Five Reasons Developers Resist Change: Page 2

Five responses to handle the five reasons -- but yes, sometimes developers are simply change resistant.
Posted January 22, 2013

Eric Spiegel

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3) Fear: Fear may be the number one reason people shun change. I actually wrote about fear leading to change resistance this past summer where a developer tried to introduce Scala as a new development language. The rest of the team (including the manager) was afraid of this change.

The team lacked the self-confidence to even try a new language because they were so ingrained in what they already were comfortable with.

Fear can be overcome by knowledge and building confidence. If a developer has been working with one technology for many years, a manager cannot expect to bring in a new technology and expect every developer to embrace it with open arms. I can remember being excited about a new language being introduced but also being scared. What if I just didn’t get it? Would I lose my job?

A manager should slowly introduce a new language and provide education resources for the team to come up to speed. And talk to developers about their fears and what can be done to assuage them. Look for other career options for developers who just don’t take to the new language.

4) Mistrust: At the start of this article I pointed out how past history of failed changes can lead to a high degree of skepticism. This is basically a mistrust of management to make sound decisions.

In my case, the new director was making change for the sake of making his mark. Yes, the existing organization needed improvement, but he should have taken his time – again, another example of management jumping the gun.

If you are a new leader in an organization, before you announce a change, take time to build trust. Ask for the staff’s feedback, have round-table discussions – do the research! And only then do you announce the change, using carefully crafted communications that explains the research completed and the fact-based approach to making the change.

5) Just Because: Well, the fact is many developers just don’t like the idea of change. They may simply be difficult people to deal with. No matter how well you educate them and proactively communicate, they will never accept change.

Kind of like far left Democrats trying to win over far right Republicans. It’s not going to happen because both believe they are right and the other is wrong. You may find developers feel so strongly about a particular technology that they are not willing to budge and are not open to reason.

If your best efforts to avoid the other change resistance factors are not sinking in, don’t waste too much time on these folks. Instead, focus on winning over the majority of the staff. Then consider it a victory and move on.

When it’s all said and done, don’t try to be funny or cute. Do the hard work. Research, educate and communicate!

If you aren’t smart about change, then your next change could be to a new job.

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