If you are a manager in charge of managing and implementing a change, the fact that people resist it can be just downright frustrating. This is particularly true if you believe in the change and see the true value of it to the employees and the company.

But there will always be people that resist change, however irrational they may seem to you and as such it is worth investing a little time in the psychology of that resistance.

Firstly, some people are just built like that. According to research:
• Around a quarter of people will be enthusiastic about the change and see it as an opportunity.
• About half will just wait and see what happens.
• And the remaining quarter will be made up of cynics that say “yes, but” a lot and a very small, but alarming minority that may try to sabotage your efforts.

Identify them as early as possible. The Enthusiasts are your allies. They will help you drive the change and bring as many other people round as possible. Convince the cynics, particularly if they are a respected member of a group as they will convince other cynics and you need to sway that middle 50%. The angry minority will likely never change so you just have to ignore them or offer them an exit strategy.

So get the enthusiasts on board and get inside the heads if those resisting.

Change engenders strong emotions in people and what may seem patently irrational to you, is perfectly rational to them, so there is no point in preaching. You have to see it from everybody’s point of view: consider whether the change might threaten their status, their skill levels and their comfort zone; consider their previous experience of change and how it was managed; ask yourself what they stand to gain or lose from this implementation. Think about the way the vision has been communicated to them – do they really understand what the change will mean for them in practice? Do they feel they have no control or does it just seem too complex to them?

Very often emotions will overrule intellect so it’s important you get under the skin of those emotions. Help them to see the advantages for themselves, encourage them to discuss the change. The earlier you can get people involved in the decisions regarding tools or training, for example, the more likely they are to accept it. Humans tend to support what they help to create.

The more you understand about the people you are asking to change the more successful your change will be.