Top 5 Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Organizational Change

The experience of doing business in developed countries of the world shows that these days, in order for a traditional company to be successful, it must increasingly acquire the features of a new type of organization.

This transformation is often caused by external factors (external economic situation, social changes, new discoveries, tougher competition, etc.) and internal ones like low efficiency, high production costs, financial challenges, inefficient organizational structure, bottlenecks in production, and so on.

Proceeding from this, it can be presumed that change is unavoidable for any company striving to develop and succeed, no matter if it’s in a new strategy, a potential merger, or the deployment of advanced technologies.

In order to transform into a new type of organization, the company management will need to engage in “change management”. When preparing for the transformation process, it’s important for the management to remember that any changes usually encounter resistance from employees.

The reasons for such “protests” lie on the surface: people are already experienced enough to assume that the organizational change will entail the need to abandon the existing behavior, reassess the criteria and management structure, and this, as a rule, affects their interests.

Such opposition can stymie the progress of the reform project and perhaps cause it to fail. As a result, to ensure effective execution, company leaders must understand how to properly manage change resistance.

In this article, we will discuss some strategies for efficiently managing resistance to organizational change.

Basic Reasons for Resistance to Change in a Company

In general, researchers identify several reasons for resistance to change in companies:

  • Economic reasons include a potential threat of losing wages or sources of income, fear of unemployment, deprivation of benefits and privileges, the high cost of time and money;
  • Organizational reasons are about reluctance to modify the existing system of industrial and personal relations, the established balance of power, fear for the future career, place of work, a reaction to the previous unsuccessful experience;
  • Personal reasons are usually triggered by a reluctance to change habits, inertia, fear of the new, or a threat to the position, personal authority, or status in the organization. This may also affect the loss of respect in the eyes of management and colleagues, awareness of one’s incompetence to perceive the new, lack of confidence in personal abilities and unwillingness to take on new responsibilities and decision-making.

All in all, people resist change because it seems to be a threat to their usual behavioral patterns, status, or material rewards. Employees are almost always suspicious of anything they think will negatively affect their established position, ways of working, or favorable conditions. Thus, they are afraid to change their familiar environment or trust their managers, as well as believe their claims that the new thing is for the good.

Additionally, employees might have good reasons based on past experience and suspect that management has ulterior motives, and the more powerful the propaganda, the louder the solemn assurances of managers, the greater the distrust.

How to Effectively Manage Employee Resistance

At the preliminary stage of preparation for change, it’s necessary to identify the “agents” or “coaches” of such modifications. These may well be deputy CEOs or top managers who have undergone the necessary coaching training or an internal trainer who understands the company’s challenges and knows how to fix them.

Change agents are the ones who clearly define goals and formulate the right objectives; they assemble a special team by recruiting representatives of key interest groups.

Gathered together, team members, together with these agents, define the results to be achieved and break down the transformation process into stages, indicating what result should be achieved at the end of each stage.

Also, during the preparation stage, members of the team analyze the behavior of employees in it, determining their attitude towards the change and identifying in advance the reasons for possible resistance. For this purpose, conversations, interviews, questionnaires, and other forms of information collection are used. With their help, you can find out what type of reaction will be observed in the organization, identify employees who will either support or resist the modification and, in each case, the reasons for such behavior.

Types of Resistance to Change and Ways of Overcoming

Generally, there are two types of resistance to change:

  • Explicit resistance, which manifests itself as refusal to use new systems and procedures, avoidance of additional training, non-attendance of meetings to discuss a project, or delaying the execution of assignments;
  • Hidden resistance is usually known as the diversion of resources, setting limits on outgoing information and its deliberate dispersal.

After identifying the causes of resistance to change in your company, you need to choose the best methods to overcome it.

5 Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Note that there’s no universal method to fight resistance; each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, very often, a combination of the following methods is used:

Establish Communication

Communications are one of the most important aspects in dealing with resistance. Employees benefit from effective interaction since it contributes to building trust and reduces worries and concerns. As a result, an open and transparent plan that explains the reasons for the change, the advantages it will bring, and how it will be executed is critical. Employees must be involved in the process by soliciting input, resolving issues, and including them in decision-making.

