Arlington, VA December 31, 2013
This short piece went to LinkedIn.Com as a reply to a question in the Strategic Planning and Corporate Strategy Xchange. Thought you might like to read it here as well.
In my view, resisters to change occur in virtually all projects over time. Some are 'silent resisters', who simply don't want change--they are perfectly happy, they think, in the current world. Most will go along with whatever decision is made, although they would really prefer to be left alone in their little niche.
Then there are 'active resisters', those who made it eminently clear they are opposed to any change affecting themselves. This group does not mind what you do to others--just leave them alone and go away. This group generally will never be supportive of a change effort--they will do what the boss tells them, and then figure out a way to continue their normal practices, while appearing to be supportive. This group, when expected, can be handled through risk mitigation, or even active involvement in the process change, with the hope they might -come around to the proposed changes as their own work.
The third group are the 'hidden resisters', those who stay in the background, as deep in the structure as possible, and make their displeasure with change known to small groups, through innuendo and casual conversation--but nothing frequent enough to raise the radar. You just can't put a finger on these people, but they are the most dangerous because of their insidious opposition. It is very hard to get real reasons from these people for their opposition, but you do get some sense of them through the discussions with other employees and managers. if you do, then your risk management plan can include potential issues that need avoidance or mitigation where possible.
Be aware, though, that these three types can be employees, managers, or even external stakeholders, and they all have seemingly plausible reasons for their opposition.