How To Lead Change and Manage Resistance  

How To Lead Change and Manage Resistance

Change resistance is natural and expected, but what if we could eliminate at least half of the resistance encountered during a change initiative? The question is not whether we will face resistance to change. We’ll do it. Instead, we must understand how we will support impacted individuals and groups through the change process and manage resistance in order to mitigate the effects. 

Why Does Resistance Occur? 

Anxiety and fear are caused by change. The current state has tremendous holding power, and the uncertainty of success and the fear of the unknown can stymie and create resistance to change. These physical and emotional reactions are strong enough to create resistance to change on their own. But resistance is more than just our emotional reaction. These physical and emotional reactions are strong enough to create resistance to change on their own. But resistance is more than just our emotional reaction. From a change management standpoint, we must investigate the following factors that influence an employee’s resistance to change: 

  • The influence on their work 
  • People’s credibility in communicating the change 
  • Personal factors such as finances, age, health, mobility, and family status are all considered. 
  • The alignment of the change with their value system 
  • The organization’s track record in dealing with change 

Even when affected individuals and groups can align the change with their self-interests and belief systems, the uncertainty of success and fear of the unknown continue to be significant barriers to change. 

Employee resistance to change is one of the most perplexing and obstinate issues that business executives face. Such resistance can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including persistent output reductions, an increase in the number of “quits” and requests for transfer, chronic quarrels, sullen hostility, wildcat or slowdown strikes, and, of course, the expression of a plethora of illogical reasons why the change will not work. Even the most minor manifestations of this resistance can be problematic. 

What Does Change Resistance Look Like? 

Change, like resistance, is an individual phenomenon. Because of factors such as personal history, current events in their lives, and other current changes at work, the root cause of one person’s resistance may differ from that of another. Resistance to change, regardless of its source or appearance, has a negative impact on initiatives and the organization. 

Read More: How To Manage Stress and Anxiety In Today’s Fast Paced World  – About Pakistan

The categories of resistance are as follows: 


Fear, loss, sadness, anger, anxiety, frustration, depression, self-centeredness 


Disengagement manifests itself as silence, ignoring communications, indifference, apathy, and low morale. 

Work impact: 

Workplace consequences include decreased productivity/efficiency, noncompliance, absenteeism, and mistakes. 

Acting out: 

Conflict, arguments, sabotage; domineering, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behaviour 


Rumors/gossip, miscommunication, complaining, focusing on problems, and celebrating failure are all examples of negativity. 


Avoidance entails ignoring the change, reverting to old habits, devising workarounds, and abdicating responsibilities 

Building Barriers: 

Excuses, counter-approaches, recruiting dissenters, secrecy, and trust breakdown 


Controlling entails asking numerous questions, influencing outcomes, defending current state, and utilizing status. 

When executives encounter resistance to change, they frequently “explain” it by quoting the cliche that “people resist change,” never looking further. 

Nonetheless, changes in industry are unavoidable. This is especially true for the all-important “little” changes that occur on a regular basis—changes in work methods, routine office procedures, the location of a machine or a desk, personnel assignments and job titles. 

None of these changes make headlines, but they account for a large portion of our productivity increase. They are not the spectacular once-in-a-lifetime technological revolutions that result in mass layoffs or the obsolescence of traditional skills, but they are critical to the advancement of business. 

Is it then inevitable that business management will always be saddled with the onerous task of “forcing” change down the throats of resistant people? No, is the right response. People do not resist technical change in general, and that most of the resistance that does occur is unnecessary.  

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Here are some of the ways to manage resistance to change: 

  1. Getting the people involved to “participate” in making the change is an increasingly popular solution for dealing with resistance to change. However, “participation” as a device is not a good way for management to think about the problem in practise. In fact, it may cause problems. 
  1. Understanding the true nature of resistance is the key to solving the problem. Actually, what employees usually resist is not technical change, but social change—the shift in their human relationships that usually comes with technical change. 
  1.  Typically, resistance is caused by certain blind spots and attitudes that staff specialists have as a result of their preoccupation with the technical aspects of new ideas. 
  1. Management can take concrete steps to address these employee attitudes constructively. The steps include emphasising new performance standards for staff specialists and encouraging them to think in new ways, as well as leveraging the fact that signs of resistance can serve as a practical warning signal in directing and timing technological changes. 
  1. Top executives can also improve the effectiveness of their own efforts at staff and operating group meetings where change is being discussed. They can accomplish this by shifting their focus away from the facts of schedules, technical details, work assignments, and so on, and toward what the discussion of these items indicates in terms of developing resistance and receptivity to change. 
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