Ideological resistance to change is firmly rooted in people’s beliefs. It can be difficult to win these people over unless you demonstrate that the change—or project—you are implementing is compatible with their beliefs.
This post is part of a mini-series on managing resistance to change. Please see our related posts
Every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when they are trying to create something good…The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be. – Donald Miller
This post shows you how to recognise ideological resistance to change and also provides tips for dealing with ideological resistance to change in the workplace.
Understanding Ideological Resistance to Change
To illustrate ideology and ideological resistance to change let’s consider Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Ideas such as Darwin’s theory of natural selection are often vigorously opposed. For instance, by church, government or scientific peers. In fact, Charles Darwin peers were probably the source of strongest resistance!
We find that it takes time for new ideas to be accepted. And sometimes some will never accept a new theory or change of direction.
In business, people may believe that a new direction violates the fundamental values held by the organisation. They feel nostalgic about the organisation and about past successes. They don’t want to change! This is particularly problematic in organisations where middle managers with long tenure are persuasive throughout the organisation—something we see in the public sector.
People believe the proposed change breaks the fundamental values that give the organisation its identity.
Such people find it difficult to adapt to change. They display an ideological resistance to change and are likely to do one of the following two things when the vision for change is first made public
- Suppress the change initiative through inertia, delays and arguing for their cause—sometime called moral advocacy
- Challenge the legitimacy of the change leader and the initiative
Dealing with Ideological Resistance to Change
Unless checked ideological resistance to change will prevail and impede the change initiative. Therefore, it is imperative that project and change leaders manage ideological resistance to change. Leaders can do this by doing the following
- Update organisational strengths to fit your vision for change
- Anchor your change in the organisation’s historical values
- Use positive, engaging and uplifting values to describe the change
- Use symbolic skills—the use of words and images—and be ready to remove resistance to change
Have Your Say
How do you help people through change? How do you spot ideological resistance to change? Please join the discussion.
Creative Commons image courtesy Dave Bassett.