Team management

24 February 2022

3 min.

Turning resistance into engagement: Do you have the key?

Change. While some people are immediately enthusiastic about the idea, for many, the mere mention of the new can make them reflexively put on the brakes, even unintentionally. What makes some people resist change, while others welcome it as an engagement boost?

Five aspects of change

When the status quo is disrupted, humans react with respect to five aspects:

  • Status
  • Certainty
  • Autonomy
  • Relationships
  • Equity

And we didn’t invent this, it’s neuroscience research that tells us so! The fact remains that it is these five aspects that make us perceive change as either a threat or an opportunity. In other words, whether we win or lose!

Let’s take the time to examine each of these aspects.

Aspect #1: Status

When a change affects the roles and responsibilities of team members, or has an impact on their tasks, on the skills required — in short, on everything that affects performance — it is a change that affects the perceived value of the individual in relation to others.

Aspect #2: Certainty

A change that affects certainty is usually brought about by circumstances where people cannot get answers, even when they ask fundamental questions. Thus, the future is vague, and team members find themselves having to make sense of empty words because the messages they receive are so unclear.

Aspect #3: Autonomy

When a change affects organizational structures and decision-making processes, when it forces teamwork or excludes some people from decisions about events that affect their lives, it is the autonomy aspect that is at stake.

Aspect #4: Relationships

Change affects relationships when it disrupts trusting relationships between people, or their sense of belonging to a group. This can happen when new people come into the picture, both as managers and colleagues, or when a person feels excluded from certain groups.

Aspect #5: Equity

Finally, a change disrupts the equity aspect when people see differences in the way they are treated compared to their colleagues, whether it is in terms of financial conditions, workload, scheduling, or even the relationship with the manager.

Boost your teams

Learn as a team how to welcome and manage change!


Better safe than sorry!

While it is always possible to make adjustments along the way, managing the reaction to a change that is poorly perceived — and therefore resisted — can be quite costly, both in time and resources.

Furthermore, it is wrong to believe that we cannot predict how people will react to a change. In fact, if we take the time to analyze the changes through the lens of the five aspects mentioned above, we can naturally draw some conclusions, even if it means validating them later with the main stakeholders.

What aspects of the upcoming change could cause some people to react negatively? What strategies could you implement from the start to better support and empower them?

Remember that by taking action in advance, you have the power to transform the perception of threat in the face of change, and to make it a driver of engagement.

There is no point in waiting: say goodbye to resistance… and hello to engagement!