How to Face Resistance to Change

Resistance to change can be difficult to overcome even when it is not detrimental to those concerned. But the attempt must be made. The first step is to analyze the potential impact of change by considering how it will affect people in their jobs. The analysis should indicate which aspects of the proposed change may be supported generally or by specified individuals and which aspects may be resisted. So far as possible, the potentially hostile or negative reactions of people should be identified, taking into account all the possible reasons for resisting change listed above.
It is necessary to try to understand the likely feelings and fears of those affected so that unnecessary worries can be relieved and, as far as possible, ambiguities can be resolved. In making this analysis, the individual introducing the change, who is sometimes called the ‘change agent’, should recognize that new ideas are likely to be suspect and should make ample provision for the discussion of reactions to proposals to ensure complete understanding of them. Involvement in the change process gives people the chance to raise and resolve their concerns and make suggestions about the form of the change and how it should be introduced.
The aim is to get ‘ownership’ – a feeling amongst people that the change is something that they are happy to live with because they have been involved in its planning and introduction – it has become their change. Communications about the proposed change should be carefully prepared and worded so that unnecessary fears are allayed. All the available can be used, but face-to-face communications direct from managers to individuals or through a team briefing system are best.

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New York University
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