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Ten Most Common Reasons for Resistance to Change

Adapted from Rosabeth Kanter Moss

Reasons for Resistance Helpful Responses to Employees

1) Loss of control – Change done by us is 1) Provide as many helpful choices and

exciting. Change done to us is threatening. opportunities as possible.

2) Excess uncertainty – Change feels 2) A. Share information, provide step-by-step

dangerous when there is not enough scenarios of how the change will manifest
information about what is or will be B. Leader must demonstrate faith in the
happening. benefit of change.

3) Surprises – Without time to assimilate 3) Provide advance notice and sufficient time
and absorb, news of change is threatening. for workers to adjust their thinking.

4) The “difference” effect – Change requires 4) A. Leave in as many familiar rituals and
questioning of familiar routines and habits, habits as possible.
while adjusting to new people, norms, B. Frame change within the continuity of
environment. the organization’s purpose rather than as a
radical departure from “normal” procedure
or standards.

5) Loss of face – Shame for and blaming of 5) Appreciate previous decisions as right or
the former way of doing things; this can reasonable within the time and context
cause team divisiveness. that they were made.

6) Concerns about future competence – 6) A. Provide sufficient education and training

“Will I be able to meet new expectations?” with opportunities to practice new skills.
Personal doubt, risk of appearing/feeling B. Provide positive reinforcement of effort
foolish. and performance.

7) Ripple effects – Disruptions to non-work 7) Provide adequate notice. Accommodate

plans/routines such as family care. with flexibility of schedule and
implementation whenever possible.

8) More work – Change requires more energy, 8) Provide support and compensation for extra
time, and preoccupation. Going “above and work. Recognize effort and perseverance in
beyond” is often required during intense challenging times.
periods of change.

9) Past resentments – Simmering resentments 9) Hear out lingering resentments; assist in

are jarred loose by change. Aggrieved repairing rifts. Sometimes going forward can
workers may not go along with what mean first going back. Clear out the
management wants. cobwebs of the past.

10) Sometimes the threat is real – 10) Share information openly and before
Sometimes the rumor mill is right: jobs, etc., rumors take hold. Even bad news is better
are at risk; management does have an than living in uncertainty and dread.
unspoken agenda.