Overcoming Resistance to Change in Organizations: 10 Practical Tips

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: June 6, 2024

When facing resistance to change in an organization, especially when the executive team pushes for a system that may not be the right fit, it's crucial to navigate the situation thoughtfully and strategically. Here are some insights and tips on how to manage such scenarios effectively:

Understanding the Problem

First and foremost, it's essential to understand the root cause of resistance. Often, the resistance arises from a misalignment between the executives' vision and the on-the-ground reality perceived by the rest of the company. To bridge this gap, it’s helpful to articulate the problem in a way that everyone, including the executive team, can understand.

Engaging with the Executive Team

1. Clarify the Vision:

  • Understand Goals and Objectives:
    • Begin by engaging with the executive team to clearly understand their vision and objectives. What do they hope to achieve with the new system or change? Understanding their goals can help in framing the discussion and aligning it with the broader company strategy.
  • Document and Communicate:
    • Document these goals and communicate them to the rest of the organization. This ensures everyone understands the "why" behind the change and how it aligns with the company’s future direction.

2. Develop a Functional Architecture:

  • Identify Core Needs:
    • Before diving into specific solutions, create a functional architecture based on the executives' requirements. This architecture should outline the essential modules and functionalities needed to achieve the desired outcomes. Think of this as creating a "shopping list" of what the company needs from the new system.
  • Prioritize Requirements:
    • Prioritize the features and functionalities based on their importance to the business objectives. This helps in making informed decisions when evaluating different solutions.

3. Use the Functional Architecture as a Guide:

  • Benchmark Potential Solutions:
    • With the functional architecture in place, use it as a benchmark to evaluate potential solutions. This ensures that any system under consideration meets the core needs of the business as outlined in the architecture.
  • Facilitate Objective Comparisons:
    • The architecture allows for an objective comparison of different systems, focusing on how well each one meets the documented requirements rather than on marketing hype or personal preferences.

Creating Alignment Across the Organization

4. Involve Key Stakeholders:

  • Gather Diverse Perspectives:
    • Engage key stakeholders from various departments in the creation of the functional architecture. Their input is invaluable as it ensures that the architecture reflects the real needs and concerns of the organization.
  • Foster Ownership and Buy-In:
    • Involving stakeholders early in the process fosters a sense of ownership and buy-in, making them more likely to support the change and advocate for it within their teams.

5. Evaluate Solutions Collaboratively:

  • Cross-Functional Evaluation Teams:
    • When it comes time to choose a system, do so collaboratively. Form cross-functional evaluation teams to assess how well each potential system aligns with the functional architecture. This process helps create a shared understanding and consensus on the best-fit solution.
  • Transparent Decision-Making:
    • Ensure that the decision-making process is transparent. Document the evaluation criteria and share the findings with the organization to build trust and credibility.

Tips for Overcoming Resistance

6. Communicate Clearly and Frequently:

  • Regular Updates:
    • Transparency is key. Regularly update the entire organization on the progress of the project, the reasons behind decisions, and the expected benefits. Clear communication can alleviate fears and build trust.
  • Two-Way Communication:
    • Encourage feedback and questions from employees. Create channels for two-way communication where concerns can be voiced and addressed promptly.

7. Provide Training and Support:

  • Comprehensive Training Programs:
    • Ensure that employees have the necessary training and support to adapt to the new system. Resistance often stems from fear of the unknown or lack of skills to handle the new technology.
  • Ongoing Support:
    • Provide ongoing support through help desks, user manuals, and regular Q&A sessions to assist employees during and after the transition.

8. Pilot Programs:

  • Controlled Testing:
    • Implement pilot programs to test the new system in a controlled environment. This allows for real-world feedback and adjustments before a full rollout, reducing resistance and increasing the chances of success.
  • Iterative Improvements:
    • Use feedback from the pilot to make iterative improvements. Demonstrating responsiveness to employee input can enhance their confidence in the new system.

9. Address Concerns Head-On:

  • Open Forums and Town Halls:
    • Listen to the concerns of employees and address them directly. Whether it’s through town hall meetings, surveys, or one-on-one discussions, showing that you value their input can significantly reduce resistance.
  • Actionable Solutions:
    • Develop actionable solutions to address the concerns raised. Communicate these solutions and track their implementation to demonstrate commitment to resolving issues.

10. Celebrate Small Wins:

  • Acknowledge Achievements:
    • Acknowledge and celebrate small wins during the implementation process. This boosts morale and demonstrates progress, helping to build momentum and buy-in for the change.
  • Share Success Stories:
    • Share success stories and positive outcomes from the new system’s early adopters. Highlighting tangible benefits can encourage others to embrace the change.

Conclusion: Resistance to Change

Navigating resistance to change requires a structured approach that aligns the vision of the executive team with the practical realities of the organization. By creating a functional architecture, involving key stakeholders, and maintaining clear communication, companies can overcome resistance and ensure successful implementation of new systems. Remember, the goal is to create a solution that meets the needs of the business while ensuring that employees feel supported and valued throughout the process

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Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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