Why Staff Resist Change – are they just stuck in their ways?

Posted on 6th April 2016

No one can deny that the pace of change can often seem relentless and never ending. Businesses that cannot keep up fall behind, and many actually go out of business. There are many drivers for change and various factors involved, but as with so many things in business if you have a workforce that is open to change and willing to adapt it will be SO much easier.

However, if one thing is almost guaranteed to cause some element of resistance or even fear in an organisation it is change. There are many reasons for this, and most are not deliberate actions from the employee(s) but they need addressing for the change to be a success. I often hear from managers and business owners that a certain employee “just doesn’t cope well with change”; but why is this? Could it be that in the past change has not been managed very well so they are concerned the same thing will happen again? Could this be your chance to show how it can be done well, and break that psychological association with change?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) list change management as one of the top six causes of stress and stress-related illness in the workplace. The wording here is subtle but important – change MANAGEMENT, not the change itself.

Resistance to change can result from many things such as lack of trust, lack of information, or perceived threats to competence or status. If someone has done a job for so long they may feel out of depth being asked to do something completely different, or they may feel uncomfortable admitting they need extra help or training to achieve the goal. Some other reasons can include habit, fear of loss of freedom, and fear of the unknown.

If you know your team, with some thought and planning you can try and anticipate how each person will react, and manage the change accordingly to overcome these barriers. As with so many people management issues, what you need is to PLAN, to KNOW YOUR TEAM and to COMMUNICATE.

Over the years as a team we have worked in many businesses that are going through changes, both minor and very major. It is rare that the any issues are caused by the actual change itself being wrong, but often things are rushed and poorly managed and that is where the issues come from.

As a trainer I really enjoy working with managers to help them understand all the drivers behind the resistance they are so keen to overcome and help them to manage change better and get better results for all concerned. We focus very much around the change curve and the skills needed to help employees through this curve and on to high performance. If this is something you would like in your business then have a look at our course outline and give us a call to discuss your needs.


Emma Wynne Character
Written by:
Emma Wynne
Managing Director