“Resist! Prove that you exist.”

Michel Berger may never have imagined that these words would become a leitmotif for some people, both in their private and professional lives. They’re known as those who resist change.

In this article, we’ll try to understand the different employee profiles of those who resist change, the intrinsic reasons for this resistance (some of which may be justified), and, finally, how to support these employees through change.

The Four Main Employee Profiles That Are Resistant to Change

First of all, let’s take a look at the different profiles of those who resist change in the professional world:

1. Employees Who Remain Inert

These employees pretend to fully accept change when, in fact, this is not the case. Above all, they aren’t going to change their habits. They will hide behind a certain caution and/or the need for further advice to put off the project’s acceptance deadline as long as possible.

An example of this is employees who pretend that they want to make progress on their goals but can’t because of others. They are waiting for response or actions from such-and-such a person, or an essential document that never arrives, etc.

2. Employees Who’s Always Arguing

Everything can lead to arguing, making the current situation more efficient and productive than the proposed changes.

For instance, your company has hired an external consultant who, according to the employees, couldn’t possibly understand their way of working and/or their working methods.

3. Employees Who Rebel

These employees resist through action, such as strikes, threats of resignation, and other social actions.

4. Employees Who Often Sabotage

Under the guise of acceptance, these employees will do everything in their power to question or even ridicule the importance of a project to make it fail outright.

For instance, false rumors about the project team’s incompetence and excessive zeal are aimed at proving the fragility of the approach and/or the project itself.

Now that we know the different employee profiles of those who resist change, we need to understand what makes them resistant to change.

10 Reasons Employees Are Resistance to Change

Some of these reasons are generic and apply equally to personal and professional life. Some are, or may also be, legitimate.

1. Misunderstanding the Meaning of Change

If employees don’t understand the reasons for change, you can expect resistance. All the more so when people consider the current company workflow efficient for many years!

2. Fear of the Unknown

This is the most common reason for employees resisting change. To move your teams forward and change their habits, it’s best to make them feel that what’s dangerous is to change nothing.

3. It’s Just a Temporary Suggestion

When teams see the desire to transform is only a temporary suggestion, it’s at this point that resistance is likely to emerge.

4. High Saturation

Sometimes, employees can get fed up with constant change, and resign themselves from it. If they agree to comply with your demands, this doesn’t mean they’re motivated. Don’t mistake compliance for acceptance, and don’t mistake acceptance for commitment.

5. Don’t Get or Asked for the Buy-In

People resist change less when they participate in it. Employees like to know and understand what’s going on, especially when their work is affected by the transformation. That’s why it’s essential to involve them, ask for their feedback, conduct surveys, and get their buy-in on the transformation.

6. Poor Communication

It’s better to communicate too much than not enough. Explain to your employees why the company needs the change, the benefits they will get, the process, and other important aspects that concern them.

7. Lack of Reward

When the benefits and rewards of supporting change are not perceived as advantageous as the difficulties caused, you will encounter resistance.

8. Lack of Skills

Any transformation (in the organization, in the tools used, in management, etc.) requires an evolution in skills, and not everyone feels capable of it. Think about setting up a training program to bring all your employees up to speed and also to ensure that everyone “speaks the same language.”

9. Lack of Confidence

Employees don’t always believe in their ability to adapt to change successfully. Others think it’s the company itself that won’t transform.

10. Breaking the Routine

We all like living in our comfort zone. It’s reassuring. Resistance to change is, therefore, a natural response to some form of danger and the unknown.

Now we know some common reasons for employees avoiding change, what can a company do to overcome this resistance? How to ensure the change is successful, such as rolling out a new project type or getting an employee to accept a new position?

Best Practices to Ensure Acceptance of Changes

Educational, Clear, and Regular Communication

When a company undergoes a reorganization or wants to adopt new software, the first thing to do is communicate with the teams. To achieve this, a real communication plan needs to be put in place very early on, highlighting the benefits for employees and/or customers.

This communication must be educational, clear, and conducted regularly.

  • Pedagogical: If these changes involve changes in vocabulary, explain the new terms. If implementation deadlines are short, explain why. Don’t forget that if the project has a profound impact on the way teams work, they need to be reassured.
  • Clear communication: Be clear in what you say. Don’t propose complex material, and be transparent about the project’s progress (e.g., you’ve fallen behind schedule or there’s been a change in scope. Give your employees enough context to understand the situation.
  • Regular communication: You must succeed in creating a “project rendezvous” with your employees. You must succeed in making them want to know more.

Of course, when communicating, you will receive questions, remarks, or objections. It’s important to let employees speak for themselves by practicing active listening. You also need to respond to objections. Your arguments must be prepared with your communication plan. These arguments must not get lost in the complexity. This brings us back to the earlier point about the clarity of your communication.

Consistent Training

We’ve talked a lot in this article about resistance to change in connection with a project or reorganization. We sometimes forget that some employees are reluctant to change jobs. In both cases, training is one of the keys to getting people to accept change.

First and foremost, there are specific training courses for change management. These will be useful for project managers but can also reassure some reluctant participants, particularly the saboteurs and rebels.

Second, technical training. Technical training can be indispensable, depending on the project. However, it should not be too focused on the tools (e.g., software functions and machine technologies). This can make employees even more anxious. By focusing on the new technology (sometimes with a lot of technical details), they indirectly denote the complexity of the new system, and therefore, in the mirror image, the feeling of incompetence among employees.

What’s more, organizing theoretical training will only make your employees fail to grasp the importance of the transition phase or to address some of the concrete consequences of the change. For example, changes in work organization and the impact of technology on the way work is carried out. In such cases, it’s better to focus on training employees with practical cases that they can easily adopt in doing their daily tasks.

Training initiatives should not focus solely on the new tools but on all the knowledge, know-how, and interpersonal skills impacted by the project.

Relying on Committed Employees and Managers

In any project, there are always people who buy-in from the outset. These are employees who quickly understand the benefits of the proposed changes.

However, there will also be people who are resistant to change. Being part of the transformation will make them feel valued. Above all, they’ll understand the ins and outs of the change process and thus become drivers of change.

Managers must also support change within their teams by clearly communicating the change, organizing team discussions, and providing essential training.

Leverage Crosstalent’s Learning and Development solution to communicate and organize practical training of new tools so that your employees can understand and support the changes made in your organization instead of resisting them. Talk to our team to see the tool in action.