POPin Blog

Identifying and Understanding 5 Passive Types of Resistance to Change

Change is inevitable, and so are people’s responses to it. 6,700,000 hits on Google for ‘Change Management’ tells you people are very interested in dealing with it too. It can be a challenge for team members to embrace change. A successful manager can identify and understand passive resistance to change, and work with their team to overcome it. Here’s our guide to identifying 5 types of silent protest and resistance to change and how to understand them.

The Five Most Common Types of Resistance To Change

Passive resistance to change is harder to identify, but just as challenging, as active, over resistance. Five symptoms are:
  1. Verbal agreement to change – but no follow through
  2. Withholding information
  3. Failing to implement change
  4. Procrastination
  5. Doing nothing
Identifying these signs, or symptoms is only the first step. Let’s briefly delve into the underlying thought processes behind each to understand why people behave this way.

1. Verbal Agreement – But No Follow Through

Your employees can likely understand academically the merits of change, maybe even see why it is needed. However, because their role and skills are involved, this can create uncertainty and anxiety. Many of us quietly question our ability to be able to adapt to new roles and learn new skills and behaviors. We fear the failure that could come from having to do things in a new way.

2. Withholding Information

Whilst not shouting their resistance from the rooftops, some employees could see the information and skills that they have as currency that they can withhold to resist change. This may be unconscious and is prompted by an underlying fear of becoming obsolete.

3. Failing to Implement Change

You brief your team on the change. You train them. You let them go to implement it. It doesn’t happen. Excuses for not implementing the change may abound but these types of resistance to change may be rooted in the how rather than the what. Employees may feel they understand the job better than management does and that change would be detrimental. It is vital to have a meaningful and open dialogue with employees prior to implementation to gain their buy-in.

4. Procrastination

Common business speak such as ‘efficiency’ and ‘streamlining’ can strike fear into the hearts of employees and cause them to delay in implementing change. Efficiency can lead people to feel that they will be asked to do more work in less time, whilst streamlining could make people think their jobs will be eliminated. If they have not been helped to see the big picture, it will be hard to get their buy-in. Their productivity may decrease as they procrastinate in following through.

5. Doing Nothing

Sometimes the thought of change can cause workplace paralysis. People are motivated both to meet their own needs and prevent problems from occurring. If they are unsure on either of these points they could freeze and take a course of non-action. Providing your team with the information to allay these concerns can help to address this.

The Takeaway

Whilst change is unavoidable, your workforce is your biggest asset and you need them on board. Considering the types of resistance to change you’re likely to encounter and methods to overcome them prior to implementing change and the transition will be smoother and benefit your company. Check out our range of tools we have to gain valuable insights into your organization.