CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Why is it inevitable? And why do people resist change? With example from Tanzania perspective.

Shillingi, Venance
E-mail Dar es salaam – Tanzania



Change is defined as pervasive influence, where all aspects are subject to continual change of one form or another (Mullins, 2005, p.909). He continues to argue that, change is an inescapable part of both social and organizational life. The concept of organizational change is in regard to organization-wide change, as opposed to smaller changes such as adding a new person, modifying a program, and the like. Examples of organization-wide change might include a change in mission, restructuring operations (e.g., restructuring to self-managed teams, layoffs, etc.), new technologies, mergers, major collaborations, and rightsizing. Some experts refer to organizational transformation. Often this term designates a fundamental and radical reorientation in the way the organization operates. The decision of Mzumbe University to restructure its operation by establishing Dar es Salaam and Mbeya Campus is an example of organizational change. Also, Local Government Reform Program (MABORESHO) and Public Sector Reform Program are just two notable reforms which are taking place in the country. Change in organizational strategy is an attempt to alter the organization’s alignment with its environment. Organization change might also focus on any of the basic components of organization structure or on the organization whole design. Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, president of The United republic of Tanzania, for instance, recently reorganized the management hierarchy in his new government after general election of 2005. He drew up a new organization chart, he created new ministries and new appointed ministers and permanent secretaries. All these were done in order to have a good management team which can meet the goals and objectives under CCM Manifesto of 2005. The same applied when he decided to change CCM secretariat when he was elected as CCM chairman, where Secretary General and other key figures were replaced by new one.



The Nature and Causes of Resistance to change

Employees resist change because they have to learn something new. In many cases there is not a disagreement with the benefits of the new process, but rather a fear of the unknown future and about their ability to adapt to it. De Jag er (2001) argues that, ‘Most people are reluctant to leave the familiar behind. We are all suspicious about the unfamiliar; we are naturally concerned about how we will get from the old to the new, especially if it involves learning something new and risking failure” (p. 24). Further more, Folger & Skarlicki (1995) investigated resistance to change as a response to the treatment employees receive in the change process. Specifically they focus on resentment-based resistance -reactions by disgruntled employees regarding the perceived unfairness of the change. They claim that “resent-based resistance behaviors, which can range from subtle acts of non-cooperation to industrial sabotage, are often seen by the perpetrators as subjectively justifiable - a way to “get even” for perceived mistreatment and a way for employees to exercise their power to restore perceived injustice” (p. 36). This argument is relevant in Tanzania, for instance, many public owned organization which were sought to be privatized, had many of these signs of this nature, the good example are Tanzania Railway Cooperation and The National Bank of Commerce, whom their employees with their respective Trade Unions conducted various industrial actions to resist the expected privatization which they sought will not accommodate their interests.



As organization encounter many different forces for change. The general environment is parted into different dimensions: the international, the economic, the technological, the socio-cultural and the political-legal dimension. This section therefore, examines the forces that create the need for change. Awareness of these forces can help managers determine when they should consider implementing an organizational change. There are both external and internal forces, which are discussed hereunder:3.1 External Forces External forces for change originate outside the organization. Because these forces have global effects, they may cause an organization to question the essence of what business it is in and the process by which products and services are produced. Robbins, (1990) argues that, organizations are open system, depends on their environment, and because the environment does not stand still, organization must develop internal mechanism to facilitate planned change. As he continue to argue that, organization that persist without change, eventually find themselves running or going out of the business.


There are four key external forces for change: demographic characteristics, technological advancements, social and political pressures. Each component is discussed below:3.1.1 Demographic Characteristics The workforce is more diverse and there is a business imperative to effectively manage diversity. So, Organizations need to effectively manage diversity if they are to receive maximum contribution and commitment from employees..

