According to Dr. A. J. Schuler, author of Negotiate Your Way to Success, there are 10 common reasons why people resist change.

Common Reasons Why People Resist Change

  1. Risk of change is seen as greater than risk of status quo
  2. Connections to people disturbed – “tribal bonding”
  3. No role models for new environment
  4. Fear of incompetence or looking incompetent
  5. Feeling overloaded, overwhelmed
  6. Healthy skepticism
  7. Fear of hidden agendas from those “pushing” change
  8. Feeling threat to sense of self
  9. Fear of loss of status, quality of life
  10. Genuine belief it’s a bad idea

Every change creates loss and endings. As leaders of change, many of us get so caught up in the excitement of what’s new, what’s coming, of the possibilities of bettering our workplace, our company’s bottom line or our customer’s experiences we don’t take the time to acknowledge that other people may be having a different experience. Just because someone is not “rushing to get on the bus” does not mean they are failing to be a team player or supporting the change. Effective leadership of change is dependent on HOW the leader initiates and manages the change and less about the change content itself.

“It’s as much about the how as it is about the what.”          ~Daniel Goleman

Consider these steps to addressing resistance the next time you encounter it. Try co-creating the solution instead of “telling” the resistor what they need to do.

9 Steps to Address Resistance

  1. Listen – don’t argue
  2. Listen – don’t give advice
  3. Listen – don’t try to convince them
  4. Diagnose – ask THEM what THEY need to move forward
  5. Increase information, involvement and immediacy
  6. Administer a healthy dose of inspiration
  7. Use instruction judiciously
  8. Reserve influence and incentives for when other approaches fail
  9. Keep your promises, follow-up and loop back

As Warren Bennis, a long time scholar of leadership says “becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It’s precisely that simple, and it’s also that difficult.”

Leading change and leadership itself starts with checking in with your own behaviour and attitudes. How are you thinking about and treating those that are still on the sidewalk? Are you assuming they are just being stubborn, or “not getting it”, or angry because they didn’t get their way? Try incorporating some of the following principles before you speak and you may be pleasantly surprised by the shift within yourself, and your relationship with someone who is feeling threatened by what you are proposing.

Principles for Supporting People Who Struggle With Change

  1. Maintain safety
  2. Create movement, not exposure
  3. Assume people are trying their best
  4. Look in the mirror
  5. Act consistently

So today, when you encounter that one person, or comment that you think is not supporting a change, what will your NEW attitude or behaviour be?