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Use These 3 Strategies to Manage Resistance to Change

Change, irrespective of the sector, industry, experience, employees, etc. is sometimes tough to achieve. In many organizations today, transformational change is the least understood, as well as the most difficult type to execute. Although the change may be well planned, communicated and implemented, most times there will be some level of resistance. One must remember that change interferes with the culture, behavior, and mindset of employees and as such, to implement change successfully, you have to manage resistance.

Resistance to Change

Change is sometimes necessary and inevitable, unfortunately, though, employees sometimes view change as a direct attack on their performance or an unnecessary whim of management. In most cases, resistance arises from threats to traditional norms and ways of doing things, and as a result, it is a basic tenet of human behavior to resist any change.

I can clearly remember my first major change experience, it was very nerve wrecking since I was very confused about the change and how it will affect my daily routine on the job and quite naturally, I resisted. To efficiently execute any change, one has to take into consideration the environments your employees have grown accustomed too. Any change to an employee’s psychological contract will in most instances fuel that resistance. But even more critical; if management cannot adequately evaluate the impact of the changes taking place, this will lead to the non-fulfillment of the company strategic objectives. As a result, here are 3 strategies any company can use to mitigate any resistance to their change. 

Use Change Agents

Employees should have a role in the designing, planning and implementation of the change. Get your employees involve, have change agents within the departments and give them the responsibility to engage their fellow staff members about the change in an attempt to sell the vision. 

The change agents should be long-standing employees who have some degree of influence in the company. The principles of social proof taught us that people will naturally follow the crowd. As I mention in my book, when an employee recognizes that one of their long-standing compatriots share the vision of the manager or CEO, these employees will be far more convince to accept the changes as oppose to another speech from the boss, especially if there are trust issues in the organization.


Resistance to change is really ‘resistance to uncertainty’ and to overcome resistors, the leadership team must ensure that communication plays an integral role in the process. The Change Curve model as illustrated below, describes the four stages most people go through as they adjust to change. It is extremely important that one recognize these stages since it will have a significant impact on the outcome of the change.

For example, an initial reaction to change may be shock or denial, as employees react to the challenge of the status quo.

Stage one is critical and communication has to be a priority. Although employees may be able to absorb a limited amount of information, management must ensure that their employees have a natural pathway to access more information if they need it and to be patient enough to answer any questions that come up. I have seen some managers refuse to answer staff questions about a change in the organization and that derail the whole process even before it actually began.

In Stage two, people may fear the impact, feel angry, resist or actively protest against the changes. For many organizations, this is the "danger zone" and if managed badly the organization may descend into crisis or chaos. As someone responsible for implementing change, careful consideration should be given to the impacts and objections that people may have. Again, communication and support will play a vital role to minimize and mitigate the problems that people will experience.

Stage three and four is the turnaround stage and as such, this is where the changes start to become second nature, and people embrace the improvements to the way they work and in many instances show the commitment to the changes which took place.

The key to ensuring that the individual departments are in alignment with the shared goals and objectives of the organization; the company can plan and implement an organisation-wide communication approach, predominately from the bottom up. The importance of communication during any change is very important. I have witnessed the failure of change simply because management did not understand the vital role communication plays during the process. 


Leadership Commitment

Any management team leading a transformational change must commit to communication and to ensure the vision of the change is consistently communicated. Moreover, to make the change stick, an organization corporate culture often determines if the change will succeed or fail. Believe it or not, employees model their behaviors from the actions of management and as such, the leadership must consider their leadership values aligned with the core values of the organization. 

If the leadership does not “walk the talk” of the change, and show commitment to the process, the whole change process will be derailed. Your communication will have NO IMPACT if the leadership shows no committed to the change and as a consequence, the organization will always be in a whirlwind of change with no end in sight.

Change is challenging and leaders have a critical role to play in delivering sustainable change in an ever fast moving and demanding business environment. Resistance is inevitable, however if THE LEADERSHIP shows commitment to the process; inspire their team, genuinely communicate and embrace employee feedback, the change process can be very successful.  


About Gifford Thomas

I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 250,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.

You can pick up your copy of my book The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible by clicking the link below

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