We see change regularly in the workplace, whether internal or externally driven. Change isn’t embraced evenly by individuals or departments and sometimes the enthusiasm for change is hard to predict. So is there some kind of formula for change aversion (in the workplace)? If there is, it might include some combination of the following elements.
Enjoyment of the status quo (a preference for recurring patterns). How much do you enjoy the status quo? Why would someone change jobs, departments, or group views when they really value the people around them? Patterns are also comforting. Coping with variation within the boundaries of what’s been previously encountered may seem manageable (e.g. I’ve been a biological parent or staff manager once, I can do it again), whereas branching out into the unknown (becoming a foster parent of overseas orphan kids, inheriting staff with quite different skillsets, or volunteering to help with an automation project) may simply be perceived as being less enjoyable. In the workplace, can help someone replicate this enjoyment if can convince them to go from a frame to a re-frame, working with the same people (or set of issues) after the change.
Level of basic inertia – the desire for change remaining less than the desire for continuity. The desire might be related to the level of enjoyment, a fear of change, the level of existing resource commitment being very high, incentivisation to maintain the status quo, or perhaps a lack of imagination to see a viable and improved alternative. In the workplace, can overcome the inertia, by introducing a catalyst (increase the momentum) or first changing the incentive structure. If can convince the person that the status quo won’t prevail (doing nothing is not an option), their attention will likely turn to the choice of changes, not the status quo versus change.
Risk from change – a fear of the unknown. The fear or concern might relate to a person’s; perceived risk to life, political & social reputation, the likely magnitude of the financial upside and downside and/or the likely probability of occurrence of various outcomes. In the workplace, if are able to value the risks and outline them, this element can be mitigated.
The cost to change – what actual investment is required in time and money to make the change happen? If the upfront cost is perceived as too high, this will rule out the perceived ability to change, even if the desire for change is present. However, in the workplace, where the upfront cost can be undertaken by another party instead, this element is reduced.