Being a leader in an organization during the turbulent past decade has been challenging, and at times, perhaps has seemed like an overwhelming task. All indicators are that organizations will continue facing challenges created by sharp economic swings, keen competitive pressures, globalization of the marketplace, and reshaping of businesses worldwide. Simply put, change is here to stay.

Whether we like it or not, organizational changes result in managers and supervisors having to implement those changes. Having an understanding of the way change affects our organization, and recognizing the resulting impact of the change on the individuals within our organization, is critical.

Unfortunately for managers and supervisors, it’s a given fact that employees do not all respond to change with a positive attitude. Here are a list of ten signs that your employees may be, or may in the future, be resisting your efforts to enact change.

  1. They have a fear of failure. Some employee resistance to change is rooted in fear. During periods of change, an employee may feel the need to cling to the past because it was a more secure, predictable time.
  2. They are creatures of habit. Doing things in the same routine, predictable manner is comfortable. Asking people to change the way they operate or think requires them to move outside their comfort zone. “We’ve always done it this way, so why do we need to change?” becomes the rallying cry for people who have difficulty changing their routines.
  3. They see no obvious need. “If it has been working all this time, and working well, why do we need to change?” Like the old expression, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”, employees within an organization may only see a change from the perspective of the impact it has on them and their particular jobs.
  4. They don’t want to lose control. Employees working in familiar routines develop a sense of control over their work environment. They know what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, they are confident about their contribution to the organization. For some employees, asking them to change the way they operate creates a feeling of being powerless and confused during the transition.
  5. They are concerned about support system. Employees operating within predictable routines know their support system will back them up during challenging times. When organizational systems and structures are changed, some employees may resist the change because they lack confidence in their support system.
  6. They are closed mind. For a variety of reasons, some employees seem to approach all change from an attitude of “Please don’t confuse me with any further facts or supporting documentation about this proposed or required change—I’ve already made up my mind!”
  7. They are unwilling to learn. Some employees, hesitant about trying new routines, express their resistance by being unwilling to learn anything new. They may say, “I already know all that I need to know,” or “I don’t need to know that!”
  8. The fear that the change may not be better. If things have been going well, some employees resist change because they fear that the change will not result in improvement. Focusing only on their part of the operation, they may fail to realize that change is needed in order for the organization to stay competitive.
  9. They fear the unknown. Employees may resist a change within their organization because it is something unfamiliar. Not knowing much about the specifics of the change, they think about a worst case scenario, which can be very scary. Rather than find out more, they let fear of the unknown become their rationale for not giving the change a chance.
  10. They fear the personal impact. Viewing change from a personal standpoint, some employees may respond by asking how the change will benefit them directly. Will it make their job easier? Will they have to work harder? Will the change put their job security in jeopardy? Will the change force them to work with different people or learn a new job? These are all initial responses supervisors may experience when they announce an organizational change to employees.

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