Change Management. Why Do People Resist Innovation?

Innovation Technologies

Denying the new is an inevitable phenomenon. Any variation in traditional methods causes questions for all whom it concerns. To cope with this problem, the manager must comprehend why workers do not want change.

People deny the new for three main reasons:

  1. Uncertainty. A person can react to changes more simply because he or she does not know what their consequences will be. When people suspect a threat to their security, they react consciously or unconsciously, expressing their negative attitude toward change, or exhibiting dysfunctional demeanor during the stage of realizing of the changes;
  2. A sense of loss. Employees may believe that innovation will reduce their access to information, authority in decision-making, autonomy, formal or informal power and the attractiveness of the work entrusted to them;
  3. Belief that variation will not bring anything good. People may think that the planned changes will not solve the problems, but will only multiply their number. For example, the leader may consider that the proposed information management system will be too complicated for users or that it will produce the incorrect type of information.

The Main Reasons

There is the specific classification of reasons for resistance to change:

  • Economic – related to the potential possibility of loss of income or its sources. Specifically, it can include fear of the prospect of unemployment, reduction of the working day, intensification of labor, deprivation of benefits and privileges. Economic waste can also be caused by the high costs of time and money, in connection with the carrying out of the transformations themselves;
  • Organizational. It is the disinclination to change the existing system of relations, to violate the existing alignment of forces, fear for the future career, the fate of the informal organization, etc.;
  • Personality. These reasons are associated mainly with the psychological characteristics of people. Here we can talk about the force of habit, inertia, fear of a new. Most people do not like when the usual course of events is disrupted. In the process of change, there is inevitably a threat of office, personal power, status, position in the firm, respect in the eyes of direction and colleagues.
    Finally, personal resistance can be based on awareness of one’s own incompetence, disbelief in one’s own strength, the ability to master new activities, unwillingness to overcome difficulties, take on additional responsibilities, independently think and work;
  • Social reasons for resistance to change are characteristic not only for individual members of the enterprise and their groups, but the entire collective as a whole. Here you can name such factors as the lack of conviction in people's need, largely due to lack of awareness of their goals, methods, expected benefits and possible losses.

Resistance strengthening is facilitated by such conditions as the stability of commercial results, allowing to "rest on laurels" for a long time, stiffness, routine, inadequate qualifications and high staff turnover, an unhealthy inner atmosphere, dominance of authoritarian methods of leadership.

Opposition Varieties

Organizational resistance has three varieties:

  1. Resistance to delegation of authority. Changes inevitably modify the balance of political forces, lead to a redistribution of powers, and sometimes to a change in the part of the management team. Managers who lose their authority try to make every effort, use their authority and influence in order to prevent such a redistribution;
  2. Complex inertia. The firm is a complex social organism, where all processes are interrelated. Changes in one element lead to changes in the entire system. The larger the firm, the more difficult it is to start the transformation process. Old norms, traditions, rules continue to affect the work for a long time due to the inertia of the corporate culture of the enterprise;
  3. Resistance to changes that are imposed by external consultants. Very often external advice and recommendations may not be heard for a number of reasons: because of fear of loss of authority, as described above; because of the habit of being guided by old proven patterns, confidence in their own infallibility.

Person as the Center of Conflict

One can claim that the greatest resistance to change is provided by middle managers in most enterprises. This is due to the fact that in the case of various kinds of reorganizations, they are at risk of losing significantly more than those who are at the lower levels of the hierarchical ladder.

Any, even the most unimportant modifications can cause people's discontent and the wish to oppose them. Understanding the need for changes, a person will regret the former conditions, which may be not the best ones.

Resistance to changes of employees has its own logic, which cannot be overcome by some orders from the leadership. Therefore, the main factor is the interests of people with whom it is necessary to find a compromise.

Human is sensitive to the controllability of the environment. People feel most competent and confident when their looking-for for control, stability and predictability of the situation come true. If there are changes that do not involve increasing wages or working conditions modification, maintaining the status quo is the main factor for employees. When changes occur, the balance is violated and expectations are not justified.

Methods of Resistance Control

There are modes for managing the resistance of the organization's personnel:

  • The compulsory approach to overcome resistance even under the condition of optimal control costs the company quite expensive: the usual connections are broken in a short time, conflicts arise. However, this is the only correct solution in conditions of limited time;
  • The adaptive method minimizes the resistance within the company, but the changes are rather slow. It allows to make the changes in conditions when the power of reformers is limited;
  • Crisis management is used only in case of emergency. In a crisis situation, behavioral resistance to change is usually replaced by support for reforms, but in this situation, the likelihood of making wrong decisions increases since the leader operates under conditions of shortage of time. The firm faces a rapid resurgence of resistance after emerging from the crisis;
  • The method of controlled opposition is an average variant that is acceptable in conditions of moderate urgency, but brings a positive effect for a certain time interval. If the need for transformations increases, the method becomes compulsory, and vice versa, when management has a time reserve, it acquires the features of an adaptive one. When using this method, the planning and realization of projects are carried out in parallel.

The choice of a rational way to implement changes depends more on a situation.

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