Reasons and Motives to Resist Change

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Reasons and Motives to Resist Change
Marten van der Zee, Student (University), Netherlands, Premium Member
I'm trying to collect a list of all motives for resistance to change by employees.
Henk Kleijn and Fred Rorink in their book 'Change management' indicate that there are multiple psychological motives for showing resistance by employees or managers during a 'change':
1. FEARS (I don't know if I can handle in practice...)
2. GUILT (I can't do that to my colleagues... (to cooperate)
3. ALIENATION (The change can't replace me...)
4. PERSONAL DISADVANTAGE (Financially I'm going to receive less than before...)
5. NEED (The change does not correspond with what I want)
6. THREAT (Due to the change, my position in the company gets weaker...)
7. DOUBTS (I don't know what risks are involved...)
Any further suggestions / improvements?

Reasons for Resistance to Change
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
8. FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH (We have already tried this before and it did not work before and it will not work now...)
9. TOO MANY CHANGES (There are too many changes for us to handle. We need to slow the amount of change...)
10. WE NEED STABILITY (The new boss is a changeaholic: we need some stablity, not more chaos...)
11. TECHNOLOGY (Technology is the solution, we need fewer employees and more automated systems or tools...)
12. NO RATIONALE (Why are we changing? What is our vision and mission?)
13. LACK OF COMMUNICATION (Why are we changing? What is our vision and mission?)
14. OVERCONFIDENCE (Everything is OK, why change, avoidance of new ideas...)
15. CHANGE IS NOT FOR SENIORS (Seniority is everything: the senior union employee does not have to change...)
You may want to change the labels. Hope this helps.

On 4. Personal Disadvantage
Harry Whitney
This basically means the perception is: "I have a stronger motivation not to change".
The total of satisfaction, status and money in the current situation is better (real or perceived) than the satisfaction, status and money in the new situation.

Reasons for Resistance to Change
Jan Vermeulen, Manager, South Africa, Member
I agree with 12. and 13. The change will negatively impact business - no clear understanding of impact
A variant of 8. Flavour of the month is:
16. POLITICS (The change is perceived as part of office or corporate politics, without real merit or substance...)

Causes of Resistance to Change
Philip Jehu, Accountant, Nigeria, Member
17. CHANGE AGENT APPROACH: the manner of approach (attitude) of the change agent is also very important.
For example even if the change could be obviously useful, but the presentation (communication) has some elements of despise on the people you want to change, they could resist you, even if your intention for change is beneficial for the business and even if it is beneficial to them!

Resistance to Change is not Always for Personal Reasons
Verbeeck, Management Consultant, Belgium, Member
Change" is the consequence of implementing "a solution" to solve "a problem".
So people resist because:
A. They don't understand the problem (what's the problem, why do we change?)
B. They don't agree with the solution (who the **** invented this?)
C. They don't believe in the means (resources) put in place to implement the solution (trainings, tools...)
And finally...
D. They don't see the benefits for themselves.

Reasons not to Change
Peter Kaepernick, Strategy Consultant, Germany, Member
The fact is, change is constant and will take place all the time. With or without fear, guilt, threats or doubts.
However, what is the real challenge for employees or managers in the context of change?
- Is it my or the persuasion "I can handle it... whatever will happen?" or
- The ability to communicate to eachother or
- Transparency or
- Knowledge
- Flexibility... or
- All of these?
My question: how do I anticipate expected change? How can I prepare myself?

Reasons for Resistence to Change
Haragopal, Director, India, Member
I agree with 12. 13 and 14, the main reason for resistence comes from a lack of understanding the importance of change.
Though most of the time, change leads to better life for the person, he may not know and thus will oppose. The best thing could be, to properly communicate the benefits of change that may outweigh the disadvantages.
18. NOT INVENTED HERE (Sometimes, change is resisted due to ego clash i.e. why I should adopt change just because someone else proposed. In such cases, the concerned person need to be trained to think positively).

Reasons for Resistance to Change
19. LAW OF ARCHIMEDES: Resistance to change can be compared to Archimedes' principle (Editor: law of physics stating that the upward buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid the body displaces. In other words, an immersed object is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid it actually displaces).
Likewise, resistance wil be inversely proportional to the changes implied.

On Motives to Resist Change #6: Threat
Modekets, Accountant, Botswana, Member
A particular relevant form of this motive to resist chjange is when the change might render my job obsolete (there is a high possibility of me losing my job).
This is particularly true for technological changes which may lead to the company needing less hands on the job due to the advent of machines to perform such tasks.

