Resistance Checklist: Best Practices for Managing Resistance to Change
Written by Tim Creasey
Prosci's Resistance Checklist draws on more than 20 years of benchmarking research with more than 8,000 change management professionals around the world. Use this high-level checklist as a starting point for aligning your resistance management activities with change management best practices. You can also download and share the PDF version for future reference.
Are you expecting and planning for resistance?
When human beings are exposed to changes in their surroundings, resistant behaviors are natural and a common reaction. This holds true for changes at home and at work. Even if you expect the change or solution to improve the employees' situation, do not be surprised if you experience resistant behaviors. Expect and plan for resistance, and identify the steps you can take to help people adopt and use changes effectively.
Have you identified where resistance to the change might come from?
For a particular change in your organization, think about where resistance might come from and how you will deal with it before you begin implementing a solution. For instance, you can expect to see resistant behaviors coming from groups that are heavily invested in how things are done today. You can also expect resistant behaviors from people in parts of the organization that experience the most drastic changes or where changes have failed in the past. Proactively identifying where resistance might come from will help you plan for and resistance and help people move through their barriers to change.
Have you identified what resistance to the change might look like?
Early in the project lifecycle, brainstorm what resistant behaviors might look like, where it is likely to come from, and how you might help people address their reservations, so you can take steps to mitigate resistance. This "resistance prevention" is the primary avenue of resistance management.
Have you identified potential risks to the project related to resistance?
When employees exhibit resistant behavior, it becomes a significant source of risk for the project and the organization as a whole. Although we must always be empathic with employees, we need to remember that resistant behaviors can result in project delays, missed objectives, lower return on investment (ROI), or a change being thrown out altogether. At the launch of a new project, be sure to identify and document the risks associated with resistance and how you can begin to mitigate them.
Are you able to diagnose the root causes of resistance?
Many organizations fall into a trap of addressing the symptoms of resistant behaviors and not dealing directly with the root causes of resistance. Be sure to have methods in place for understanding why employees are resisting the change, and deal directly with those root causes.
Do you know the top reasons employees resist change?
Participants in Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management research consistently identify a lack of awareness about the business purpose of the change as the top reason employees resist change. If you are responsible for managing change, be sure to address this awareness gap and the other common reasons for resistance cited in the report.
Are you using an individual change management model to understand resistance?
Resistance happens at an individual level for specific and unique reasons. One employee's perspective on the change may be very different from another's, even if they are in the same work group. An individual change management model, such as the Prosci ADKAR Model, gives you a foundation for understanding how one person goes through change and thus a tool for understanding the real reasons for why a particular individual resists a change.
Do you have a system in place to identify and respond to resistance?
Although the Prosci 3-Phase Process focuses on preventing resistant behaviors before it impacts the organization, you must also be prepared to address those behaviors during implementation when it does occur. Such "resistance response" requires developing and documenting the specific actions you and you organization's people managers will take as needed.
Have you prepared and equipped the right people to address resistant behaviors?
The most effective resistance manager is usually the direct supervisor of the person resisting a change. If you have a vice president who resists a change, the senior vice president they report to should step in. Likewise, if a front-line call center agent resists a change, the employee's people manager is in the best position to address the resistant behaviors. As a project team member or change management resource, your job is to prepare and equip managers throughout the organization, so they can manage resistance and help employees through the change process.
Learn More About Resistance Management
The contents of this checklist are based on the Prosci Methodology and Prosci's biennial Best Practices in Change Management research studies. To learn more, visit our Resource Center to explore helpful downloads, on-demand webinars, and many other free resources. If you're ready to learn and apply the Prosci Methodology and tools, and elevate your success with organizational change, attend a Prosci Change Management Certification Program.