One of the key elements of any change initiative is to create a sense of urgency.
Without urgency, two things tend to happen:
1. People tend to focus on things that are higher priority in the short term
2. Workers who do not fully agree with the new direction, or who have self interest in seeing the status quo prevail will chose to “wait out” the change initiative, believing that this too will blow over and they will have saved themselves all kinds of work.
You could name five other things, but in my consulting work I frequently see these two. You may correctly recognize these two issues as leadership issues. Strong leaders with experience in change know how to overcome these and other obstacles; however, I don’t fault the leader if they themselves have been rewarded for years for maintaining the status quo. Where would they get the experience leading change, or how would they keep their skills sharp if those skills are never needed? As a consultant I am at a distinct advantage because in working with different clients, I am able to practice these skills everyday. In my experience a leader who is good at managing stability is not as well suited for managing change without some assistance.
It is also easy to blame the workers for not wanting to change, but again, how often have they had to change? They must have received some reward for functioning the way they do, or they wouldn’t be doing things this way. True, the rewards may not be the officially sanctioned rewards identified by the business, but rather emotional rewards of some sort, but no less rewarding to the worker. Finding these hidden rewards and assessing their impact is challenging but it is part of creating change.
The real question boils down to why do people do what they do, and how can you get them to do something differently when the old way felt successful, and the new way represents an unknown leap of faith?