How tech consultants can manage resistance to change.

3rd March 2023

Blog post

In today's fast-paced business environment, organisations must adapt and evolve to keep up with changing times. And this is what you, as an SAP or tech consultant, are hired to help them do. 

However, implementing change successfully is easier said than done. 

You might enter a new consulting role bursting with great ideas for organisational transformation, but when you pitch them to stakeholders, they shut them down. 

According to a study by McKinsey, around 70% of organisational change efforts fail due to employee resistance and lack of support from management.

So how can you help stakeholders overcome resistance to change to get more people to support your ideas and trust your expertise?

In this blog, we'll guide technology and SAP consultants on managing stakeholder resistance to change with five effective change management strategies for securing stakeholder buy-in.

First, let's dive deeper into the meaning and risks of resistance to change management.

What is resistance to change?


Humans are creatures of habit.

It's the natural tendency of individuals to prefer the status quo, which they're familiar with, over any new changes.

And no matter how much your stakeholders talk about innovation, they're often not ready to accept or embrace the changes needed to transform their organisations. That's what we know as resistance to change. 

Why do stakeholders resist change?


There are several reasons why stakeholders may resist change in your organisation. Some of the most common causes include:

Fear of the unknown


Change brings uncertainty, and many stakeholders are afraid of the unknown. They're worried about the consequences of the change and what it means for their role, job security, and future.

Internal power struggles


Sometimes, internal power struggles between departments or individuals can hinder change. Change can be difficult to implement if there's a lack of cooperation or trust between departments.

Fear of failure 


Stakeholders may resist change if they believe it will increase the likelihood of failure. At the end of the day, the buck stops with them. So they may fear putting their name on something that doesn't work out. 

Lack of understanding


If stakeholders don't fully understand the reasons behind the proposed change or there is a lack of effective communication between the change leaders and stakeholders, they may resist it.

Previous negative experiences


If stakeholders have had negative experiences with change, they may be more resistant to it in the future. You might hear things like, "There was mayhem the last time we reconfigured our sales process. Let's keep it as is."

What are the risks of resistance to change?


Resistance to change can have several risks for your organisation. It can result in delays in the change process, increased costs, and decreased employee morale. Here are some of the risks associated with resistance to change:

Delayed transformations


When stakeholders resist change, they may struggle to adapt to new processes, systems or technologies. This may lead to inefficiencies, delays, and errors in their work, ultimately affecting their productivity and performance.

Loss of revenue 


If stakeholders resist changes necessary for your organisation to remain competitive, it may result in lost market share and revenue. This could affect the organisation's ability to sustain itself and remain viable in the long run. 

Increased conflict


Resistance to change can lead to conflict between stakeholders with opposing views or interests. This can create a toxic work environment, reduce collaboration and teamwork, and ultimately undermine your organisation's success. 

How can consultants help stakeholders embrace change?


If you're dealing with stakeholders who aren't ready for change, try these five change management strategies. With these approaches, you'll have them backing your ideas in no time!

#1 Understand pain points 


Take the time to form a deep understanding of the problems your organisation is facing from a stakeholder perspective. 

Once you have a clear idea of the specific frustrations your stakeholders are experiencing, whether it's messy communication or a lack of growth, you can ensure you're solving problems they actually care about. 

#2 Communicate effectively 

Communication is critical when it comes to managing resistance to change.

If you don't provide a clear and compelling vision of the change and how it benefits the organisation, gaining stakeholder buy-in will be much more complicated. 

As an SAP or tech consultant, you need to communicate the benefits of the change to stakeholders and involve them in the change process.

You should also address stakeholder feedback and concerns and provide regular updates on the progress of the change effort.

#3 Provide education and training


Education and training can help stakeholders develop the new skills required to understand the change you're proposing.

The more you can help stakeholders envision the changes, what's needed to make them, and the expected results, the better.

That's why you should provide adequate training, education, and support to stakeholders to help them adapt to the change.

#4 Address resistance head on


Try to anticipate resistance to change with your stakeholders and address it proactively. Think about the possible objections, concerns, and fears your stakeholders might have and develop strategies to manage them. 

For example, suppose one of your stakeholders is worried about productivity within specific roles affected by a finance module upgrade. In that case, you can assure that the change will not affect work output for over x amount of days and discuss the expected positive impact on productivity due to the upgrade.

#5 Offer support to senior leaders


Change initiatives require senior leaders' support to succeed, so try to involve these individuals as much as possible in the change process.

Senior leaders and management can provide direction, guidance, and support to employees and help address any resistance from key stakeholders. 

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Fight change resistance with these strategies today.


Stakeholder resistance is a tricky road to navigate, but not impossible. It's all about proactively managing stakeholder expectations, objections, and worries with effective communication and education. 

Follow our change management strategies above, and we know you'll encounter less pushback from stakeholders and employee resistance while helping to drive organisational change and long-term success.

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