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