Finding Value in Stakeholder Resistance

At the mere mention of phrases like organizational ‘change’, ‘improvement’ or ‘redesign’ stakeholders immediately begin conjuring up reasons why the change won’t work, can’t work. The prospect of undergoing significant change presents itself like an unknown abyss, leaving stakeholders wondering “how”, “when”, and “where” the company, and most importantly, they will be affected.

Although some stakeholders immediately recognize the need for change, even the most progressive stakeholders may fear and resist change. It is a completely natural instinct to avoid jumping from a cliff blindly; not knowing what is on the other side. The key to helping your stakeholders make the jump is to understand and directly address the source of their trepidation and develop a clear plan forward.

Points of Stakeholder Resistance

Resistance to change is often misunderstood as being directly tied to the proposed change itself. However, there are a number of variables impacting stakeholders, from a standpoint of both personal transition as well as business transformation. These variables can influence their willingness, ability and commitment to change. Below are some of the top reasons that stakeholders might resist change (in no particular order).

 The top 10 reasons stakeholders might resist change:

So, where’s the value?

Key stakeholders have a valuable perspective on your organization and may be privy to certain characteristics of the business that leadership has overlooked or underestimated. Stakeholders also have certain levels of power and influence over their peers. Understanding and addressing stakeholders’ key points of resistance will improve the likelihood of program success in two major ways: 1) Through improved understanding of the business, including additional nuances, risks and opportunities 2) Through the stakeholders’ ability to influence buy-in and commitment across the organization.

 How can you determine the key sources of stakeholder resistance? The first step is collecting perspectives and view points in a ‘safe’ environment such as focus groups, one-on-one interviews and/or anonymous assessments/surveys. A well-structured change readiness assessment will help leaders understand the ‘mood’ of stakeholders prior to and during an organizational change program. We use a proven and highly regarded change readiness assessment that evaluates the key factors below:

It’s your turn

 What tools do you use to determine your stakeholders’ readiness to change? How do you address their key points of resistance?

 Teneka Polite, Change Management Consultant

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  • PJW  On July 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    My approach first of all is, *not join the game*. If you join the game you play by the rules set. If you join the game you will have to confine yourself to the boundaries of the playing field.
    Second to that, their key points are *their* key points. I do not necessarily have to agree. I am standing outside the playing field, looking in. I therefore see different thing, but also may see things differently.
    Thirdly, very early in my career I noticed that what people state as ‘facts’ are more often than not *opinions*. And more often than not those opinions are based on false assumptions.

    So based on this my attitude is to interpret their ‘key points of resistance’ as camouflage for something different, usually something opposed to or underlying the stated key point

  • Frank  On February 24, 2016 at 6:54 am

    Hi Teneka Polite, your tables described above are very usefull and I would like to ask you if you havea writer or booklet behind it so I can get some background information of that beautifull overview? I work with the Kotter methodology and implementation methodology from Galbraith. Resistance framework build in the theory of Belbin or Leary more based on karacteristics of people and their personal social/comms mechanism. hope to hear from you. Regards Frank

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