The Three Types of People Who Resist Change and What to Do About It
Alice Meredith
Change Management The Three Types of People Who Resist Change and What to Do About It

If you’re a manager, then you know that change is a constant in the workplace. And with every change initiative comes some level of conflict. But did you know that there are ways to identify those who are most likely to resist change? By doing so, you can be better prepared to navigate the conflict that comes with every change initiative. Here’s how.

There are three primary types of change resistors: those who fear the unknown, those who have been burned by a change in the past, and those who simply don’t like change. Each type presents its own challenges, but if you can identify which type(s) of change-resistor(s) you’re dealing with, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the conflict that comes with every change initiative.



Fear of the Unknown

Some people resist change because they fear the unknown. They’re comfortable with the status quo and don’t see any reason to rock the boat. To them, change is always disruptive and rarely leads to anything good. If you’re dealing with this type of change-resistor, it’s important to emphasize that the proposed changes are not as drastic as they may seem. Reassure them that the changes will not be implemented overnight and that there will be a period of adjustment. Most importantly, give them a chance to voice their concerns and be open to making tweaks to the plan based on their feedback.



Burned by Change in the Past

Other people resist change because they’ve been burned by it in the past. Maybe they were part of a previous initiative that didn’t go well, or they watched others around them struggle through a difficult transition. If this is the case, then it’s important to stress that things will be different this time around. Share what lessons were learned from previous initiatives and how those lessons will be applied to this one. Also, make sure that you involve these individuals in the planning process so they feel like they have some skin in the game.



Simply Don’t Like Change

Finally, some people resist change only because they don’t like it—plain and simple. They’re comfortable with things as they are and don’t see any need for improvement. If this is your situation, then it’s important to stress that even though things may be working well now, there’s always room for improvement. Help them see how the proposed changes will benefit both them and the organization as a whole. And again, involve them in the planning process so they feel like their input is valued and appreciated.

Identifying those who are most likely to resist change—and understanding why they resist—is key to being able to navigate conflict when implementing any sort of change initiative in your organization. By taking the time to understand where your team members are coming from, you can develop a plan that will help ease their fears and concerns and make them more open to embracing new ideas and ways of doing things.

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