The Winning Formula


Handling resistance to change on the business growth journey

Change and business growth are inextricably linked. The business growth journey is one of constant change. You cannot participate in one without experiencing the other.

Both journeys constantly challenge those people involved in them at all levels in the business.

The steer and strategy for ‘change’ within any growing organisation will come from the directors and senior management team, but the middle managers, supervisors and team leaders will also play a major role in its implementation.

It is crucial, therefore, that every member of the management team is equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to deliver the new business growth strategies required for the future success of the organisation. An important part of their development should focus on identifying and understanding the reasons for any resistance to change on the business growth journey.

Reasons for resistance to change

It is our experience that at times on the journey, there is often resistance to change.

Throughout any ‘growth’ period some people will leave the company, new staff will be recruited and existing personnel will need to be convinced of the need to change and to ‘buy into’ your organisation’s new plans for ‘growth’.

Some of the reasons employees will resist ‘change’ are:

  • They enjoy the status quo and are not convinced of the need for ‘change’
  • There is a mistrust of the management’s motives
  • People cannot see a personal pay-off as a result of any ‘change’
  • Fear of the unknown – very few people have previous experience of business ‘growth’ and the journey involved
  • Fear of loss of status (or power within the organisation)
  • Lack of personal involvement in the ‘change’ process.

Other reasons may include:

  •  A previous poor experience of ‘growth and change’ initiatives
  • Baggage from a previous organisation or manager
  • Belief that the organisation is doing well and therefore doesn’t need to change

Overcoming resistance to change

Proposed ‘change’ is generally speaking experienced by individuals on an emotional, political and rational level. People may question how ‘change’ will affect them personally; they may have concerns about loss of control; or question whether ‘change’ is right for the organisation.

  • Emotional resistance is triggered by the feeling of not being able to cope with and adapt to new demands placed on the individual. Resistance is normally at its highest when relationships or processes are affected. Changes to the way in which a team and department operate are a good example. High levels of emotional resistance attach lower levels of emotional energy and commitment to change.
  • Political resistance is triggered by the loss of power, status and authority as a result of the proposed change and is commonly experienced by managers if changes to roles, responsibilities and people structures occur in the organisation.
  • Rational resistance is triggered when individuals believe that the costs of implementing the change will outweigh the benefits, or when the knowledge or skills required to implement the change are missing.

Whatever the reasons for resisting change, identifying them and taking appropriate action is a key task of the leadership team particularly in the early days of the business growth journey.

Communication is vitally important to keeping your people engaged. Hold regular feedback sessions with your people. Listen carefully to their thoughts and views on the progress you are making. Try to link their feedback to the three potential responses – emotional, political or rational. Then respond accordingly.

Best wishes on your journey, wherever it may take you.