Resisting Technological Change: How to Identify and Overcome Resistance by Co-workers

A warrior formed from words associated with the concept of resistance

The good news: Your library is finally upgrading to the latest and greatest technology! The bad news: You are in charge of the upgrade and getting your co-workers to accept the change.

In any technological change, there is always the possibility of resistance from the people in your organization. The only way to make our projects successful is to get everyone on board with the change. With no direct authority over your co-workers, this could be the most difficult part of the change. Understanding why people are resistant and the types of resistance will help you overcome opposition and have a successful project.

The following two situations will help you see how and why people are resistant to change and how to overcome that resistance.

Example 1: So Many Questions

Situation: You upgraded the circulation desk computers and are explaining how to use Windows 10 to Jim, the circulation clerk. Jim keeps asking questions instead of listening to understand. Why did we upgrade? Does the library in Springfield have Windows 10? What did Bob say about this? Can we go back to Windows 7 if I don't like this?

The resistance: Asking questions is a form of resistance. Jim is probably feeling a bit uncertain about learning something new, and perhaps the change caught by surprise. Jim might be afraid to look incompetent in front of a patron, which is also making him resistant.

How to overcome: Planning ahead for this kind of resistance is the best option. Hold a training session before the upgrade so that Jim can become comfortable with the new operating system. Tell everyone that the upgrade is coming and explain why it will be beneficial. When people feel part of the process, they will be less likely to resist.

Example 2: Impracticality

Situation: Your organization decides to partner with an automated payroll system that requires the employees to clock in and out using an online portal on the computer. Susan, the reference desk associate, says that the system won't work in the "real world" of the library because of various issues.

The resistance: Stating that the change is impractical and won't work in the real world is a form of resistance. Susan may feel like she is being punished or that she is going to have to do more work by having to remember to clock in and out properly.

How to overcome: Discuss the importance of the project and the positive impact it can make on the entire organization. Tell her how John, the maintenance man, can now clock in at one branch and clock out at another. Tell her how this means that everyone can log in to the system at any time and get pay verifications and additional information. When a person knows about the positive effects on the entire organization, they may be able to quit resisting the technological change.

Awareness Is Key

Being aware of initial resistance and how to overcome or minimize that opposition is the key to leading successful projects at your library. When faced with resistance, it is always important to note that the person is resisting the change because of the way it affects them. They are not resisting the change because of you. Don't take resistance personally.

About the Author

Roger DonaldsonRoger Donaldson lives in Jackson, Ohio, and is the IT administrator and technical services supervisor at Jackson City Library. He has taken computer networking classes at the University of Rio Grande, has a bachelor's degree in history from Shawnee State University in Ohio, and is currently enrolled in the MLIS program at Kent State University. Before entering the library field, Roger worked in management positions at restaurants, production facilities, and a precious-metal refinery.

Image: johnhain / CC0