Why People Resist Change
Ramesh Victor, Management Consultant, Malaysia, Member
In my experience people resist change for two reasons:
I. Aptitude problem. This is where the person does not have the skill needed to make that change or the skills needed to function as the change requires. This reason, once identified is easily addressed. Proper skills or knowledge has to be given through coaching and training.
II. Attitude problem. This is caused by an uneasiness to change. People usually undergo cultural, emotional and social conditioning. This conditioning has to be either removed or to be replaced with new conditioning. Otherwise a kind of fear of the unknown sets in.
Care has to be taken by the superiors to play the role of mentor, coach, guide and confidant in communicating the change effectively and then driving effective re-conditioning.

Reasons for Resistance for Change
Leena Bissoonauth, Student (University), Mauritius, Member
I would like to contribute the below reasons for resistance for change since I have just completed this module in my diploma in HRM.
1. Misunderstanding about the need for change/when the reason for the change is unclear — if staff do not understand the need for change you can expect resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works well…and has done for twenty years!
2. Fear of the unknown — one of the most common reasons for resistance is fear of the unknown. People will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel – that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction
3. Lack of competence — this is a fear people will seldom admit. But sometimes, change in organizations necessitates changes in skills, and some people will feel that they won’t be able to make the transition very well.
4. Connected to the old way — If you ask people in an organization to do things in a new way, as rational as that new way may seem to you, you will be setting yourself up against all that hard wiring, all those emotional connections to those who taught your audience the old way – and that’s not trivial
5. Low trust — When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance
6. Temporary fad — When people belief that the change initiative is a temporary fad
7. Not being consulted — If people are allowed to be part of the change there is less resistance. People like to know what’s going on, especially if their jobs may be affected. Informed employees tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction than uninformed employees
8. Poor communication — It’s self evident isn't it? When it comes to change management there’s no such thing as too much communication
9. Changes to routines — When we talk about comfort zones we’re really referring to routines. We love them. They make us secure. So there’s bound to be resistance whenever change requires us to do things differently
10. Exhaustion/Saturation — Don’t mistake compliance for acceptance. People who are overwhelmed by continuous change resign themselves to it and go along with the flow. You have them in body, but you do not have their hearts. Motivation is low
11. Change in the status quo — Resistance can also stem from perceptions of the change that people hold. For example, people who feel they’ll be worse off at the end of the change are unlikely to give it their full support. Similarly, if people believe the change favours another group/department/person there may be (unspoken) anger and resentment
12. Benefits and rewards — When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved

On Motives for Resistance to Change #8: Flavour of the Month
Juan Perez Eras, Accountant, Mexico, Member
@David Wilson : I agree and would like to suggest a variant of your Flavour of the Month:
20. LACK OF MANAGEMENT ENDURANCE: resistance to change sometimes is related to (bad) decisions that were made by strategic levels, when they designed and started implementing changes in the organization, but didn't continue and complete those actions to the final results.
Then employees will see those changes as "temporary fevers" to become "fashionable organisations, like competitors".
Strategic levels must consider intended changes as tasks that must be completely finished and evaluated to determine if those changes were good or bad for the company to get involvement from employees.

Motive for Resistance to Change: Uncertainty
Tykhonenko, Analyst, Ukraine, Member
Similar to #7 (Doubt) we could also use the term UNCERTAINTY.
Changes lead to uncertainty and uncertainty leads to risks. People do not like additional risks.

Most Important is what THEY Believe
FAYEZ, Management Consultant, Saudi Arabia, Member
21. CONFLICTING VALUES / BELIEVES. In case that the change is in conflict with personal believes, religious convictions, values or otherwise ethically not accepted by employees, that could be another source of motivation for resistance.

This List of Motives for Reistance to Change is Important to me
Gabriel Lira, Manager, Mexico, Member
The situation that I have in my plant is a high resistance to change in all levels. So I am going to take this list of motives to resist change very seriously in order to understand each individual situation and implement the changes succesfully. Thanks!

Is it a Cause or Just an Excuse?
Fareed Ezz, Analyst, Saudi Arabia, Member
I would like to highlight the importance to distinguish between causes and excuses; you can hear a lot of excuses for not willing to change, but the root causes are very limited.
So what about if we try taking the lists above and analyze if it is a real cause or just an excuse?

