How to Overcome Resistance to Change and Break Free from Old Practices That Are Holding You Back
It’s normal for people to resist change, even when breaking the status quo is the most logical step forward. I’ve got 3 tips for you to help your teams overcome that resistance.
Have you ever wondered why it can be so hard to try something new, even when we know it’s for the best?
Resistance to change is a common psychological phenomenon. It basically works like this: when our teams are faced with a new way of doing things, they instinctively feel challenged. Their brains go into overdrive, searching for a potential threat.
It’s a 100% natural response that’s meant to keep people safe. It unfortunately can also work against us and make it hard to implement new change management initiatives.
The good news is, we can understand this phenomenon better to help our teams adapt to change.
3 Common Reasons Why People Resist Change
Here are the top 3 common reasons why people resist change:
1. Fear of the unknown: It can be hard to accept change when you’re uncertain of the outcome. It’s even harder when that change disrupts your daily working routine. This is why people tend to stick with the status quo.
2. Loss of control: It’s natural to resist change if you feel like you’re losing leverage. If someone imposes a change upon you, you might feel like you don’t have a say or that your opinion doesn’t matter. This can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment.
3. Predictability: We’re attached to things that are familiar and predictable. We avoid things that require extra effort and energy. You might find yourself resisting change simply because it prods you outside your comfort zone. The more time, effort and resources required, the harder it is to make a change.
A little-known fact is that all 3 of these are actually rooted in a person’s identity.
Here’s what I mean:
Each person gets their sense of value and identity from the role they play in the team. If you were to implement a change initiative that affected the way they did their job, they might feel personally called out.
No one wants to lose that sense of security that comes from knowing they’re good at the job they do.
As a leader, understanding this fact will go a long way in helping you anticipate how your team members will feel about the business endeavor you’re initiating. It will also help you help them address their concerns.
3 Tips to Overcome Resistance to Change
Here are 3 tips that will help you overcome identity-related resistance:
1. Involve people in the change process: Make sure the people who will be affected by the change have a voice in the process. Take their opinions and preferences into account. Not only will they be more receptive to the change, but they will be more invested in it and likely to take ownership for their own role in it.
2. Communicate clearly and transparently: Some of the biggest headaches in life are simply a result of poor communication. You can save yourself a lot of stress by laying out your reasons for the change as clearly and transparently as possible – giving your team members plenty of opportunity to understand and see all the benefits. Make sure you also communicate any potential challenges or drawbacks so that your team members are prepared for them and feel like they’re being given a complete picture of the situation.
3. Provide training and support: Provide as much training as necessary to help your team members adapt to their new roles. By setting them up for success and giving them ongoing support, they’re much more likely to feel good about the new situations and prepared for the changes ahead.
Remember, at the end of the day, it comes down to empathy: understanding where your team members are coming from, and doing your best to acknowledge and address their concerns.
Here’s your action item for today: gather your team together and talk about the goals behind your next change management initiative. Be sure to keep the conversation streamlined and listen to each person’s input and specific concerns. No one should be left out of the process. I can say for a fact this is the most effective approach to overcoming resistance to change.
Thanks for tuning in with me today! If you know someone who’s trying to navigate a change initiative, please share this article with them on their favorite social media platform. I’m excited to see you on Thursday, same time and place, for more managerial goodness! Bye for now.
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.