Why Do People Resist Change?

Why Do People Resist Change?

Paul Sloane 06/12/2021 1
Why Do People Resist Change?

We all experience change and most of us grumble about it. We know that change is necessary.

We cannot keep doing things the old way.  But we do not like changing. Why do people oppose innovations and what can we do about it? In a survey we asked why people resisted change. The main reasons identified were:

  1. Fear of the unknown
  2. Suspicion of motives
  3. Bad prior experiences of change leading to low expectations
  4. People stuck in their ways
  5. Lack of self-confidence about accomplishing the change
  6. Change seen as unnecessary
  7. Evolutionary change seen as extended pain
  8. People not used to commercial bottom-line thinking

At a workshop we carried out a lotus blossom exercise to examine 64 possible reasons for resistance to change. We prioritised the subsidiary reasons and some of the highlights were:

  1. Ineffective communication
  2. People do not feel in control
  3. Distrust of management
  4. Wrong vocabulary used
  5. Fear of redundancy
  6. Fear of failure
  7. If it’s not broken why fix it?
  8. Internal focus – do not see bigger picture
  9. Fear they lack the skills
  10. Bad management

There is positive change and negative change and we should expect resistance to change. So if you are initiating a major change that will affect people you have a responsibility to evangelise the story behind the change, to listen, to talk, to plan and to drive the change. Convincing people of the need for change and motivating them to make the change a success are key challenges for modern leaders.

A good tool to use in advance of your change is Force Field Analysis.  It will help you to anticipate and deal with some of the opposition.

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  • Patrick

    This is an excellent article. I've been doing my research and this has helped me greatly.

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Paul Sloane

Innovation Expert

Paul is a professional keynote conference speaker and expert facilitator on innovation and lateral thinking. He helps companies improve idea generation and creative leadership. His workshops transform innovation leadership skills and generate great ideas for business issues. His recent clients include Airbus, Microsoft, Unilever, Nike, Novartis and Swarovski. He has published 30 books on lateral thinking puzzles, innovation, leadership and problem solving (with over 2 million copies sold). He also acts as link presenter at conferences and facilitator at high level meetings such as a corporate advisory board. He has acted as host or MC at Awards Dinners. Previously, he was CEO of Monactive, VP International of MathSoft and UK MD of Ashton-Tate. He recently launched a series of podcast interviews entitled Insights from Successful People.

   

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