How to Bust Through the Wall of Change Management Resistance

by | Jul 26, 2018

In today’s fast-paced and hyper competitive business environment change is the only constant. You know this. In a heartbeat your situation can completely change, and therefore, so must you. Change management is all about handling uncertainty and risk by being adaptable and fluid. Fail to do so and you risk being obsolesced- like so many before you.

“Change Management: a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved.”

But change is difficult. Really difficult. We all have had trouble changing. Whether it’s your diet you just can’t stick with, or that trendy 30-day fitness regime which you cant get past day two with… one thing is certain, change isn’t easy.

Organisational change management is no different. Change is a constant force in every organisation, and can be both positive (taking advantage of a new innovative business system) or negative (reacting to the entry of a new competitor).

When managers impose change using a top-down approach, staff will often strongly resist the change. The result is like smashing down both the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time. A lot of friction and tension is created, you don’t really go anywhere, you burn out your engine, and worse you may crash.

Watch: Organisational Change Management


Why do so many Change Management implementations crash and burn?

A pretty obvious- but all too often overlooked- aspect of change is the human emotional side. It’s so simple and so important. When confronting resistance to change it is not enough to only sort out the logical resistance to change with results, benefits and bottom line ROI. You must also address the emotional side with people’s concerns for their security, safety and routine. People are inherently creatures of routine and habit who inevitably are resistant to the adoption of new mind-sets, practices and behaviours.

As discussed by the Lincoln in the above video, resistance to change is due to misunderstanding and mistrust that derives from a lack of information regarding what the change actually means to the person. Therefore, communication is absolutely key. By communication I don’t just mean telling people what the change is, but rather listening to staff from the front-lines and making adjustments to the change process where possible. Involve your employees in the change right from the beginning – a top-down authoritative approach doesn’t work.

Frame the change outcome so that it highly positive (on both logical and emotional terms), whilst making the status quo unappealing. What you must understand is that change is not a discrete event, but rather a gradual, ongoing and fluid process. Nor is change an isolated event, it impacts the whole organisation and everyone who touches it.

Ultimately, the key to successfully overcoming change is to have a thorough implementation plan that is informed by your research. Don’t just blindly run into the change – if you do, it’s likely you are going to fall over.


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Shane leads 12d Synergy’s marketing and growth. In the wild, Shane is a shameless Meatloaf fan (both the singer and the food), with an obsession equally for the great outdoors and great spreadsheets.