The Other Five Reasons People Resist Change

Change is important, as every Supply Management organization should be constantly improving, and some improvements will require change, which could be significant. But change is not always easy as it is often resisted by individuals who fear the loss of control, excess uncertainty, unfamiliar situations, additional work, and surprise that change represents. This is something we know all too well, and something that has been discussed many times before.

But these are not the only reasons people resist change, and in a recent post over on the HBR Blog Network on Ten Reasons People Resist Change, the author does a great job of pointing out the other five reasons, which are often overlooked.

  • loss of face
    Change is a departure from the past, a shift away from the current process or strategy which was created, and instituted, by one or more individuals. As a result, you’re not just moving away from a process or strategy, but from the people who created it, who might get the impression that if there is a need to move on, they must have been wrong. And since they may not be able to accept the stigma of being wrong, they will be forced to defend their process or strategy and resist change, even when it is needed. As a result, a good leader will have to point out that the reason for the change is that the world has changed and the organization needs to keep up. They will have to make it clear that the shift has nothing to do with the process or strategy, which worked well when it was instituted when the world was different, but everything about keeping up with the shifting times.
  • competence concerns
    If the individuals who will be responsible for implementing the change are questioning their ability to do so, they will resist the change (as no one likes to feel incompetent). Unless the leaders provide sufficient education, training, and support, this reason for resistance will be hard to overcome.
  • ripple effects
    Like a pebble tossed into a pond, the effect of a change is never localized. The ripples produced by a change will inevitably affect other processes, departments, and even customers. These people will, in turn, rebel against the change they had nothing to do with that they perceive as interfering with their activities. Unless all stakeholders are included, and a plan collaboratively constructed to minimize their disruption, at some point, significant resistance will spring up seemingly out of nowhere.
  • past resentments
    The ghost of Change-mess past is always lying in wait to haunt us when the next change is introduced. If past errors are not corrected, and past hurts are not healed, they will return to plague our efforts and curse our prosperity.
  • a real threat
    Let’s face it, when new processes and technologies come into play, jobs can be lost, prices can be cut, and investments can be wiped out. Leaders have to make sure to be honest, transparent, fair, and fast to address the issue — and have a plan to retrain and reallocate displaced workers (who are interested in staying with the company).

There’s a reason change management is all the rage. It’s often much tougher than one thinks.