3.1.2 Technological Advancements Because of the rapid rate of all technological innovation, technological changes are becoming increasingly important to many organizations. One major area of change involves equipment, thus a change in work processes or work activities may be necessary. Both manufacturing and service organizations are increasingly using technology as a means to improve productivity and market competitiveness. Manufacturing companies, for instance, have automated their operations with computerized application. This highly technical process attempts to integrate product design with product planning, control, and operations ( Also, the service sector in Tanzania, are now days using office automation, where Office automation consists of a host of computerized technologies that are used to obtain, store, analyze, retrieve, and communicate information; the good examples is the use Automation Teller Machine by most if not all banks in Tanzania including The National Microfinance Bank Limited. 3.1.3 Social factor Socially, nearly all of the issues in change efforts revolve around people. You can change technologies, but unless people support the new systems, problems are bound to crop up. Because of this, the best way to bring about change is to first gain the support of the people who will be affected by it, and the people whose support you need to implement it. No matter how good a change seems on paper, if nobody will support it, it’s probably not a good idea.

3.1.4 Political Pressures Political events can create substantial change. For example, the shift from socialism economy to liberalization of economy in Tanzania created many new business opportunities. Although it is difficult for organizations to predict changes in political forces, many organizations hire lobbyists and consultants to help them detect and respond to social and political changes.



Internal Forces

Internal forces for change come from inside the organization. These forces may be subtle, such as low morale, or can manifest in outward signs, such as low productivity and conflict. Internal forces for change come from both human resource problems and managerial behavior/decisions. 3.2.1 Human Resource Problems/Prospects Another area of organization change has to do with human resources. An organization might decide to change the skill-level of its work force and the level of performance of its workers. Perceptions and expectations, attitudes and values are also a common focus on organizational change. These problems stem from employee perceptions about how they are treated at work and the match between individual and organization needs and desires. Dissatisfaction is a symptom of an underlying employee problem that should be addressed. Unusual or high levels of absenteeism and turnover also represent forces for change. Organizations might respond to these problems by using the various approaches to job design, by implementing realistic job previews, by reducing employees’ role conflict, overload, and ambiguity, and by removing the different stressors. Prospects for positive change stem from employee participation and suggestions 3.2.2 Managerial Behavior/Decisions Excessive interpersonal conflict between managers and their subordinates is a sign that change is needed. Both the manager and the employee may need interpersonal skills training, or the two individuals may simply need to be separated. For example, one of the parties might be transferred to a new department. Inappropriate leader behaviors such as inadequate direction or support may result in human resource problems requiring change. Leadership training is one potential solution for this problem. Inequitable reward systems are additional forces for change ( 4.0 LEVELS OF CHANGE Mullins, (2005) argues that, change can be studied in terms of its effects at individual, group, organization, society, national and international level. However, because of its pervasive nature, change at any one level is interrelated with changes at other level, and it is difficult to study one area of change in Isolation. For instance, when NMB decided to embark on using new modern banking technology, it also embarked on training its staff on how to use that technology and its importance in their day to day activities; otherwise that technology could not help if employees could not support it or if that technology could not be customer friendly. Also, with the same perspective, Hersey, (2006) discussed levels of change by identifying four levels which are: - knowledge change, attitude change, individual


behavior change and group or organizational performance change. In respect to knowledge change, he argued that, change in knowledge tend to be easiest to make, can occur as a result of reading an article or healing news form a respected person, on the other hand, attitude change refer to emotional change in a positive or negative. The good example in this area, were seminars and training which were conducted to the heads of departments of Bukoba Municipal Council before implementation of Local Government Reform Program (MABORESHO), where the major emphasize was to make them aware on the importance of the program and build positive attitude towards the program, hence made easier for them to implement the said program. Like Hersey, Robbins,(1990) commented on individual and group change, he argued that, at individual level, the change attempts is to affect an employee behavior, through either training, socialization and counseling as strategies the management can use when they target at individual change. On the case of group change, he argued that, interventions such as sensitivity training, survey feedback and process consultation are some of strategies the management can use if it targets to group change. For instance, the Local Government Reform Program where Bukoba Municipal Council is inclusive, where the sought change is to move from the existing ten departments to eight departments, in this regard, heads of department were incorporated in the program to suggest new organization structure, where related departments are to be merged and new departments with unique functions are to be established. The council is now in eighth stage among eleven stages of organization structure in local government authorities. Also, this strategy on group change and individual behaviour change, was highly used by Rabo bank when it acquired the mandate of running The National Microfinance Bank Limited (NMB), where various seminar and workshop were conducted to key managerial staff, the new heads visited almost all branches of NMB to talk with employees on their problem and problems of NMB and allowed employees to suggest solutions required, at the same times Trade union leaders who were the threats to the new management, were taken to Netherlands for familiarization, the major issue was to win trust of the workers and trade union leaders of NMB to accept changes and hence participate in running the company smoothly.



