Sabotage of change initiative

Darryl Bachmeier
Mar 16, 2019

A change initiative may face many possibilities of resistance, among the greatest possible resistor is sabotage. Sabotage, occurs when someone tries to make the change fail on purpose and it happens more often than you think.

In any change initiative there can be many stakeholders involved. The change agent must perform a stakeholder analysis to determine all those who have a stake in the initiative and what their level of power toward the impact of the project. The change agent must be aware of the motivations of each of the stakeholders. The knowledge of each stakeholder’s interest in the project, as well as the power they can provide. The key stakeholders are those with great power and interest as they can change the initiative on a whim.

A disgruntled employee who may have low power and low interest can be a thorn in the initiative, the change agent must be quick to identify if the concerns of the employee is justified or if it is the employee’s own behaviors that are impacting the project.

All stakeholders have their own interests, in general most do not like to acquire additional responsibilities without receiving any added benefits or perceived value. Motivations include power struggles, job security and resistance to change. Benefits could be in the form of added salary or bonuses, or could be as simple as the introduction of a new title. Value from the consumer perspective could be new features or decreased costs.

From the higher levels in the organization those in positions of power wield great influence and can quickly set a change effort to ruin if they feel that their opinions are not being heard. A power struggle can begin between those championing for change and those against it. Company resources may be limited and if there is a competing project certain managers may wish it to fail just so they can get the resources they need.

Outsourced work to other organizations or contractors also includes risks to the change effort. If these external organizations are unreliable or unethical, work given to them can have cost overruns or be of poor quality that it impacts the impressions of end users and therefore convince them that the change should be terminated. Defence against sabotage include good communication, senior support and remaining positive.

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