Causes of Resistance to Change: Not Engaging the People Affected via True Dialogue
Lenore Miller, Student (MBA), United States, Member
@Haragopal : I agree that NOT ENGAGING the people affected by a future change during the design phase of change is a key factor in causing resistance.
Also, the lack of the type of communication, specifically TRUE DIALOGUE, which is essential to making possible a shift in one's mental models. This form of human interaction enables the opportunity to co-create trust and shared meaning in a group that can lead to collective thinking and action. This is based on my experience in leading change and reaffirmed by key theorists, such as Bohm, Isaacs, Senge, Scharmer and many others.

The Notion of Change and Human Motivation
edward sevume, Sweden, Member
@Lenore Miller : While reading all of these wonderful contributions to the MOTIVES to resist change, I reflected about MOTIVATION - what motivates us most? Here at 12manage, many discussions on human motivation have already taken root and among others, were the fact that we do a good job depending on how we are appreciated by the boss, plus the environment we find ourselves in at work, and the feeling that we are welcome (read mirrored) as able and taken serious in all enterprise. Thus with change, the agent has to have social capital appreciated by those to be affected by it. With good leadership comes acceptance!
My second point is confirming Motive #8 (Flavour of the month) and #20 (Lack of Management Endurance). I have indeed observed such tendency to pursue change in a peripatetic way that leads to CHANGE FATIQUE resulting in negativity. In due course, when people hear talk about change, they exclaim - there we go again! It is a case where the organization has already received a beating and results are in the negative territory. In which case, change is perceived as a contributor to the negative results. People are then going to oppose it!

Causes and Motives to Resist Change
TEMILADE OKE, HR Consultant, Nigeria, Member
Similar to @Philip Jehu (17. Change Agent Approach), we can add:
22. CHANGE AGENT CREDIBILITY. Credibility of the change agent or change champions. Those leading the change must have a positive influence on others and be trustworthy. Change initiatives will not succeed in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.

Neuroscience Explanation for Resistance to Change
Juan Jauregui, Professor, Mexico, Member
23. NEUROSCIENCE EXPLANATION. A neuroscience hypothesis is that there is a natural resistance of the brain to re-learn.
The brain has to create millions of synaptic connections between neuron cells to learn new activities or processes.
As a general protocol of economy, the brain will resist to create millions of new synaptic connections that will require lots of proteins (to make neurotransmitters) and energy (from carbohydrate compounds) for activities or processes already learned and in use.

Motives for Resistance to Change also Depend on Region
Dr. Francis G. Adjei, Lecturer, Ghana, Member
The points raised in this discourse are very rich and real.
In Africa, in view of widespread poverty and high dependency ratio, job security and assurance of regular flow of monthly income are critical in deciding to accept or resist change. Workers want to be assured that the change will not affect their their financial and job fortunes before their cooperation can be secured.

Reasons for Resistance to Change
Goran Stille
@David Wilson: I am curious about your thinking pattern as you create "a list of reasons to resist change". How do you proceed from such a list in your thinking? How do you envision value to be created from items on the list and the list itself?

Control, Slight or Envy, and Sabotage
Heidi Mureau, Management Consultant, Australia, Member
This group has compiled an impressive list of change resistance drivers. I would add a few human factors that have little or nothing to do with the work environment or change per se.:
1. The psychological need to retain control. Generally seen in individuals with one or more significant personal issues such as family, health, marriage, substance abuse, victim of violence, etc.
2. The slight or envy generated if the resistor has previously attempted to drive the same change, but failed, or feels they should have been the one to deliver it.
3. The saboteur - whether due to personality conflicts with one or more of the change delivery team / sponsor, or due to the resistor being highly disgruntled and ready to cause dysfunction and chaos.

Resistance - Reasons and Values
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
@Goran Stille : if people understand the reasons or causes of change, they may be better prepared to respond to resistance. I believe leaders and change champions need to prepare an organization for change before embarking on major change initiatives.
My additions to the list may not be perfect or complete. However, being ready for change increases the opportunity for successful change for the organization or individuals. You cannot manage change without being prepared for change.
If you can develop a list that is applicable for your organization, your changes of successful change should increase. It's all about creating a vision, mission, goals and plans to enable the leaders and change champions to appeal and respond to the hearts, minds, and souls of people inside and outside of the organization.
Using the list in this forum may also allow leaders and change agents to assess their organization's needs. It's all about creating some value, plus adding to the list based on my own experience and my recent thesis. It is also possible to develop a SWOT or PEST analysis for each applicable reason.
When 70% of all major change initiatives fail, anything that prompts leaders and change champions to reduce the amount of resistance by being ready for change cannot be a bad idea.