There two types of change according to Robbins, (1990), are unplanned change and planned change. 5.1 Unplanned Change Unplanned change, is that change which can just happen, for instance, when managing director of a certain company decides to resign immediately, is a type of unplanned change to the Board of Directors, as they are forced to find another Managing

Director as early as possible to run their company. The good example in this type of change in Tanzania, is when recently it was written in news papers that, the Managing Director of TANESCO resigned from his post after experiencing external pressure, although later it was unclear whether his resignation was accepted or not, otherwise this could indicate more changes to come on the structure of TANESCO if new Managing Director could have been appointed( The Guardian, 24th November, 2007). 5.2 Planned Change Planned change on the other hand, is those changes which the organization knows about; where the objective is to keep the organization current and viable. Mullins, (2005) argues that, most planned change is triggered by the need to respond to new challenges or opportunities presented by the external environment, or in anticipation of the need to cope with potential future problems. It represents an intentional attempt to improve, in some important way, the operational effectiveness of the organization. The vivid example of this change in Tanzania is the case of NMB, when it decided to introduce ATM’s as an opportunity to retain its customers in most towns who were shifting to other banks which were using ATM’s in their operations, and also changes undertaken to change organization structure of various local authorities including Bukoba Municipal Council, where it changed from having ten departments to the new organization structure with eight departments. 6.0 MODELS AND DYNAMICS OF PLANNED CHANGE 6.1 Lewin’s Change Model

In the 1940’s, social psychologist Kurt Lewin first introduced the idea of managing and removing “resistance” to proposed changes occurring within organizations. His early work focused on the aspects of individual behavior that must be addressed in order to bring about effective organizational change. Morgan (1997) states that: Lewin suggested that any potential change is resisted by forces in the opposite direction. The idea is similar to the dialectical principle that everything generates its opposite. But within Lewin’s framework, the forces tend to be external to the change, holding situations in states of dynamic equilibrium. His solution was to advocate that successful change rests in “unfreezing” an established equilibrium by enhancing the forces driving change, or by reducing or removing resisting forces, and then “refreezing” in a new equilibrium state (p. 294). Before reviewing each stage, it is important to highlight the assumptions that underlie this model (cited from The change process involves learning something new, as well as discontinuing current attitudes, behaviors, or organizational practices.


Change will not occur unless there is motivation to change. This is often the most difficult part of the change process. People are the hub of all organizational changes. Any change, whether in terms of structure, group process, reward systems, or job design, requires individuals to change. Resistance to change is found even when the goals of change are highly desirable. Effective change requires reinforcing new behaviors, attitudes, and organizational practices. Therefore, it is now possible to consider the three stages of change of Lewin’s Change Model . 6.1.1 Unfreezing The focus of this stage is to create the motivation to change. In so doing, individuals are encouraged to replace old behaviors and attitudes with those desired by management. Managers can begin the unfreezing process by disconfirming the usefulness or appropriateness of employees’ present behaviors or attitudes (Robbins, 1990).

