Categorized | Management

Common reasons for resistance in change programs

As a project manager, stakeholder management can be a complex and sometimes fraught activity. All projects will probably be subjected to a multitude of behaviour types during the execution of the schedule. The community will vary from those that are positive about the project to those that are negative and cause resistance.

Having to deal with resistance requires robust communications and management but it can also help to understand where resistance to your project is developed from. Consider

• Past experience – most stakeholders have experienced some form of change project before. Where the experience was negative, the previous project may have failed and this may result in the current anxiety.

• Conflict with personal goals – your project may be in direct competition with the goals of the stakeholder. For example the result of your project may mean the stakeholder would lose their job or radically change the activities that they undertake. As well as their own goals the project may pose a threat to colleagues or their direct peer group you may find in these circumstances that your resistance in not in the form of an individual but a group.

• Project management – the stakeholder may be critical of various attributes of the project management or methodology being used – the schedule, the activity plan, the goals or the benefits case may all come under criticism. They may also be resistant due to the structure of the project team or the amount of resource made available. They may also have conflicts of personality with members of the project team.

• Involvement – resistance can often be triggered by an inability to take part or contribute to the project.

• Communications – poor communications with symptoms such as little or poor feedback, unanswered questions, selective communications to particular stakeholder groups (management vs workers) can cause issues.

• Personal issues – The temperament of the individual is also important. Some may be pre-dispositioned to find fault with your project – they may be naturally argumentative – no matter what you might do to mitigate the issues it may not be sufficient.

• Fear – fear is triggered by the unknown or anxiety about what will be in place at the end of the project. For example if your deploying a new process – despite the fact that you have adequately explained the nature of the project and its benefits – you may find stakeholders being in the mindset of “i’ll believe it when I see it”.

Resistance to change can come from many areas – key to dealing with it is being mindful of what causes it and then understanding what can be done about that root cause. Bear in mind it’s highly unlikely that your project will ever have 100% support but knowing where this resistance comes from and how you can then tackle it should make for a smoother ride.

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