Why do people resist change?
I think the answer to this is really simple... People resist change because of a combination of up to three reasons:
- They don’t like their boss(es) - if people don't like those who are asking them to change, then despite the logical value of the change, people will resist out of retribution. This is all about the relationships
- They don’t like the change itself. This can relate to two separate, but important aspects - the process by which the change was introduced or implemented (ie, the way in which it was done) and/or the content of what is proposed (ie, the what). For example, people will resist change if they feel they weren't consulted. They'll also resist if they feel the proposed change doesn't result in sufficiently important benefits (either to them or the organisation)
- They don’t like the impact it will have on them. For example, change may mean extra work in a context where people are already very busy, or it might expose people's weaknesses within the 'new' environment. This is all about the ‘me’
I don't agree. I don't believe people resist change at all. I do believe that systems resist change - this is a typical pattern of complex systems, as a result of their auto-poietic behavior.
People have concerns, purposes and circumstances. If we acknowledge them, they will cooperate. If we neglect them, they will not cooperate.
But most people are not against change. Make a simple experiment with any group of people in an organization: Draw a matrix on the floor. One axis is about change in personal life (from "I seek for change in my life constantly" to "I love stability"), and the other axis is about change at work (from "I adapt easily when I am asked to be changed" to "I don't like to be changed"). Ask people to find their space on the grid. You will find that most people will be in the quadrant that says "I seek for change and I adapt easily", while they would say that their staff and bosses are in other quadrants. Isn't that a paradox?