“Life is change. If you aren't growing and evolving, you're standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead.” -Louise Penny
Have you ever found yourself asking one of the following questions at work?
Why are you CHANGING my work space?
Why are you CHANGING who I report to?
Why are you CHANGING that process?
Everyone responds differently to change. For some, change is fun and exciting. For others, change feels uncomfortable, and can often result in resistance.
This resistance can result in behavior that is fairly subtle, such as avoidance or passive aggressive behavior and all the way to outright defiance, hostility, and sabotage. Of course everyone has a right to feel how they feel about change.
However, how you respond and react to change sends a message to your boss or even your employees—it can make the difference in the evolution of your career. The first step to managing your behavior toward change is to understand what causes you to be resistant to change.
5 Main Reasons People Resist Change
Career coach, business consultant/organizational trainer and former Fortune 500 executive Lisa Quest identifies the key reasons why people are resistant to change. Which of the following resonates with you?
● Fear of the unknown/surprise: This type of resistance occurs mainly when change is implemented without warning the affected stakeholders before the change occurs. When change (especially what is perceived as negative change) is pushed onto people without giving them adequate warning and without help to understand what the change will include and how their work will be affected, it can cause people to push back against the change due to their fear of the unknown.
● Mistrust: If the individuals in a department highly respect their manager because the manager has built up trust over a period of time, the team will be more accepting of any changes. If the manager is new and has not yet earned the trust of their employees, then mistrust can manifest itself into resistance to change.
● Loss of job security/control: This type of resistance often occurs when companies announce they will be restructuring or downsizing. This causes fear among employees that they will lose their jobs or be moved into other positions without their input.
● Bad timing: As the old saying goes, “Timing is everything”. Heaping too much change on employees over a short period of time can cause resistance. If change is not implemented at the right time or with the right level of tact or empathy, it usually won’t work.
● An individual’s predisposition toward change: Differences exist in people’s overall tolerance for change. Some people enjoy change because it provides them with an opportunity to learn new things and grow personally and professionally. Others abhor change because they prefer a set routine—these are usually the people who become suspicious of change and are more likely to resist.
Change Your Attitude To Get More of What You Want
When you accept change, let go and free yourself from fear of the unknown, you will begin to see your life as an exciting adventure. ~Author Unknown
Regardless of how resistant to change you typically may be, the reality is your resistance is holding you back from getting more of what you want at work. The raise. The promotion. You have the power to control how you react and respond to change. I have personally found the following three steps helpful as I’ve navigated change within my career:
● Identify and acknowledge the “symptoms” associated with avoiding change.
● Understand and accept that how you emotionally and physically react to the change is a natural human response.
● Be bold and push past the urge to resist and identify the potential stumbling block(s). Understand your “why” that’s making you uncomfortable.
Creating an actual process to help you navigate through your feelings gives you the confidence to be in control of managing change.
Change is inevitable. It’s a natural evolution in life. Resisting change and maintaining your safe status quo means that you risk reaching and experiencing all of the opportunities that will help you grow. Of course, there are times when the change misaligns with your ethics, values or even simply what you want in a career: then by all means take the initiative to make a change to a new career opportunity. Either way, it’s pretty clear that if you don’t learn how to navigate change, your chances for career advancement or job happiness are probably pretty slim.
About Our Author
As founder of Marketing Essentials, Patty’s continual quest and drive for helping businesses grow is her passion. With over 30 years of strategic business management and leadership experience, she is known as a catalyst and understands the challenges CEO’s and Marketing Directors face in executing inbound digital marketing & sales strategies that yield results. No surprise you will find her feeding her hunger for lifelong learning with a good book and latte!
Patty Cisco, MBA, Principal