NextMapping Future of Work Blog

Cheryl Cran

Welcome to the Future of Work blog – this is where you will find posts on all things related to the future of work.

We have guest bloggers that include CIO’s, Behavioral Scientists, CEO’s, Data Scientists including posts by our founder Cheryl Cran.

See all blog posts

3 Reasons Why People Resist Change And How to Get Them to Move Forward

June 20, 2011

I had lunch today with a Gen X executive- great lady, dynamic, knowledgeable and wanting to create change.

The challenge? People don’t take too kindly to change- generally.

There are a lot of reasons why we as humans resist change and now more than ever it is imperative that we create a company culture of ‘everybody on the bus’. If we have even one or two people who are impeding the forward movement we can slow innovation, be slow to respond to market shifts and risk our relevance in our respective industries.

The key is guide people to their choices- allow them to have a say in the changes and provide them with their options. Ultimately if they refuse to adapt a tougher decision mayneed to be made about whether that person is a true fit with the company as it moves forward.

Here are 3 reasons people resist change and how to help them move forward:

1. Fear- plain and simple. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know is the adage for most people when resisting change. The key with this is to alleviate and mitigate fear by providing clear communication about the direction the company is going, and addressing the skills and people you want to have on board to move with the changes. Point out the attitudes, skill development and behavior shifts that have to happen to help grow the company, identify how each person contributes or needs to improve their contribution. Get buy in that adapting to the change is a better choice than staying with the status quo.

2. Identity- protect it at all costs.

We  as humans are wired for fight or flight and when we perceive threat to identity such as our job title or job functions we will typically and automatically push back or resist. When creating change ensure you have visual anchors for everyone that show the new organization chart, the job opportunities, the job changes, and guidance on how to shift into a ‘new’ identity as the company morphs into its new self.

3. Path of least resistance– when people are rewarded with a paycheck for mediocre work there can be a sense of ‘entitlement’ that settles in. It is not a conscious awareness around it but people can begin to feel that what they are doing is already enough. When a leader is creating change they can feel ‘put upon’ or have a reactionary response. The best way to encourage them to move forward is to point out how the changes will make their jobs easier, faster and more fun. An example is continually changing technology Zoomers might resist learning the new technology until they find out that it will reduce their stress around customer delivery by a significant amount.

We are living and working in a “Technology Revolution” and we are moving through massive change. There is no text book for the times we are in right now- however moving forward does require individuals who are willing to change and adapt swiftly.