Manage Resistance to Change

During change there will be people who are hesitant or uncertain about what is happening. This normal, and should be expected. Don't think of it as a bad thing that needs to be "stamped out". When you see resistance, treat it as data - data that is telling you there is a gap in your change plan that needs to be addressed.

Resistance occurs when impacted people don't support the change (buy-into it) and they feel threatened by it, or deem it unnecessary.  This can happen for a number of reasons and can look different depending on your organisation (what is appropriate in your business).

Urban Footwear

Common reasons for resistance

Common signs of resistance


Active disruption and arguing

  • Interrupting meetings and forums with protests about the change. "we shouldn't be doing this..." "I don't agree with..." "this isn't how we do things here..."


Active creation of factions

  • Seeking out people to be on "their side"

  • Creating a sense of "us" versus "them"


Active complaints

  • Formally lodging their disagreement with leaders in the business in an attempt to halt the change, or disrupt its current path


Passive "status quo"

  • Going along with the change in forums, but back at their desk, they continue using the old processes and forms - and encourage others to do so also


Passive avoidance

  • Non-attendance of meetings, training or forums in an attempt to avoid the change (sometimes through taking sick days or booking another meeting at the same time) - and actively not delivering or participating in work that needs their input


Passive ridiculing

  • Telling jokes or sarcastic remarks about the change or the people leading it, in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy and support

  • Generating (and spreading) rumours and gossip in an attempt to disrupt or halt the change


Passive credibility sabotage

  • Asking unnecessary questions, demands or raising insignificant issues in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the people making the change ("to show they don't know as much as us"), rather than raising things to help build a better change


Impacted people haven't been engaged and asked for input - generating a feeling of disrespect


People feel dissatisfied with how the change has been designed or rolled out


The track record isn't great in the business, with a string of failed changes leading up to this one - creating a level of cynicism that this change will work (and thus impacted people should invest their time and energy into it).


There is a level of fatigue in the business from too much change, or workloads that are too heavy.


The change is significantly different to what currently happens in the business (there is conflict with the current organisational culture), and there hasn't been the investment of time and effort to shift or transition across (it feels sudden, abrupt and different)


People don't believe in the "stated" reasons for the change, and believe hidden agendas or politics are the real drivers (there is a sense of inauthenticity and lack of transparency).


Its not clear what is expected of people - time and effort hasn't been invested in "what good looks like" so that impacted people are really clear on what they need to do differently and how to continue to do a great job and be successful in their role.

Want to learn how to manage and deal with resistance

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Acknowledgement of country


Adaptive Change Mindset Pty Ltd acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and acknowledges and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.

Dr Debra Panipucci

Mo +61 402 814 902


Leisa Hart

Mo +61 410 314 641


Melbourne | Australia

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