6.1.2 Changing Because change involves learning, this stage entails providing employees with new information, new behavioral models, or new ways of looking at things. The purpose is to help employees learn new concepts or points of view. Role models, mentors, experts, benchmarking the company against world-class organizations, and training are useful mechanisms to facilitate change (Robbins, 1990). 6.1.3 Refreezing Change is stabilized during refreezing by helping employees integrate the changed behavior or attitude into their normal way of doing things. This is accomplished by first giving employees the chance to exhibit the new behaviors or attitudes. Once exhibited, positive reinforcement is used to reinforce the desired. Additional coaching and modeling also are used at this point to reinforce the stability of the change (Robbins, 1990) 7.0 RESISTANCE TO CHANGE Resistance is any conduct that serves to maintain the status quo in the face of pressure to alter the status quo. According to Dent & Goldberg (1999), individuals aren’t really resisting the change, but rather they may be resisting the loss of status, loss of pay, or loss of comfort. They claim that, “it is time that we dispense with the phrase resistance to change and find a more useful and appropriate models for describing what the phrase has


come to mean - employees are not wholeheartedly embracing a change that management wants to implement” (p. 26). In today’s economy, change is all-pervasive in organizations. It happens continuously, and often at rapid speed. Because change has become an everyday part of organizational dynamics, employees who resist change can actually cripple an organization (Mullins, 2005). Resistance is an inevitable response to any major change. Individuals naturally rush to defend the status quo if they feel their security or status is threatened. Folger & Skarlicki (1999) claim that “organizational change can generate skepticism and resistance in employees, making it sometimes difficult or impossible to implement organizational improvements” (p. 25). 7.1 Why People Resist Change in the Workplace

Now days, Companies, government department and institutions, whether public or private, are no longer have a choice, they must change to survive. Unfortunately, people tend to resist change. It is not easy to change an organization, let alone an individual. This puts increased pressure on management to learn the subtleties of change. Managers and employees view change differently: top level management sees change as an opportunity to strengthen the business and to advance in their career, but for many employees, including middle managers, change is never sought after or welcomed; it is disruptive and intrusive. The following are 10 reasons (cited from best describe why some people resist change:7.1.1 Fear of failure Resistance to change may be rooted in fear. During periods of change, some employees may feel the need to cling to the past because it was a more secure, predictable time. If what they did in the past worked well for them, they may resist changing their behavior out of fear that they will not achieve as much in the future. 7.1.2 Creatures of habit Doing things in the same routine, predictable manner is comfortable. Asking people to change the way they operate or think is asking them to move outside their comfort zone. “We’ve always done it this way, so why do we need to change?” becomes the rallying cry for people who have difficulty changing their routines. In some cases, employees may ignore or deny the change simply because it requires them to experience something beyond their normal method of operation.


7.1.2 No obvious need Some employees may see a change only from the perspective of the impact it has on them and their particular jobs. Not seeing the big picture, they may fail to recognize the positive impact of the change on the organization as a whole. Thus they may find the change disruptive and totally unnecessary. Their attitude may be, “If things have been working well all this time, why do we need to change?” or, in other words, “If it aren’t broke, why fix it?” 7.1.4 Loss of control Familiar routines help employees develop a sense of control over their work environment. They feel they know what works and what doesn’t, and this makes them confident about their contribution to the organization. Being asked to change the way they operate may make employees feel powerless and confused. 7.1.5 Concern about support system Employees operating within predictable routines know their support system will back them up during challenging times. Changing the organizational structures may shake their confidence in their support system. They may worry about working for a new supervisor, with new employees or on unfamiliar projects because they fear that if they try and fail, there will be no one there to support them. 7.1.6 Closed mind Some employees seem to have the attitude, “Please don’t confuse me with any facts or supporting documentation about this change—I’ve already made up my mind!” Employees with this attitude approach the change process with their minds firmly made up, muttering, “No way!” during discussions and explanations of the future. 7.1.7 Unwillingness to learn Some employees, hesitant to try new routines, express an unwillingness to learn anything new. They may say, “I already know all that I need to know.” Like resistant employees who have already made up their minds that the change won’t be productive, employees reluctant to learn something new impede the organization’s growth and adaptation to change. They also hinder their own personal growth and development. 7.1.8 Fear that the new way may not be better If things have been going well, some employees may resist change because they fear that the change will not result in improvement. Focusing only on their part of the operation, they fail to realize that change is needed in order for the organization to stay competitive. They may resist forward movement because they are satisfied with the way things are going. Their current status is quite sufficient, and they wish to maintain business as usual. 7.1.9 Fear of the unknown Employees may resist change simply because it is something unfamiliar. Not knowing much about the specifics of the change, they may imagine a worst case scenario,


