How to Overcome Organizational Inertia


What is organizational inertia?

Organizational inertia is the tendency of an organization to react negatively to a strategic internal change by continuing in its previous state of business and approach to matters.

Organizational culture and structure are the main determinant factors of resistance to change in an organization. 

With the advent of the internet, the need for organizations to swiftly adapt to internal or external change is imminent. 46% of CIOs report culture being the biggest barrier to success, while 42% of CEOs at companies undergoing digital transformations expect their firms to undergo deep culture changes. (Gartner, 2018).

And since the 2019 pandemic, the need for these changes has kept increasing. Either by adopting remote work, returning to the office, changing how they sell or adopting modern video conferencing and sales tools.

Types of organizational inertia

Poor mindset and unstructured organization or company hierarchy are the major causes of organizational inertia. 

Cultural Inertia

To stop cultural inertia, a company needs to make the complicated processes and routines that its employees have grown accustomed to easier. Waste and inefficiency are often the results of complexity. This means cutting down on administrative costs, shutting down or outsourcing tasks that aren’t essential, and getting rid of projects that aren’t needed.

Recommended article: How To Implement A Performance Oriented Culture In An Organization

Insight inertia

Reluctance to change one’s mind based on new information. Insight inertia occurs when leaders fail to adapt to shifts in their organization’s external environment. When an organization’s leadership is ill-equipped to read, adapt to, and respond to the need for change from its internal and external environments due to inadequate information. 

However, most of the time, organizations may find themselves unprepared to meet these challenges- Hedberg and Ericson, 1997.

Psychological inertia

As important as it may be, members of the organization often fight change. The psychological inertia results from people in an organization resisting change, wanting to remain in BAU. “Change” is something difficult and threatening. That is why some employees try to defend their independence and resist those who have the authority to control their actions. (Godkin & Allcorn, 2008).

Recruiting talents with the right mindsets is the first step to fighting organizational inertia resulting from habits and psychology.

Recommended article: How To Attract And Retain Top Talent In Your Organization

Action or execution  inertia

Action inertia is the other part of organizational inertia. It occurs when management takes too long to respond to external events or when there is insufficient information to take a conscious action for the organization. Action inertia, on the other hand, happens after the environment has been analyzed and a survey of the environment has been conducted- Hedberg & Ericson, 1997.

Execution is the major challenge in action inertia.

Structural inertia

Structural inertia has to do with how an organization is structured and how it works. This kind of organizational inertia happens when an organization’s processes can’t be changed, getting approval is usually difficult, and the execution process is not properly structured.

Economic inertia

Economic inertia is predominant in small companies. The budget to execute the needed changes is minimal. Usually, organizations resist new systems or new solutions regarding the economy (Haag, 2014).

Causes of organizational inertia

Inability of organizations to react to the changes from the environments can be as a result of;

Poor organizational structure

Organizational structure is the major cause of organizational inertia. Management’s failure to manage their affairs leaves the employees working disorderly. Organizational hierarchy and reporting lines should be clearly highlighted during onboarding, periodically, and anytime there is a change in that regard.

Poor attitude to work

The mindset of staff is another reason why organizations as a whole appear stagnant. As a manager, it can be hard to figure out how to confront people who approach work with a “half glass empty” attitude. Employees might have bad days, but if this happens every day, you as a manager need to start dealing with it.

Negative attitudes at work include when an employee is always late, does their work carelessly, is lazy, is rude to other employees or the boss, spreads rumors, or does anything else that you think is bad for a positive workplace culture or environment.

Poor deadline culture

Deadlines help us work together toward a common goal and keep complicated projects with many steps on track. To tell what to expect. Deadlines make it clear what we need to do and when we need to do it. This means that we can get our work done without being confused.

Slow turn-around time

Effects of Organizational Inertia

Reputational damage

Poor time-to-market

Low level of productivity

Poor capacity to compete

Poor market positioning and return

How to overcome organizational inertia

Just like a body at rest tends to continue at rest. Organizations with poor culture and more find it difficult to move from an inertia position to a position of activity.

Positive Mindset

Workers should be trained to adopt a positive work mindset and work culture. The right work mindset to take more than just ownership but extreme ownership both for the outcome directly dependent on them and others. 

Reward great performers.

Expectational talents are always target smashers. They aspire to stand out in the environment and are disappointed when they are not appreciated or get the kind of competition they expected. They move to a new environment that will aid their career growth.

Rewarding great performers stirs up healthy competition, which is needed for individuals to continue exceeding expectations.

Performance management and KPIs

Getting your employees to make a change is the most important step in overcoming organizational inertia. Explore the services of trainers in performance management. These industries and companies will help you set key performance metrics (KPIs) and hold individuals accountable. 

Properly structure your organizational hierarchy.

Another organizational performance crusher is poor structure. Just like a house with a poor structure can barely stand, an organization with a poor structure can hardly make progress. 

Properly structuring an organization’s hierarchy will help the employees to understand their line of command and also in prompt decision-making. 

Recommended article: Reasons Why Your Sales Team Keep Underperforming


Organizational unproductiveness can make organizations constantly underperform, lose out in the market, and eventually disappear out of business. Proper organizational structure, reward of great talents, and positive mindset, amongst others, are the keys to overcoming organizational inertia. Are you ready to take your sales team and organization to great proactive achievers.

SalesRuby Limited sales training provides your salespeople with more than just a positive mindset and culture. We train your salespeople to be emotionally intelligent and equip them with the tools and solutions to enable you to achieve your business goals.

Sales Academy: Train Your Sales Team Perform Effectively


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Executive Revenue Insights 2023: Towards Exceptional Revenue Performance

Fill the form to download for free!


Sales Manager or Head of HR or CEO
Claim your 40% discount

Speak To A SalesRuby Consultant

Which of our services do you need?