Why do they resist change so much?
The most common question that arises during my change workshops with clients is “Why do they resist so much?” We’ve heard the old cliché that “people don’t resist change, they resist being changed” but there is a serious lack of effective advice in this area.
Involvement, solid communications and good leadership are all important but a deep understanding of what motivates individuals is key to effectively dealing with resistance. David Rock’s SCARF framework is one of my favourite models for understanding motivation during change. The model describes the five primary rewards or threats that are important to the brain during change. They can be used for understanding how we collaborate with and influence people.
5 key factors
Rock describes the 5 factors that motivate your staff during change as follows:
- Status: Our relative importance to others
- Certainty: Our being able to predict the future
- Autonomy: Our sense of control over events
- Relatedness: Our sense of trust and safety with others
- Fairness: Our perception of fair exchanges between people
He explains the model in the video below:
Rock concludes that these SCARF factors drive our behaviour. We are subconsciously driven away from any changes that threaten any of these five factors and attracted towards changes that reward or reinforce them.
Implications for you as a change leader
What does this mean for a change leader?
Status: Look for opportunities to recognise individual’s contributions during change. Draw attention to small but significant acts of personal dedication and sacrifice. Make your change journey as rich and as rewarding as possible and highlight significant personal development that can be gained.
Certainty: Communicate regularly and thoroughly. Engage your team in meaningful discussion and avoid endless downloads. Highlight that there will inevitably be some uncertainty related to the change. Build trust and tell your employees all that you know about the change and how they will be affected.
Autonomy: Create a feeling of empowerment rather than powerlessness. Show people that they can actually control or influence more that they give themselves credit for. Involve your team in key decisions and give them their own areas of responsibility during the change.
Relatedness: We are aware of the risk of fragmentation during change. Invest time in maintaining relationships and try to meet with your team regularly. Treat every individual with respect and dignity.
Fairness: Fairness is always a tricky one. Some people perceive fairness as treating everyone the same whereas others perceive it as treating everyone as individuals and on merit. Surface these different perceptions and be clear which definition will apply and in what context/situation.
If you would like to find out more about how we apply SCARF in our change leadership workshops and how to motivate your staff during change, please contact us at 0191 2404050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find out more by visiting our Leading Change page.
We look forward to hearing from you.