Educate and Train Employees

As previously said, resistance to change is frequently caused by fear and uncertainty regarding the new processes, procedures, and technology that are to be applied. As a result, it’s critical to educate and teach personnel about the transformations that will be implemented. This will assist in soothing any employee anxieties and provide them with the information and skills they need to properly adjust to upcoming changes.

Address Concerns and Feedback

It is critical to actively listen to and resolve employee complaints and comments in a timely and efficient manner. This will assist in fostering trust and demonstrate that the ideas and concerns of your employees are respected and appreciated. It’s critical to include staff members in the decision-making process and get their feedback on how the change may be executed efficiently.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Establishing a feeling of urgency might assist in motivating people to accept change. This may be accomplished by emphasizing the dangers of not altering something, such as loss of market share or lower profitability, as well as expressing the advantages, including higher efficiency, improved quality, or enhanced customer experience. It’s critical to express a clear and compelling vision for the endeavor to assist employees in grasping the significance of the change and the urgency with which it must be implemented.

Lead by Example

Leadership is essential in dealing with opposition to change. Leaders should set a good example and demonstrate the attitude they expect from their staff. Managers and change agents must effectively communicate, be open, and actively seek employee input, as well as be prepared to make difficult decisions and accept responsibility for the initiative’s success or failure.

Bonus Tips

Build a Coalition of Supporters

Assembling an alliance of supporters can aid in overcoming resistance to change. Identifying key influencers who are supportive of the change project and utilizing their authority to promote the change among workers is part of the procedure. This may be accomplished by incorporating these influencers in decision-making, communicating effectively with them, and involving them in the change’s implementation.

Provide Incentives

Offering rewards may be a powerful method to encourage staff to embrace change. Financial incentives, such as rewards or stock options, or non-financial, such as acknowledgment, promotion, or more authority. Rewards should be linked to particular goals and explicitly conveyed to employees.

Celebrate Successes

It is critical to recognize and celebrate wins along the way in order to perpetuate the beneficial effect of the transformation program. This may be accomplished by recognizing and rewarding personnel who have helped the change program succeed. Celebrating victories may also assist in generating momentum and urge staff to support the change endeavor in the future.

Anticipate and Address Resistance

It is critical to anticipate and resolve change resistance before it becomes a major issue. This can be accomplished by recognizing possible sources of resistance and devising counter-strategies. It is critical to include relevant parties in this process and to explain the possible implications of the alteration clearly and effectively.

Be Flexible

Lastly, in dealing with opposition to change, it is critical to remain adaptive and flexible. Change efforts may be complicated and unexpected, so being able to adapt to changing conditions and alter the change initiative as required is critical. This may need altering deadlines, objectives, or the execution strategy.


Well-thought-out attitudes toward change will allow:

  • Detect and articulate the existence of problems;
  • Ensure the freedom of expression of discussion participants;
  • Provide support for out-of-the-box solutions and innovation.

It’s also very important to timely support those who are afraid of the potential challenges of adapting to the new environment. If necessary, negotiate with them or even sign agreements with those most vulnerable to change, which will also smooth out the heat of resistance.

In general, summarizing the proposed methods of resistance management, it can be noted that they are all based on “three pillars,” namely employee awareness, the study of their motivation, and their involvement in the process of change. At the same time, for some workers, at certain stages, it’s also possible to use directive methods.

Organizations can properly manage opposition to transformation and achieve their desired outcomes by applying successful tactics such as communication, training, and coaching programs, addressing concerns and feedback, generating a sense of urgency, setting an example, establishing a coalition of supporters, offering incentives, celebrating successes, anticipating and addressing resistance, and being flexible.

Effective change management necessitates a deliberate, strategic approach that considers the needs/concerns of workers and other interested parties and involves them in the change process. Organizations may assure the success of their change projects and the achievement of their desired outcomes by using these techniques.