Wondering why managers resist change? The answer lies mostly in the fact that they have misconceptions, but it’s also true that they have a certain amount of fear.

One type of change managers love to resist is the implementation of new ERP software. New software often means changes to familiar workflows as well as shifting roles and responsibilities. It’s common for managers to resist these changes, especially if the reasons behind these shifts aren’t made clear from the beginning.

This is where change management comes in. What is change management? It is the process of looking at the human side of a project.

Today, we’re shedding light on the most common reasons for this resistance, and how your company can manage this pushback throughout your ERP implementation.

10 Reasons Managers Resist Change

1. Fear of Losing Authority

Enterprise software can’t replace your entire workforce. It can, however, make your employees’ jobs easier and more efficient. To this end, managers might fear that it could lessen their role or even render their position less integral to the organization. 

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2. Feeling Left Out

Sometimes, the C-suite will make the executive decision to move ahead with a change without first consulting individual managers.

When managers feel left out, they are less likely to support the initiative. This can result in a lack of business-IT alignment because managers are the ones who are best-suited to speak to pain points in current processes and how a new system could solve them.

This role is typically known as a “business process owner.” Without process owners, you’ll have a hard time mapping end-to-end processes and may overlook pain points in the parts of a workflow where you have less visibility.

3. Can’t Handle the Time Commitment

It’s no secret that enterprise-wide changes take time. While the return is almost always worth the investment, it can be stressful in the short term. 

If managers already feel like they’re stretched thin, they may resist participating in a project that could put them even more behind. 

For example, a new ERP system takes time to learn, and managers might be reluctant to participate in end-user training because they can’t shoulder the extra workload. 

In other cases, new software may trigger a business process reengineering effort that requires manager input. This can pull managers away from their day job and make them feel overcommitted.

4. Already Comfortable

The adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” doesn’t exactly apply to ERP implementation and digital transformations. These initiatives are about looking ahead and considering the changes that must take place to position a company for long-term success. 

However, many managers think this old adage perfectly applies to ERP projects, especially if they don’t see any glaring problems with the status quo.

5. Lack of Confidence

Managers aren’t made of iron. They feel fear and even self-doubt like the rest of us.

Responsible for leading others, managers know that they’re intently watched and are aware of their influence. As such, they might be apprehensive to embrace a change because they aren’t sure if they have the skills or abilities to succeed and they don’t want to fail in front of their superiors or employees.

6. Anticipating a Negative Impact on Their Role

Unless a manager knows what to expect once the new system is in place, there can be a great degree of ambiguity surrounding the project. This can cause managers to wonder how their role will look or if they’ll even have a job once it’s up and running. 

7. Remembering Past Failures

As software expert witnesses, we see ERP failures as treasure troves of lessons learned. However, most people don’t view ERP failure this way, especially if they were directly involved.

If your organization has ever experienced an implementation that failed to deliver on expectations, there’s a good chance that managers vividly remember the trauma. 

This clouds their view of future projects and diminishes their confidence. They become reluctant to participate in future risky endeavors.

8. Feeling Concern for Their Team

Managers might wonder how a new system will impact the employees on their team.

For instance, an accounting lead may worry that automating most financial functions will drastically reduce the number of necessary in-house personnel.

Whenever managers worry that their teams will be structurally changed or made smaller, you should know that change resistance isn’t far behind.

9. Not Seeing Any Personal Benefit

“What’s in it for me?”

It’s a common question and one that your managers will undoubtedly ask you at least once during the project. If there isn’t a clear answer, this will only cultivate feelings of being left out of the loop. 

10. Lack of Change Awareness

Have you ever felt completely unprepared for a major change that happened in your life? While there’s a degree of excitement in the unknown, this isn’t what you want in an ERP project.

Left in the dark, managers will not feel excitement but anxiety as they try to piece together the small number of details they know about the project.

How to Manage Managers’ Resistance

Knowing why your managers are resisting change is only one part of the puzzle. Here are a few steps that your organization can take to proactively manage this resistance before it snowballs into a bigger issue.

1. Engage Managers in Project Planning

From the beginning, make sure that company managers are actively involved in the project.

For example, you should Include them in requirements gathering workshops and other key elements of ERP software selection

Ultimately, managers are subject matter experts in their respective departments. Treating them as such could transform them into some of your most active and vocal change agents. 

2. Ensure Executive Support

Executive buy-in is required for ERP projects to get off the ground. It also gives managers the sense that they’re fully supported from the top down. 

If executives support and advocate for the change, it will be much easier to encourage managers to do the same. 

3. Allow Appropriate Time

Working with a too-short timeline doesn’t usually end well. If managers are already concerned about a change, they’ll feel even more apprehensive if they’re forced to rearrange their schedules to meet unrealistic deadlines. 

To this end, try to allow them plenty of time to do their job, while seeking their input into project delivery dates. 

4. Provide Training Resources

When they first stepped into their roles, managers were trained on how to do their job. Yet, chances are, they weren’t trained on how to lead their entire department through a transformative change. 

In light of this, it’s important to create training materials that help managers strengthen their leadership skills to navigate these next steps. 

In addition to training resources, make sure that managers have access to the labor and finances that they need to move forward in confidence. 

5. Listen to Concerns

If you know that a manager is unhappy about a change or unwilling to embrace it, then don’t sweep that knowledge under the rug. Instead, schedule a meeting to sit down and discuss the details.

During these discussions, pay close attention to their specific worries and anxieties. Most of the time, you’ll find that their active resistance is just a facade to hide their real feelings. 

6. Focus on Clear Communication

You can sidestep almost every case of manager resistance by keeping all project-related communication clear and concise. 

We recommend developing a change management strategy that includes a communication plan. As you’re building this plan, you’ll define personalized messaging and outline who will deliver it and when.

Understand Why Managers Resist Change

An enterprise-wide change is exciting on many levels. However, not everyone at your company will be as enthusiastic about it as you are. This includes managers.

Managers resist change primarily because it leads them to question the value they bring to the company. To keep these sentiments at bay, you should involve department managers throughout the project, especially during the planning phase.

Our ERP implementation consultants can help you incorporate organizational change management into your ERP project to ensure managers feel prepared to embrace new processes and technology – and help their teams do so, as well. Contact us below for a free consultation.

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