No. 4: Personal Disadvantage
Fauzi Arif, Manager, Indonesia, Member
Will no. 4 personal disadvantage (financially...) be a reason also for a person who is in self-esteem in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? I mean: will a person whose 'level' is self esteem resist change for financial reasons?
Editor: yes and no. The reasons for resistance to change (if any) can differ per individual person and per 'level of human need'. Motive #4 is personal disadvantage. Financial disadvantage is one form of personal disadvantage. I think someone in a self-esteem level of Maslow's hierarchy is unlikely to resist change for financial reasons. But if she perceives the change is keeping her from reaching her self-esteem needs, she is likely to resist. Note that "Need" is mentioned as a seperate category (#5).

Why This List of Motives for Resistance to Change?
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Goran Stille: thank you for your question - why this list?
This list (of motives for resistance to change) was created through a collaborative process which combines insights from management science with the know-how and experiences of contributing members. We combine (scientific) rigour with (practical) relevance at 12manage.
The results of our joined efforts are published globally as a basis for further management learning, management research and - last but not least - management practice. Additionally there is a networking function involved as well, because members that contributed to some topic can be contacted by other members for further personal or professional assistance.

On Motives for Resistance to Change #4: Personal Disadvantage
Fathi Ben Amer, Management Consultant, Libya, Member
Implementing change in organizations means gains for some people, and a loss to others.
Hence, those not benefiting from a change of the status quo (current situation) would probably show resistance to change (subtly or at times openly).
It is the task of "change leaders" to remove such barriers to allow processing of change.

Why This List and the Importance of Networking
edward sevume, Sweden, Member
@Jaap de Jonge (Editor): Thank you for the answer regarding this list of motives for resisting change and the importance of 12manage.
In the era of the global village with information transcending cultures, 12manage has a normalizing essence as regards exchanging experiences and advancing learning! 12manage has a wide ranging database where reference can be made pertaining to issues of modern day management both in theory and practice. Coming from different environments, members are able to share their experiences and where applicable, these experiences can be used in management. Discussions can even be the base for further research on wide ranging topics a result of serendipity through discussion. I appreciate being member as it has given me further insights into how management techniques are applied around the world. It has helped me change my paradigm on how I look at management! The list on why we resist change is a case in point.

Effects of Organization's Change Process to Staff
kapukha patrick
Note that any organizational change may affect four pillars of staff: their competencies, control, comfort, and confidence can either be threatened or reinforced. This can result in (motives for) resistance.

One Obvious and Missed Out Cause of Resistance to Change
Kalindi, HR Consultant, India, Member
24 SHEER LAZINESS (inertia / complacency / sluggishness). This is another big culprit.
One may see the benefits of change but may not be very willing or motivated to move out of his comfort zone ("If I have survived without this change for so many years, I could easily last for a few more as is...")

Layers of Resistance to Change (Goldratt)
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Also take a look at Goldratt's 5 Layers of Resistance:
1. Raising problems having one thing in common – it’s out of our hands.
2. Arguing that the proposed solution cannot possibly yield the desired outcome.
3. Arguing that the proposed solution will lead to negative effects.
4. Raising obstacles that will prevent the implementation.
5. Raising doubts about the collaboration of others.
Source: Goldratt, E. M. 1996, My Saga to Improve Production, Avraham Y. Goldratt Institute.

In 1999, the second layer was broken into 2 by Lepore and Cohen so we get 6 layers:
1. Disagreement about the problem.
2. Disagreement about the direction of the solution.
3. Lack of faith in the completeness of the solution.
4. Fear of negative consequences generated by the solution.
5. Too many obstacles along the road that leads to the change.
6. Not knowing what to do.
Source: Lepore, D., and Cohen, O. 1999, Deming and Goldratt: The Theory of Constraints and the System of Profound Knowledge. The North River Press, pp 83-88

These 6 where re-formulated in 2000 by Smith into:
1. Disagreement about the nature of the problem.
2. Disagreement about the direction of the solution.
3. Disagreement as to whether the solution will result in the desired effects that are necessary for the organization.
4. Disagreement that the solution has no disastrous side effects.
5. Disagreement that the solution is viable in the environment.
6. Unverbalized fear.
Source: Smith, C., in: Smith, D. 2000, The Measurement Nightmare: How the Theory of Constraints can Resolve Conflicting Strategies, Policies, and Measures. St Lucie Press/APICS Series on Constraint Management, pp 156-159.

