If you dread organizational change, you are not alone. Any type of work-related change, regardless of how large or small, is typically met with resistance. These sentiments are universal and affect everyone from part-time employees to C-level executives. Why? Because it’s built into our biology.
Here’s what you need to know about the science of change resistance:
1. We are creatures of habit. Researchers have determined that humans are most comfortable when involved in “high levels of repetitive activities within the same context day after day.” (1) Any deviation from this routine can be difficult to manage. This is true even when changes may be beneficial.
2. Change makes us feel stressed and overwhelmed. Change, particularly in the workplace, can trigger anxiety. New job responsibilities may make employees feel incompetent. As they worry about their job performance, they become increasingly fearful of organizational change. This is especially true for long-time employees who’ve been following particular business processes for a very long time.
3. We hunger for certainty. The human brain yearns for certainty, and makes every effort to avoid uncertainty. Organizational change can cause employees to feel uncertain about their job security. Could process automation make their position obsolete?
4. We know that change can result in unforeseen problems. In everyday life, humans instinctively anticipate negative outcomes, regardless of how unlikely they may be. It goes without saying that the fear of negative outcomes leads to change resistance. What if an employee was greeted on Monday morning with the news that their supervisor was replaced by someone new? This may be good news if the old supervisor was a poor manager, but the employee may still focus on the negatives.
It’s impossible to deny that organizational change is difficult, even when changes are beneficial. Humans are wired to fear change, which is why organizational change management consultants exist.