which can be very scary. They let fear of the unknown become their rationale for not giving the change a chance. These employees may acknowledge that a problem exists and agree that a change might improve it. However, they worry that the proposed change might actually make things worse! Their fear causes them to place roadblocks in the movement toward change. 7.1.10 Fear of personal impact Viewing change from a personal standpoint, some employees may respond by asking how the change will benefit them directly. Will it make their job easier? Will they have to work harder? Will the change put their job security in jeopardy? Will the change force them to work with different people or learn a new job? Therefore, uncertainty is the biggest of employee resistance to change. In the face of impending change, employees may become anxious and nervous. They may worry about their ability to meet new job demands, they may think that their job security is threatened, or they may simply dislike ambiguity. For instance, at the Time when TRC was targeted for privatization, employee extended a confusing takeover battle, and during the entire time, employees were nervous about the impending change (privatization), were even associated with sabotage of a corporation by acceleration Train accident which happened near Dodoma few years past and killed many people. 8.0 UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

It is important for managers to learn to manage resistance because failed change efforts are costly. Costs include decreased employee loyalty, lowered probability of achieving corporate goals, a waste of money and resources, and difficulty in fixing the failed change effort. Involving people from the beginning, clearly explaining the reasons for the change, having a clear strategy, direction, and vision, and respecting the viewpoints of other people are all parts of the process. Using strategic measurement can also be a way of building support. Starting out with a problem, and working with other people to come up with a solution, can be far more effective than proposing a specific solution and trying to rationalize it. People often do not like change they cannot control. However, if they lead or have a substantial influence on change, they are more likely to embrace it ( 9.0 OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO CHANGE Employee resistance to change is a complex issue facing management in the complex and ever-evolving organization of today. The process of change is ubiquitous,

and employee resistance has been identified as a critically important contributor to the failure of many well-intend and well-conceived efforts to initiate change within the organization. To close those gaps, managers should know how to face and overcome resistance to change. Although there are no certain solutions, several techniques at least have the potential to decrease or even eliminate this resistance. Before recommending specific approaches to overcome resistance, there are three key conclusions that should be kept in mind (cited in First, an organization must be ready for change. Just as a table must be set before you can eat, so must an organization be ready for change before it can be effective. It is better to use survey to evaluate if a company is ready to undertake a change effort. Second, organizational change is less successful when top management fails to keep employees informed about the process of change. Third, employees’ perceptions or interpretations of a change significantly affect resistance. Employees are less likely to resist when they perceive that the benefits of a change overshadow the personal costs. At a minimum then, managers are advised to (1) provide as much information as possible to employees about the change, (2) inform employees about the reasons/rationale for the change, (3) conduct meetings to address employees’ questions regarding the change, and (4) provide employees the opportunity to discuss how the proposed change might affect them. 10.0 POSITIVE RESISTANCE TO CHANGE Managers often perceive resistance negatively, and employees who resist are viewed as disobedient and obstacles the organization must overcome in order to achieve the new goals. However in certain instances, employee resistance may play a positive and useful role in organizational change. Insightful and well-intended debate, criticism, or disagreement do not necessarily equate to negative resistance, but rather may be intended to produce better understanding as well as additional options and solutions. De Jager (2001) claims that, “the idea that anyone who questions the need for change has an attitude problem, is simply wrong, not only because it discounts past achievements, but also because it makes us vulnerable to indiscriminate and ill-advised change’ (p. 25). Piderit (2000) points out that what some managers may perceive as disrespectful or unfounded resistance to change might be motivated by an individual’s ethical principles or by their desire to protect what they feel is the best interests of the organization. Employee resistance may force management to rethink or reevaluate a proposed change initiative. It also can act as a as a gateway or filter, which can help


