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How to Manage Resistance to change


Resistance to change is the healthy part of any change process. Manage it effectively and it will strengthen your change initiative. When ignored, it can quietly undermine all your great intentions


Resistance is natural response to change which is healthy part of any change process and recognizing and managing resistance is a key skill for the effective change manager. Whenever we want to innovate, create or change something, there is one thing one need to be ready for : Resistance . Because when people experience change, resistance is a natural reaction. Resistance to change is unavoidable in case of organizational change, be it small or big change. Resistance is degree of disruption a change creates for an individual. It’s a way for people to shield themselves against changes in their job, tasks, work behaviors and culture, power and performance measures. This means one need to handle that resistance in a calm and positive way to avoid its occurrence


Recognizing resistance to change and employing change management tools


Recognizing and acknowledging the resistance is really important as it will not fade away easily but will fester and grow to be much bigger than it really is. Resistance is the normal human reaction in case of change and good change management tool can mitigate and engage employees at the time of change. Following change management tools can help to mitigate the resistance to change:


  • • Capuring and leveraging the passion and positive emotion helps in preventing resistance from occurrence.
  • • Keep senior leaders continuously engaged as active and visible sponsors of the change.
  • • Need to utilize structured change management approach in the beginning of the project
  • • Communicate the need for the change and impact on employees along with the benefits employees are going to reap from the project.


Find the Root Cause of Resistance


Finding the root cause of resistance and understanding why workforce is resistant to change is must for effective resistance management. Organization need to identify the primary reasons for employees resistance and with the help of this knowledge change management team can adequately prepare case, as why there is need for change. In most of the cases, the primary root cause of resistance to change is as following:


  • • One might fear the loss of job with implementation of changes.
  • • It will impact the current job role or profile along with working environment which is going to be changed.
  • • There may be lack of awareness amongst the workforce as why the change is being made.
  • • One may have gone through difficult phase in organizations past performance with change.
  • • There may be absence or lack of visible support and commitment from the senior leaders and management


Manage Resistance to change by formally preparing for change


Regardless of how well companies manage a change, there is always going to be resistance. To manage resistance to change, following proactive step can be introduced to combat resistance which is part of change management approach:

  • • Prepare for Change : During initial period of project, when change management strategy are being created, leaders need to generate anticipated points of resistance and special tactics to be used to manage them based on readiness assessments.
  • • Manage Change : The leaders need to draft resistance management plans in the initial phase along with communication plan, sponsorship roadmap, coaching and training plan. The resistance management plan contains specific actions and steps for addressing resistance and understanding them. This change management plans will help to address the likely barriers for making the change process successful.
  • • Reinforcing Change : In this stage one need to collect feedback to see how employees are adopting and complying with new workflow and process drafted by the change. By evaluating feedback one can identify gaps and manage the resistance that may be still occurring. Formally addressing the resistance ensures barriers are understood and dealt with throughout the life cycle of the project.


Create "win-win" situations with Motivation


Key to managing resistance within organization is to understand the motivating factor in change. Each member can think about what their motivation might be, how this will be affected by the change and how one can revise change plans accordingly. One need to remember organization can never combat or overcome resistance to change, instead one need to take time to surface resistance, understand it and then manage it to create “win-win” situations. Resistance may be out in open or lurking in the dark corner of room, but truth is it will exist. Therefore, approaches like discounting resistance, denying it existences, trying to beat it down, will only worsen the situation. Where ever possible make it easy for the target to back down from his current position without losing face.