Prosci's Resistance Checklist draws on more than 20 years of benchmarking research with more than 8,000 change management professionals around the world. Use this high-level checklist as a starting point for aligning your resistance management activities with change management best practices. You can also download and share the PDF version for future reference.
Are you expecting and planning for resistance?
When human beings are exposed to changes in their surroundings, resistance is a natural and common reaction. This holds true for changes at home and at work. Even if you expect the change or solution to improve the employees' situation, do not be surprised if you experience resistance. Expect and plan for resistance, and identify the steps you can take to build buy-in and commitment.
Have you identified where resistance to the change might come from?
For a particular change in your organization, think about where resistance might come from and how you will deal with it before you begin implementing a solution. For instance, you can expect to see resistance coming from groups that are heavily invested in how things are done today. You can also expect resistance from the parts of the organization that experience the most drastic changes or where changes have failed in the past. Proactively identifying where resistance might come from will help you plan for and deal with pending resistance.
Have you identified what resistance to the change might look like?
Early in the project lifecycle, brainstorm what resistance might look like, where it is likely to come from, and how you might mitigate it. This resistance prevention is the primary avenue of resistance management.
Have you identified potential risks to the project related to resistance?
Resistance to change is a significant source of risk for the project and the organization as a whole. Resistance to change can result in project delays, missed objectives, lower return on investment (ROI), or a change being thrown out altogether. At the launch of a new project, document the risks associated with resistance and how you can begin to mitigate them.
Are you able to diagnose the root causes of resistance?
Many organizations fall into a trap of addressing the symptoms of resistance, and not dealing directly with the root causes of resistance. Be sure to have methods in place for understanding why employees are resisting change, and deal directly with those root causes.
Do you know the top reasons employees resist change?
Participants in Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management research consistently identify a lack of awareness about the business purpose of the change as the top reason employees resist change. If you are responsible for managing change, be sure to address this awareness gap and the other common reasons for resistance cited in the report.
Are you using an individual change management model to understand resistance?
Resistance happens at an individual level for specific and unique reasons. One employee's perspective on the change may be very different from another's, even if they are in the same work group. An individual change management model, such as the Prosci ADKAR Model, gives you a foundation for understanding how one person goes through change and thus a tool for understanding why a particular individual resists a change.
Do you have a system in place to identify and respond to resistance when it happens?
Although the Prosci 3-Phase Process focuses on preventing resistance before it impacts the organization, you must also be prepared to address resistance during implementation when it does occur. Such "resistance response" requires developing and documenting the specific actions you and you organization's people managers will take as needed.
Have you prepared and equipped the right people to address resistance?
The most effective resistance manager is usually the direct supervisor of the person resisting a change. If you have a vice president who resists a change, the senior vice president they report to should step in. Likewise, if a front-line call center agent resists a change, the employee's immediate supervisor is in the best position to address the resistance. As a project team member or change management resource, your job is to prepare and equip managers throughout the organization, so they can manage resistance and help employees through the change process.
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The contents of this checklist are based on the Prosci Methodology and Prosci's biennial Best Practices in Change Management research studies. To learn more, visit our Resource Center to explore helpful downloads, on-demand webinars, and many other free resources. If you're ready to learn and apply the Prosci Methodology and tools, and elevate your success with organizational change, attend a Prosci Change Management Certification Program.
Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.