organizations select from all possible changes the one that is most appropriate to the current situation. According to De Jager (2001), “resistance is simply a very effective, very powerful, very useful survival mechanism” (p. 26). Folger & Skarlicki (1999) claim that, “not all interventions are appropriate as implemented -the organization might be changing the wrong thing or doing it wrong. Just as conflict can sometimes be used constructively for change, legitimate resistance might bring about additional organizational change” (p. 37). 11.0 TRANSITION AND TRANSITIONAL PHENOMENA IN RESPECT TO ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE The process of change is simply moving from the current way of doing things to a new and different way of doing things. Bridges (1991) believes that it is not the actual change that individuals resist, but rather the transition that must be made to accommodate the change. He states, “change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, and the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal. Unless transition occurs, change will not work” (p. 3-4). Morgan (1997) suggests that an understanding of the theory of transitional phenomena would provide valuable insight into organizational change, and why it might be met with employee resistance. This theory “suggests that change will occur spontaneously only when people are prepared to relinquish what they hold dear for the purpose of acquiring something new or can find ways of carrying what they value in the old into the new” (p. 238). In the event that it does not exist naturally, it may be necessary for the organization to create transitional phenomena. This would help in the “letting go” of the current way and moving forward to the new way. Morgan adds, bringing about organization change “can rarely be done effectively by “selling” or imposing a “change package,” an ideology or a set of techniques. The theory of transitional phenomena suggests that in situations of voluntary change the person doing the changing must be in control of the process” (p. 238). 12.0 ORGANIZATION CHANGE MONITORING All change efforts are results-oriented - leaders implement change to realize new, different and better results. If the change is not monitored, effectiveness cannot be measured. Monitoring is particularly crucial during change processes due to the many


forces that will challenge, resist or disrupt efforts. Since organizations must continue to operate day-to-day while undergoing change initiatives, the complexity of change is increased. The key to monitoring change effectively is to stay in touch with the people. Ask questions, demonstrate concern for their welfare and goal achievement and commit to do whatever is necessary to make the change successful. Leaders who can do this while continuing to practice great leadership skills will attune themselves to how the changes are progressing and react quickly with any required adjustments ( 13.0 CONCLUDING REMARKS In many cases, vast amounts of resources are expended by organizations to adjust employees to a new way of achieving desired goals. The natural propensity for individuals to “defend the status quo” presents a set of challenges that management must overcome in order to bring about desired change. Management must also seriously take into account and consider the myriad of problems that may result if they are not responsive to issues of resistance in the workplace. In order to facilitate a smooth transition from the old to the new, organizations must be competent in effective change management. The process of change management consists of getting of those involved and affected to accept the introduced changes as well as manage any resistance to them. Although most people feel comfortable with minor changes, no one can live and work by yesterday’s reality. Leaders must enlist the support of other organizational members to identify the right changes to make, credibly communicate these changes throughout the organization, provide resources to support the changes and allow enough time and flexibility for the changes to take place. With the widespread commitment of people throughout the organization, change efforts will succeed. Generally, whatever the changes inside an organization might be, and whatever the reasons that made these changes necessary, a good way of implementing the changes successfully is for a manager to treat the participation and the communication with his employees as integral parts of the change process. References Bridges, W. (1991). Managing transitions: making the most of change. Reading, MA: Wesley Publishing Company. De Jager, P. (2001, May/Jun). Resistance to change: a new view of an old problem.


The Futurist, 24-27. Dent, E. & Goldberg, S. (1999, March). Challenging “resistance to change.” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 25-41. Folger, R. & Skarlicki, D. (1999). Unfairness and resistance to change: hardship as mistreatment, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 35-50. Hersey, p. et al (2006) Management of Organizational Behavior; Leading Human Resources; 8th Ed, New Delhi; Prentice-Hall of India. Kotter, J. P., & Schlesinger, L.A. (1979). Choosing strategies for change. Harvard Business Review 106-114. Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Piderit, S.K. (2000). Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence: A multidimensional view of attitudes toward an organizational change. Academy of Management -794. A, 783 Robbins, S.P (1990) Organization Theory; Structure, Design and Application; 3rd ed; London; Prentice Hall International Inc.

News papers The Guardian, Friday 24th November, 2007