Change Resistance

Know your Audience

Who will be affected by this process or change? An analyst cannot operate in a bubble. You must ask yourself who will be affected and how might the respond. It makes sense that when developing or modifying a workflow to consider what the lasting effect will be. Will this change streamline an operation and eliminate existing man hours,will those hours will be coming from someones job load? How will these workers react to having responsibility and work taken from them. Is it a good idea of involve them how they are currently perform their daily tasks? Is there another way you can analyze the process without involving those closest to it? These types of questions will help you identify who's affected and how you should interact them them.

Employees resist change for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from a straightforward intellectual disagreement over facts to deep-seated psychological prejudices.

Some of these reasons for employee resistance may include:
  • belief that the change initiative is a temporary fad
  • belief that fellow employees or managers are incompetent
  • loss of authority or control
  • loss of status or social standing
  • lack of faith in their ability to learn new skills
  • feeling of change overload (too much too soon)
  • lack of trust in or dislike of managers
  • feeling that the organization is not entitled to the extra effort
For some people resisting change, there may be multiple reasons. Adding to this complexity is the fact that sometimes the stated reason hides the real, more deeply personal reason. You will also need to recognize that people work through a psychological change process as they give up the old and come to either embrace or reject the new.

Most often, this type of resistance is often found in organizations where process improvement is the primary motivating factor in the change. Maintaining the status quo means that new tasks aren't added, workflows are not modified, and the risk remains low - an appealing prospect to many workers. This is especially common within a weak matrix environment where functional managers may be challenged to choose between embracing the change and giving up a degree of power or resisting.

Political resistance to change is all about self-image and the perception of power. Unlike emotional resistance, political resistance kicks in at the exact moment people learn about change. The Political graph line in Chart A begins with a swing to the negative and then slowly trends back up into positive territory, tracing initial questions about the personal impact of change. People think things like "This could cost me my job" and "Why wasn't I asked about this before the decision was made?" Over time, and as the change process unfolds, even the most seasoned political players learn to adapt, compensate, and otherwise protect their sense of importance, moving them back to positive ground. Warning: there is risk that political resistance will derail your project if it is left unchecked at the crisis point on the graph. To minimize the impact of political resistance, be sure to involve the right people up-front as you plan change and anticipate individual reactions - both of which will help you accelerate the path to acceptance.

Green, Mark (2009), Overcoming Resistance to Organizational Change,