Top reasons for resistance
Participants gave a variety of reasons for resistance by employees and managers. The
top-five reasons for employee resistance were:
Lack of awareness. Participants indicated that the
primary reason for employee resistance was a lack of awareness about the change and why
the change was needed. Employees did not clearly understand why the change was happening,
nor did they have adequate knowledge regarding the change itself. Employees did not have
the answer to the question "what's in it for me?" - or WIIFM. This could
include: Will I have a job? How will it impact my daily work? How will I benefit from the
Comfort with the status quo and fear of the unknown. Participants
indicated that employees tended to be complacent or that the current way of doing business
had been in place for a long time. The current processes and systems seemed
"fine" to employees, and they were opposed to the change since it forced them
out of their comfort zone. Uncertainty and fear about the future state also reduced the
desire of employees to change.
Organizational history and culture. The
organization's past performance with change projects impacted the employees' perception of
the current change project. Employees were desensitized to change initiatives, as many had
been introduced and failed. The project was seen merely as the "flavor of the
month" and employees expected it go away like those in the past.
Opposition to the new technologies, requirements and
processes introduced by the change. Many participants felt that some employees
resisted the change because of opposition to the actual change itself. Employees were
opposed to changes that increased the performance requirements and measurement of their
work. The change was seen as adding unwanted work, responsibility and accountability.
Lastly, some employees opposed the new processes, systems or technologies because they
felt the change would not solve the problems they were experiencing.
Fear of job loss. Employees perceived the business
change as a threat to their own job security. Some employees felt that the change would
eliminate the need for their job, while others were unsure of their own abilities and
skills in the new environment.
The top-six reasons for manager resistance to change were:
Loss of power and control The leading reason for
manager resistance to change was a fear of losing power. Changes often eliminated
something the manager had control of or introduced something that the manager would not
have control over. Managers perceived the changes as infringements on their autonomy, and
some participants indicated that the change was even perceived as a personal attack by the
managers. Managers reacted to the change initiative as a "battle for turf."
Overload of current tasks, pressures of daily activities and
limited resources Managers felt that the change was an additional burden. Limited
resources compounded the problem. The change initiative seemed like extra work and
resource strain at a time when the pressures of daily activities were already high. In
many projects, managers were expected to continue all of their current duties in addition
to the duties of implementing the change.
Lack of skills and experience needed to manage the change
effectively Managers were fearful of the new demands that would be placed on them
by the business change. Several skill areas were identified as areas of concern. First,
managers were uncomfortable with their role in managing the change. Some feared that they
would become the target of mistrust and anger from employees. Others did not have the
experience or tools to effectively manage their employees' resistance. Also, managers were
concerned about the skills, knowledge and responsibilities placed on them by the new
business processes and technologies.
Fear of job loss Managers felt that the business
change would ultimately impact their own job security. Editorial note: middle management
positions are often victims of large-scale business change. One participant reaffirmed
this fear: "They [managers] were eliminated in the change, so no resistance was
Disagreement with the new way Some managers
disagreed specifically with the change. They did not feel that the solution was the best
approach to fixing the problem. Managers who did not play a role or provide input in the
design and planning phases tended to resist the solution. Some participants felt that the
resistance was due to the solution not being the idea of the manager ("not invented
Skepticism about the need for change Managers were
not convinced of the need for change. They did not see the business issues driving the
change or they did not identify the same problems as the design team.