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Manage the Human Factor to Overcome Change Resistance

Manage the Human Factor to Overcome Change Resistance
Overcoming barriers to implementing positive organizational change is a huge challenge. Too many companies want to standardize operations and streamline business processes only to run aground when they try to implement changes. Why is that? 
We ran across a thought-provoking article, “The Non-Technical Side of Reliability,” by Mike Aroney, that’s worth a read. Aroney provides some important insights into why so many well-intentioned organizations fail in their efforts at change and what to do about improving the odds. 
Why have so few companies achieved stronger results? According to Aroney, “The reason is simple – they often fail to fully address the non-technical element of such an initiative–the human factor. . . . Most organizations are very good at solving technical problems because they have good problem-solvers with sound technical skills . . . but the technical problems are the easy problems. . .the soft stuff is the hard stuff.'” 

Overcome Change Resistance

Below, we explore some of the key points in Aroney’s article and offer some insights of our own on solving the challenge of the “human factor” and the role of systems, good leadership, and effective corporate training methods in achieving good outcomes.  

Disengaged Leadership 

Disengaged leadership is the first of three common errors organizations fall into when they try to implement change.

"... Disengaged leadership delegates the performance initiative to subordinates. This is usually because leaders believe they are too busy [to become directly involved]. It is paramount that leadership shows commitment to the project, not just support. A committed leader takes time to participate and communicate the change initiative’s importance to the participants and the organization. Too often, the leadership team tries to be efficient and empowers their focus teams to make the necessary changes. The result is that leadership sends coded signals to the organization that the change isn’t really important to them. If it were important and a strategic business initiative that would transform the organization, it would certainly act differently. If it is perceived to be unimportant to the leadership, then it becomes of secondary importance to those charged with implementing the initiative, and they will treat it accordingly.” 

At Comprose, we have seen this scenario play out over and over. Well-intentioned teams and project managers cannot implement change on their own without active leadership support. The most successful organizations are the ones with committed leaders and business sponsors who stay personally involved in the process of streamlining business processes and standardizing operations. 

A key aspect of the Comprose Operations Mapping method is to chart the direct relationships between strategic business goals and individual business systems, tasks, policies and procedures. 

In the case of a Zavanta implementation, executive leadership must be engaged, or the chance of lasting transformation suffers greatly. Well-intentioned project managers will waste valuable time and energy trying to gain acceptance for the new system. 


The second most common error organizations fall into when trying to overcome change resistance is under-communicating. They focus on the technical side and forget the all-important human factor. 

“Typically, technical problem-solvers underestimate the value of communicating information to the organization. . . . In the absence of information, impatience and dissatisfaction grow, and momentum can be lost. . . .The expectations of both senior managers and front-line workers must be managed to maintain momentum and build critical mass.” 

Miscommunication and lack of coordination cause more inefficiencies, delays, and lost opportunities than any other management problem. Too many organizations fail to recognize how important it is to communicate exactly what the changes are and WHY employees will benefit from implementing them. The details get left out, and that simple lack of communication derails the initiative. 

Corporate training programs and formal written policies and procedures are two of the most effective ways to bolster this critical flow of communication with an organization and prevent this human factor from derailing efforts to standardize operations and streamline business processes. By writing policies and procedures that employees can easily access and understand and by implementing them as part of your corporate training programs, you can radically improve the speed and effectiveness of positive change. 

Competing Initiatives 

The third most common error organizations fall into when trying to overcome change resistance, according to Mike Aroney’s article, “The Non-Technical Side of Reliability,” is Competing Initiatives. 

Competing initiatives are a classic problem, especially when it comes to multiple compliance, regulatory, and quality initiatives. Many of them overlap and compete for the same resources. Competing initiatives increase complications and confusion. 

Overcome Change Resistance with Operations Mapping™ 

At Comprose, we see this all the time as we work with organizations who are seeking to streamline business processes and clarify their business systems. One of the early benefits of the Operations Mapping approach is that it helps organizations identify areas of competing agendas and redundancies. 

One problem we often find is information silos pop up. Operations teams, compliance teams, quality teams, and corporate training programs are all separately involved in writing policies and procedures and maintaining redundant sets of documentation. As a result, there is no consistency or standardization and a lot of redundant effort and cost. 

By completing Operations Mapping analysis and standardizing on Zavanta software, our client organizations can drastically cut down on the impact of competing initiatives and break down the barriers that are preventing positive change. Please contact us to learn more about operations mapping or Zavanta.

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