TrappedHere’s a little something for you to think about over the weekend. Those resisters and naysayers in your school organization (or corporation or nonprofit or …)? You know, the ones that are pushing back against your change initiative? The ones that you like to complain about because ‘the train is moving’ and they’re not ‘getting on board?’ What if they’re right?

10 Reasons Your Educators Are Resisting Your Change Initiative

  1. Surprise, Surprise! Decisions or requests that are sprung on administrators and teachers without notice.
  2. Excess Uncertainty. Not knowing enough about the change will result in the “walking off a cliff blindfolded” syndrome.
  3. Loss of Control. Feeling that changes are being done to, rather than done by, those affected.
  4. Loss of Routine. Concerns that change will require administrators and teachers to question familiar (and comfortable) routines and habits.
  5. We’ve Seen This Before. Expectation that the initiative is temporary and it will stay incomplete, meaning the best strategy is to lay low and not contribute to success.
  6. Loss of Face. Change implies that the former way of doing things was wrong. Some administrators and teachers may feel embarrassed in front of their peers or staff.
  7. Concerns About Future Competence. Educators can question their ability to be effective after a change: Can I do it? How will I do it? Will I make it in the new situation?
  8. Ripple Effects. Change in one area can disrupt other projects or activities, even ones outside of work.
  9. More Work. Organizational change often increases workloads.
  10. Sometimes the Threat Is Real. Change often creates real winners and losers, and people worry about where they will end up when the project is complete.

Additional thoughts

As a school leader, if you want your change initiatives to be successful, you MUST address these issues. More important than whether you think you’ve addressed them is whether the resisters believe that you’ve addressed them. It’s what is in their heads and hearts, not yours, that’s important.

What else might we add to this list? I’d probably add:

  • Under-Resourcing. The initiative is not accompanied by sufficient resources (e.g., time, support, funding, training) to actually make it happen. So why should we bother?
  • Innovation Fatigue. Too many simultaneous initiatives. [this contributes to both 5 and 9]


FYI, the “top 10” list comes from IBM’s online Change Toolkit for educators, which is built on the work of Rosabeth Moss Kanter. The Change Toolkit is a powerful resource for school leaders who are interested in better facilitating organizational change. Learn more and sign up for a free account!

Image credit: It’s a No!