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How to manage resistance to change in a workplace?



How to manage resistance to change in a workplace?

Change is important in the workplace. To succeed with change, you can use tools such as exercises and strategies. When employees are included in the process, change can be more successful, and not all changes lead to negative outcomes. Change management is the creation of a strategy, for transitioning from one system or process to another when implementing new change.

So, how can we really define resistance to change? Employees can be resistant when a company changes the way things are done. They may oppose the change, or their behavior could show how they feel but not in an obvious way. This fear results from a desire for stability that is part of our “human programming”. When people do not know what will happen it can make them uneasy, which makes them cling to predictable patterns.

What are the dangers of not adapting to new technology? How do you get rid of non-adaptive behavior? When the buy-in of your employees is not achieved, you will fail the transformation process. Implementing a change without buy-in from management can also cause failure and problems – either way, the costs can outweigh any benefits. People will resist change when they feel threatened or vulnerable by someone – the fight in their natural instinct triggers resistance. People will be hesitant to go along with change if they feel like it’s only going to benefit the company and that their opinions won’t be heard.

During new change initiatives, it is important to work with your most trusted employees, as they are likely resistant to the change. Especially during a top-down approach, where leadership tries to push down initiatives. Employees are afraid of not being able to keep up and learning new things, or they may find themselves unqualified, or unprepared for the new changes. Training and education can be given so that these employees may learn their jobs better, and gain knowledge and confidence in the new changes.

A map of mistakes to avoid when trying to manage change

For the project to be successful, you need to be aware of what can happen during transition. Do not rush changes and give your employees too many unrealistic deadlines. Work on smaller milestones and be flexible with timing to ensure the project is successful.

The best defense against uncertainty is providing opportunities for questions. Instilling a feeling of comfort by applying predictability is key to lowering their anxiety while they seek answers.

Before you get started, communicate the new changes to your key employees and provide enough time for them to become acquainted. This will make them more accepting of the process and their uncertainty levels will decrease over time.

“Research shows that a handful of people create a disproportionate impact in organizations. Traditional talent management tools help us to identify these people based on their impact to the formal organizations looking at human capital measures, leaving up to 50% of these influencers undetected. OrgMapper is one of the few tools in the market that breaks this paradigm by shining a bright light on the informal interactions, identifying the additional influencers based on their social capital footprint. The Maven7 team is leading the way in reinventing the way we think about organizations.” – Michael Arena.

How to manage resistance to change in a workplace? 

As there are some common causes behind resistance to change, such as lack of trust and confidence, purely emotional response to change, employees’ fear of failure, lack of transparency and miscommunication, wrongly managed timelines and many more, one needs some well-established methods and guidelines to navigate through uncertainty.

The lack of buy-in from your employees will lead to an unsuccessful change initiative and is a waste of time, money, and resources. Typical communication strategies haven’t been effective because they are top-down as opposed to a bottom-up approach. With identified change agents in your company, you can build a network of trust that percolates and ultimately engenders better behaviors.

Tip 1:

One of the main barriers to change initiatives is that employees may not trust leadership or the company. This is why it’s important to address potential resistance from employees by partnering with your most trusted employees when you are rolling out a change initiative rather than managing it from the top-down.

Tip 2:

Training and education are vital for employees to get the skills and knowledge that they need. This improves their confidence in handling any new situation – because at the end of the day, it’s just another problem to solve.

Tip 3:

In order to create change, you need to communicate with employees. If your employees are not on board with the changes you want to initiate, they may be speculating about what the changes will entail.

Tip 4:

Every large company is constantly evolving, and this can necessitate change. If you don’t involve your team in a change, they’ll get demoralized and like the change less. For effective change, you need to consult with those who are being impacted by the changes, explain why we’ve undertaken them, and show them the value for their work.

How can organizational network analysis decrease resistance to change?

When transforming your organization, should encourage participation from employees and provide adequate information to help them feel confident about the new norms. Identifying change agents in your organization will allow you to use human resources more efficiently to uproot bottlenecks. A peer-to-peer approach will lead to faster ROI and higher visibility and impact on the organization.

Organizational Network Analysis helps consolidate a data-driven, evidence-based decision-making culture in the organization, helping you better prepare for handling changes and uncertainty. ONA helps organizations succeed because it reveals the power of social connections. Everyone in an organization relies on others, they don’t work in isolation. Employees who are experiencing social isolation are often not just isolated at work but also in the community. It is also important to identify what is working with how humans interact and how they work together.

“What is organizational network analysis?” Video:

Identifying the real influential and trusted people in your organization will help you to use your human resources organically, to build trust, alignment engagement, and support from your entire workforce for programs aimed at your organization’s development and growth. A bottom-up approach will create success quickly and at a low cost. This approach engages employees as well as other stakeholders, is customized to the current needs of the company, and fosters a natural flow of information.

Influencers can act as communicators and social integrators, supporting top management in reaching the entire workforce in a timely, trustworthy, and effective manner. If your organization has a trusting culture, where employees feel engaged and communicated transparently, there is less of a chance for resistance to change.

In a nutshell, when implementing a change initiative in your company, be sure to get the buy-in of your employees by listening to their concerns. This will increase risk management and help create success.


OrgMapper provides consulting on how to expand communications quickly in all pockets of the organization to tackle business problems effectively. Over the course of more than a decade, we have found ONA to be beneficial for employee engagement. It increases the cohesion and satisfaction with the company, which becomes a personal and empowering experience for employees.