Managing Resistance to Change: How-to for Administrators

June 15, 2023


A group of people gathered around the table in a team meeting. Everyone is managing resistance to change and working on being adaptable.

It seems that the only constant in business is change. Therefore, managing resistance to change is imperative to running a smooth organization. Changes in the workplace are inevitable and most often result in streamlined processes, improved services or products, and advancements in your field. However, change is often met with some resistance. 

In this article, you will learn helpful techniques for managing resistance to change in your company. These techniques will be useful for managing your team when it comes to workplace changes, as well as for you personally. 

Resistance to Change: Where Does It Come From? 

To be effective at managing resistance to change, you must focus on the root of the resistance. While the root reasons may vary from employee to employee, they are identifiable. For the best results, you must work towards understanding the root cause, and not just the symptoms, of someone's aversion to change. 

When it comes to workplace change, resistance stems from one of the following areas: 

  • A lack of communication between the organization and its employees regarding why the change is being implemented 

  • Concern over the direct impact the change will have on their current role within the company 

  • Lack of trust in management or administration 

  • Not feeling included in the discussions or decisions about the change 

  • Uncertainty over new changes due to failed workplace changes in the past

If you are encountering resistance to change in your organization, it is likely coming from one of the aforementioned root feelings. 

Spotting an Employee Who Is Resistant to Change  

Spotting the symptoms of resistance is often much easier than identifying the cause. The symptoms will be clear and often overt. If after a recent workplace change, you notice the following in your team member(s), you likely are running into an employee that is resistant to change. 

  • Chronic complaining about the changes or the workplace in general 

  • Combative questioning about the necessity of the change or the processes 

  • Skipping or being tardy to important briefings and meetings over workplace changes 

  • A reluctance to provide requested documents, processes, or information needed for changes 

  • A refusal to alter their daily functions or processes to align with the new changes 

If you are encountering any of the above with your team, tackling the symptoms rather than the root cause will not be helpful to you. You must open a dialogue with each team member individually and determine what the root cause of their resistance is. 

Resistance to Change Management: A 5-Step Plan 

The key to managing resistance to change is to try to prevent it from occurring in the first place. It is likely you will have a few employees who will remain resistant to change. However, with a well-thought-out plan and techniques for managing resistance to change, you will lessen the number of employees affected.

Communicate and Educate 

Ensure your team has an understanding of why the change is being implemented. Don’t leave them to wonder, sit in fear, or come up with answers amongst themselves. Communicate openly with your team about upcoming changes and educate them on why these changes are necessary. 

Encourage Participation 

People are more likely to be resistant to change if they do not feel included in the process. Encourage participation from your employees in workplace changes. Also, invite your team to share ideas for how to best implement changes in day-to-day operations. 

Offer Support 

Workplace changes often alter routines and schedules, and this can sometimes challenge certain skill sets. Therefore, ensure you offer support to your employees for new changes. Updated training, employee enhancement seminars, and additional administrative support for increased workloads are some great ways to offer support. 

Ask for Agreement and Help 

Ask your employees for their agreement on changes and for their help in implementing them. Many people are inclined to dig in their heels if they are approached with a “our way or the highway” attitude. Employees will more easily adjust if management asks for their help and agreement. Ask them if they would like to help and be an important part of these adjustments. 

Follow-up and Encourage Ongoing Feedback 

Once you implement a change, you must follow up with your team. Set a meeting for two weeks in, six weeks in, and three months out. Ask how the changes are going and whether any areas need improvement, and be open to making adjustments based on this feedback.

As an admin professional, understanding change and managing resistance to change are integral to your role. For more information on change and people management, look to our training resources here at ASAP. We’re here to help you become a better leader and communicator.

Download our infographic on Resistance to Change Management: A 5-Step Plan

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