These Reasons for Resistance to Change are Perceptions
debahooti basu, Teacher, India, Member
Note that most or all of these reasons are (subjective) perceptions by people/employees.
I feel that our perceptions play an important role in change management. They stop us to take (rational) decisions about accepting the intended change.

Resistance to Change
Janice Johnson-Lorde, Student (MBA), Trinidad and Tobago, Member
Resistance may be disagreement with the change focus and purpose. Where it is felt that the cost benefit is to the disadvantage to the majority, one may be likely to resist as well as where leadership is poor or based on hubris or even narcissism.
Therefore in order for change to be accepted, stakeholders must know and understand whats in it for all concerned and most importantly: the true price, in the short, medium and long term.

Resistance is an Emotional Reaction!
Jean-Marc Guillemette, Canada, Member
@Verbeeck: some people affected by change have trouble understanding proposed solutions, either because of how they are presented, because they don't sufficiently consider factors like culture or perhaps because those involved are affected too much by their emotional reactions. There is much work to do to formulate solutions in ways that not only address the root of a problem, but emotional reactions as well. Resistance after all, is an emotional reaction that can't be addressed only in logical terms.

Resist the Risk of Failure
Kathy Hevey, Management Consultant, United States, Member
Consider it's not "the change" that people resist... What they resist is giving up who they are and how their world as been; they resist the chaos of moving from the old to the new as changes are implemented; they resist the risk of failure.
Often the top performers have the most difficult time because they know what it takes to be successful and now - you've taken that away from them.
Managers learn how to develop strategic plans and how to create action plans to implement a change, but don't understand that it requires a psychological readjustment on the part of everyone involved. It's PERSONAL - not just about the problem or the solution.
William Bridges has an excellent model and tools in "Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change". Chip and Dan Heath have a great analogy of an elephant and a rider that speaks to the same theory in: "Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard".

Motives to Resist Change: 'Know Thy People'
edward sevume, Sweden, Member
@Kathy Hevey: Thanks Kathy for that insightful contribution. One thing that emanates from what you are saying is that - know thy people and indeed the organization before embarking on change! Otherwise expect resistance.

One More Reason to Resist Change to Add to the List...
Verbeeck, Management Consultant, Belgium, Member
25. LACK OF SUCCESSES / RESULTS. When it takes too long to see positive results, people tend to get discouraged and go back to their old habits. Therefore, quick wins are important.

Lack of Success Because of no Evaluation of Changes
Juan Perez Eras, Accountant, Mexico, Member
@Eric Verbeeck: It's not cost-effective to wait for getting long-term results. Leaders should evaluate the results continuously by means of KPI's and motivate and get employees convinced that changes will help them and their company.

One More Reason to Change Resistance
Fareed Ezz, Analyst, Saudi Arabia, Member
26. Parental Control Allergy. Some people resist certain changes just because it reminds them of their parents and their parental control behavior.
Do such and so.. And don't do it like that...

Major Reasons for Change Resistance
Chloe Xu, Australia, Premium Member
People's resistance to change indeed attributes to countless reasons. Many however centre around a negative reaction that occurs when individuals feel that their self-interest or personal freedom is threatened.
Commonly found reasons people resist change include:
  • FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN: Change often come along with substantial uncertainty. Employees facing a technical innovation may resist the change just because it brings ambiguity into what they were once comfortable with.
  • FEAR OF LOSS: Employees may fear losing jobs or the positive qualities they enjoy in the job because of change, especially when an advanced technology is introduced.
  • FEAR OF FAILURE: Some employees may fear that changes will result in increased workloads or task difficulty, and subsequently may question their own competencies.
  • DISRUPTION OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Threaten to exist meaningful working relationships could contribute to resistance to change as well.
  • PERSONALITY CONFLICTS: When personality of the change agent is negative, resistance to change may create. A change agent who appears to turn a deaf ear to employees’ concern may confront considerable resistance, as employees perceive their says are not being heard.
  • POLITICS: Organisational change may also break the existing balance of power in the organisation, threaten individuals or groups empowered under the current situation.
Source: Nelson, D.L.; Quick J.C.; Wright, S. and Adams, C. (2011) "ORGB: Asia-Pacific Edition", 2011, pp. 292-293

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