5 Key Reasons People Resist Change in Nonprofit Organizations

“I love change, but you go first” is a funny truism in the nonprofit world. Yet dealing with change is one of the most important things we do as mindful leaders. It takes compassion, wisdom, listening, and, most importantly, time. If you have thought about the change for a week, discussed it with colleagues, and had intense conversations or even argued for a position before coming to a conclusion, your staff and colleagues need at least as much time to process the information and come to their own conclusions. I would argue they would need more- like 2 or 3 weeks to process the information. Most leaders expect people to hear about the change and to say ok- I am on board. That is a fantasy. When it comes to change, our staff and colleagues deserve to ask hard questions and get the answers before signing on. Good leaders will face conflict and deal with the uncomfortable position of being challenged when the change is not palatable to staff. Yet so many of us lack the courage to open up and talk about the realities. Mindful leadership is hard. What are the common challenges to resistance to organizational change? Understanding why people resist change may be helpful to understand the crucial for leaders seeking to implement successful transformations. Here are five common reasons behind this resistance: Fear of the Unknown: Change often introduces uncertainty. Employees fear how it will affect their roles, job security, and daily routines. Be ready to have answers. Loss of Control: Change may make employees feel like they are losing control over their work environment. This loss of autonomy can lead to a feeling of powerlessness or anxiety. Be sure to let them know how they can influence or where they have authority. Lack of Involvement: Employees may feel undervalued or marginalized when they are not consulted or involved in the change process, especially when the change will dramatically affect their work lives. If they can engage in the process, let them know how. No Rewards or Incentives: Change without clear benefits or incentives can be a tough sell. Employees need to see how the change will benefit them and the organization. Be ready to offer incentives for early adopters. Bad Experiences: Almost all of us have experienced ineffective change, which can leave a lasting impact. If employees have been through poorly managed changes in the past, why would they be eager to try something new, this time. Be sure to offer them a rationale why this change is different and why it will be successful- for them. To overcome resistance to change, prioritize effective and constant communication. Listen to your team, show compassion, and be a mindful leader. Understand that change takes time—give your staff ample space to process and many venues to ask questions. Embrace the uncomfortable position of being challenged when your change isn’t well-received. Remember, change is a team sport. You can’t do it alone. Follow me on social media @drtheresarickekiely on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. #mindfulleadership #nonprofitleadership Watch for my upcoming book on mindful nonprofit leadership coming soon!