6 Strategies for Overcoming Organizational Resistance

By George Slaughter

“Change is hard” is a cliché, but it’s also true. Those affected by change provide resistance if they fail to see how the changes can benefit customers, the company, or themselves.

To overcome resistance, visualize how things would be with the changes implemented. Be able to answer questions such as, Why are the changes necessary? Who would make the changes? What actions must be taken, and how and when must they be done?

After answering those questions, consider the following six strategies to overcome organizational resistance.

1. How the change serves the self interest of affected staff.

One might imagine that identifying the benefits to customers and the bottom line should take precedence. Yet those who would make the changes must first see how the changes will benefit them, or at least whether they will threaten their employment status, workload, and so on.

For example, updating a documentation template to include warning icons on the Quick Parts dropdown menu or removing unused paragraph tags would require some staff work.

2. How the change benefits customers.

A customer might benefit with a product that has new or improved features, or key fixes to already existing features or technology.

Using the improved template example, the customer benefits because the warning icons would better explain the dangers of improper product usage.

3. How the change improves the product/service.

Using the improved template example, adding the warning icons helps improve the clarity of warning messages. Removing the unused paragraph tags simplifies documentation design.

4. How the change improves the production process.

Using the improved template example, the improvements can improve the production process. With the warning icons easily available for use, one does not need to copy and paste icons from other sources. With the fewer paragraph tags, the writer has better choices for paragraph formatting.

5. How the change eases the staff’s workload.

Change might not immediately ease the staff workload. In some cases, the workload might increase in the short term to set the stage for easing the workload over the long term.

Using the improved template example, staff would need time at first to add the warning icons and remove the unused paragraph tags.

6. How the change improves the company’s bottom line.

“Time is money” is another cliché, but it is also true. However, not all changes are immediately quantifiable in terms of money. Still, making an effort to illustrate the changes in terms of added revenue, increase in customers, reduction in costs, or increase in profit helps make the case for change.

In general, one would calculate an hourly rate to figure out the bottom line, and divide it by the length of time it takes to perform a given task.

About the Author

George Slaughter is a writer, editor, and content strategist. His web site is georgeslaughter.com.