton

№4 — Fear of not having the skills

Change is resisted when it makes people feel inadequate.

People worry that their skills will become obsolete, that they’ll lack the skills needed going forward.

If what they did in the past worked well, they may resist changing their behaviour out of fear that they’ll fail to achieve as much in the future.

№5 — Lacking awareness of the need to change

When people are not aware of the underlying business need for change, they will resist change.

Resistance to change is proportional to how much the future might be altered by any given act. — Stephen King

№6 — A belief that nothing can be changed

Ravi Kant said that “the most frozen layer in any organization, I think, is the people with experience who think they know best, who believe that nothing can be changed, and who typically exhibit a not-invented-here syndrome.”

№7 — No desire to change

Some people are hesitant to try new things, they express an unwillingness to learn anything new.

They think that ”I already know all that I need to know.”

Change before you have to. — Jack Welch

№8 — Don’t understand what change means

When people do not have the answer to the WIIFM factor, the question ”What’s in it for me?”, will resist change.

Our instinctive reaction to change is to pushback.

The first resistance to social change is to say it's not necessary. — Gloria Steinem

Stakeholders often resist change because they do not understand the implications it has on them.

Such misunderstandings lead to a belief that change will cost them more than they’ll gain.

№9 — They don’t believe in the leader

Misunderstandings are likely to arise when trust is lacking between the person initiating, driving the change, and the stakeholders who feel that they will be affected by it.

People resist change when they do not feel part of the solution, the approach deemed to fix the problem.

№10 — The culture is hostile to change

Gary Hamel said the “fact is, most businesses were never built to change, they were built to do one thing exceedingly well and highly efficiently, forever.”

This is your time and it feels normal to you, but really, there is no normal. There's only change and resistance to it and then more change. — Meryl Streep

That’s why entire industries can get caught out by change — industries like big pharma, publishing, music, and major airlines have been caught unawares.

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Final thoughts

Even when stakeholders intellectually understand the need for change they are emotionally unable to make the transition. Initially.

Change a process. But it’s also a certainty. Trust me that change will happen, with or without you.

Resistance is grounded in fear, often born out of false beliefs.

F.E.A.R. = False evidence appearing real.

Resistance is, therefore, our worst enemy. Loss-aversion blinds us from the doors of opportunity that await our arrival.

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Innovative Entrepreneurial thinker & Dreamer. I write about Leadership, Startups, Business, & Personal Growth. Connect with me here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-m-ecommerce/

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