Thursday, 1 July 2010

5 of 5. Why we resist change

Living without change would be inconceivable and unbearable. At the same time few of us would care to go on living in the midst of ceaseless, chaotic, completely unpredictable change.
Hadley Cantril

Change is such a part of our lives, we must either learn to adapt to it or perish. In fact, in order to continue learning we must embrace change, in order to aspire, to progress, to seek perfection and evolve. Change is a natural part of our existence. Change impacts the lives of people and, as such, affects their emotions and insecurities. To implement change requires an appeal to the perceptions of people in terms of how it will improve their livelihood. If the change is misunderstood or if it is perceived as something having an adverse effect on the status quo, it will be steadfastly resisted. However, if a change is pitched properly, not only will people welcome it, they will help implement it for you. People tend to reject change typically for the following reasons:

1. Fear of failure
Resistance to change may be rooted in fear. During periods of change, some people may feel the need to cling to the past because it was a more secure, predictable time. If what they did in the past worked well for them, they may resist changing their behaviour out of fear that they will not achieve as much in the future.

2. Creatures of habit
Doing things in the same routine, predictable manner is comfortable. Asking people to change the way they operate or think is asking 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. In some cases, people may ignore or deny the change simply because it requires them to experience something beyond their normal method of operation.

3. No obvious need
Some people may see a change only from the perspective of the impact it has on them and their particular jobs. Not seeing the big picture, they may fail to recognise the positive impact of the change on the organisation as a whole. Thus they may find the change disruptive and totally unnecessary. Their attitude may be, "If things have been working well all this time, why do we need to change?" or, in other words, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

4. Loss of control
Familiar routines help people develop a sense of control over their work environment. They feel they know what works and what doesn't, and this makes them confident about their contribution to the organisation. Being asked to change the way they operate may make people feel powerless and confused.

5. Concern about support system
People operating within predictable routines know their support system will back them up during challenging times. Changing the organisational structures may shake their confidence in their support system. They may worry about working for a new supervisor, with new people or on unfamiliar projects because they fear that if they try and fail, there will be no one there to support them.

6. Closed mind
Some people seem to have the attitude, "Please don't confuse me with any facts or supporting documentation about this change--I've already made up my mind!" People with this attitude approach the change process with their minds firmly made up, muttering, "No way!" during discussions and explanations of the future.

7. Unwillingness to learn
Some people, hesitant to try new routines, express an unwillingness to learn anything new. They may say, "I already know all that I need to know." Like resistant people who have already made up their minds that the change won't be productive, people reluctant to learn something new impede the organisation's growth and adaptation to change. They also hinder their own personal growth and development.

8. Fear that the new way may not be better
If things have been going well, some people may resist change because they fear that the change will not result in improvement. Focusing only on their part of the operation, they fail to realise that change is needed in order for the organisation to stay competitive. They may resist forward movement because they are satisfied with the way things are going. Their current status is quite sufficient, and they wish to maintain business as usual.

9. Fear of the unknown
People may resist change simply because it is something unfamiliar. Not knowing much about the specifics of the change, they may imagine a worst case scenario, which can be very scary. They let fear of the unknown become their rationale for not giving the change a chance. These people may acknowledge that a problem exists and agree that a change might improve it. However, they worry that the proposed change might actually make things worse! Their fear causes them to place roadblocks in the movement toward change.

5. Fear of personal impact
Viewing change from a personal standpoint, some people 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?


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