Project ManagementRisk Management

How to Identify and Remove Resistance to Change

Most people don’t like having their workplace rhythm disrupted by change. The uncertain future that change brings can be pretty daunting, regardless of where you are in the company. So naturally, there’s going to be resistance from people affected by it. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Elizabeth Harrin explains how to assuage the apprehension toward change.

Responding to Resistance

Resistance is a completely natural response to change, especially if similar changes were proposed in the past to no avail. Change requires breaking a lot of behavior patterns that took months, if not years, to learn.

When higher-ranking people express resistance, they cannot just be ignored, nor would you probably want to even if you could. These are people who can cause problems for your project, even when their resistance is quiet. For instance, they might delay decision-making, which throws the timescales out of whack and eats away at project benefits.

Alternatively, sometimes people will begin to actively push back against the change. One of the ways they can do this is through not showing up to meetings or showing up late. They’ll then fail to finish what was asked of them in the meeting. These individuals also may not follow through on their tasks if it involves change or may brush off any learning opportunities as “not enough time” to learn. In addition to this, some stakeholders may question why you do things a certain way or even ignore your attempts at contact altogether.

When it comes to moving past resistance, the first important steps are just to identify that it exists and to engage troubled individuals in a dialogue about it. About doing that, Harrin says this:

You should be more likely to achieve the project’s stated benefits and reduce the negative office gossip around your project. You should be able to engage with the teams affected by the change so that they can be better prepared for what is coming (and this shouldn’t be underestimated). You can change the type of communication you do so that the messages are forward-looking and positive, instead of having to deal with challenges and arguments all the time.

Research by Towers Watson says that companies that are highly effective at change management and communication are 3.5 times more likely to significantly outperform peer companies in their industry than organisations that don’t deal with change effectively.

She also notes the obvious that, if your proposed change may make a worker obsolete, then it may not be possible to sway him or her to your side.

You can view the original post here:

Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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