Recognizing Resistance to Change

May 23, 2021 2 min read
Recognizing Resistance to Change

In this post, the Lazy Leader introduces the four main forms of resistance to change and offer tips for managing those who resist your change efforts. But first we take a brief look at stakeholder management.

Every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when they are trying to create something good… The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be. – Donald Miller

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholders come in different sizes! Some are influential, some disinterested and others vocal. Some will come along on the journey, whilst others will come along kicking and screaming.

But forget all this and consider just two traits in your stakeholders:

  • Are they supportive?
  • What power do they wield?
The Stakeholder Influence Map

Now do this quick exercise. List all the stakeholders you can think of and rank them according to their power—positional power, expertise, connections, knowledge—and their willingness to support you.

Finally, add them to your stakeholder influence map.

Resistance to Change

When you understand your stakeholders, you can start to do one of two things: either convince those with most power to support you or work to neutralize those who resist what you are trying to change.

Learning to recognize the types of resistance to change is the first step toward clarifying your communication strategy and dealing with resistance to change.

I have a resistance to change in things that I feel comfortable with and that I’m used to. – Dennis Quaid

To mitigate the effects of those who resist change, you first need to recognize the four main forms of resistance to change

  1. Cognitive: based on their experience and understanding, people believe that the original diagnosis and action plan for change is wrong.
  2. Ideological: people believe the proposed change breaks the fundamental values that give the organization its identity.
  3. Psychological: people are unwilling to try new things because they may be less successful than the earlier ones. They also see the cost of changing greater than the benefits and probably have a low-level of tolerance for uncertainty.
  4. Power-Driven: people perceive that the proposed change will lead to a loss of power, autonomy, and self-control. That is, they fear reduced status and autonomy.

Recognizing Resistance to Change


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