It’s not possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change. But that there will be resistance to change is a sure and safe bet. Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a positive and proactive step from your side as the driver of change. Here are some common pitfalls when it comes to leading change.


1. Misunderstanding the need for change or when the reason for the change is unclear

If individuals do not understand the need for change you can expect resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works well…and has done for twenty years! A lot of times, leaders introduce new initiatives, ideas and instructions that are not backed by purpose. Your team members have to know why this new initiative exists. Not because they have a right to know but because for people, having a sense of purpose inspires action.


2. Low trust  

When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance. Trust involves faith in the intentions and behavior of others. Mutual mistrust will doom an otherwise well-conceived change initiative to failure. If you are trying to implement your change effort in an environment where your people mistrust you and/or your initiative, or distrust one another, you’ll have limited success. You’ll need to spend some time establishing trust if you want better results from your change effort.


3. WIIFM (What’s in it for me?)

The benefits and rewards for making the change must be seen as adequate for the trouble involved. Organisational employees will resist change when they do not see anything in it for them in terms of rewards. Without ‘WIIFM’ or a reward, there is no motivation to support the change over the long run. This often means that organisational reward systems must be altered to support the change that management wants to implement. The reward does not have to always be major or costly.


dorrian aiken leadership coach


4. They have not bought into the person initiating the change.

People buy into the leader then the vision. In that order. If you don’t have a good relationship with your team and have not connected with then it will be hard for your team to buy into your idea, vision or new programme and run with it. If your followers don’t know, like and trust you like that (so to speak), you may not get much out of them.


5. They have not been given enough time to change.

You tell your team this is the new way of doing things or this is what we need to do and you give them only a few weeks to get on board or do what needs to be done. You have not taken time to re-prioritise their assignments (they probably already have a heavy workload), and you have not taken into consideration how long it will take to do the things necessary for your new initiative to be implemented. Sometimes leaders forget that they are not the ones who will be implementing the change and thus miscalculate the amount of time or other resources that will be required. This leads to resistance and mistrust.


6. They do not have the tools needed to carry out the change.

New tools, resources, procedures and systems are usually required to do new things. Your people may be resistant because they do not even have anything to work with. Creating new procedures, researching and providing the resources needed will add to the time it will take to implement the change.



7. Poor communication

Lack of certainty breeds insecurity. When people are aware that big changes are afoot – downsizing, retrenchments, mergers – but they do not know how each of them personally will be affected, in the absence of clear communications, rumour mills turn. Demotivation increases as trust decreases. Give as much information as possible, as often as possible – and acknowledge the impact that pending change may have.


8. Lack of tact or poor timing.

Good timing is crucial when it comes to change, and if you try to implement major changes all at once or too quickly, your employees may be more likely to resist. Introduce change in measured doses when possible, to give your team a chance to acclimatise. Not only does this ensure the least amount of interruption to your business, but also makes for happier, and thereby more productive employees. Undue resistance can occur because changes are introduced in an insensitive manner or at an awkward time.In other words, people may agree with the change that you want to implement but they may not agree with how you are going about making the change.