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Change Management and Factors causing Resistance to change

In todays world, changes are inevitable and dealing with changes has become a part of everyday life, in and out of work. Changes are for individuals, society and organizations. The reasons and type of changes at work are well documented in literature. For example, at workplace changes can occur as a result of execution of a new corporate strategy or integrating an acquisition (Miles, 2010), as a result of intensifying competition, changes in communication media, supply chain networks, distribution chains, economical changes (Paton and McCalman, 2008), to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of a manufacturing or service system, increase quality and flexibility to meet customers demands (Chen and Tsai) or changes that occur due to changes in technology, attitudes and values of employees, goals and needs of the organization, resources and capabilities and laws, politics and government regulations that govern the functioning of the organization (Song, 2009). In its simplest terms, change is the process of intentionally moving from one defined state to another (Sun Microsystems, 2008). In other words, change management is the systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level. A more elaborate definition of change management would be, Activities involved in (1) Defining and instilling new values, attitudes, norms, and behaviors within an organization that support new ways of doing work and overcome resistance to change; (2) Building consensus among customers and stakeholders on specific changes designed to better meet their needs; and (3) Planning, testing, and implementing all aspects of the transition from one organizational structure or business process to another In his view, the primary goal of change management is to make organizations more effective, efficient and responsive to changing business conditions and is therefore crucial for an organizations survival. Organizational changes are influenced by organizational culture, source of change, social background of employees working in it, educational history, employment history, management style, problem ownership and experience of the organization involved in change (Patton and McCalman, 2008). Though changes are inevitable, organizational changes is

a complex task and are usually regarded with weariness by many. This is because they alter the status quo and upset the established way of doing things and sounds threatening technical and psychological perspective (Kotter and Schlesinger, 2008).

Impact of change process on employees


Change process exerts a drastic change on employees attitudes and behaviors at workplace. The organization and its employees are initially at a comfort stage where everything proceeds normally during which the need for change arises. This is followed by creating awareness among the employees regarding the need for change and its implementation which is met with denial or indifference from the employees involved in it. This is followed by the next stage, resistance since change is usually resisted by for many reasons. The organization then takes the necessary steps to educate the employees on the need and importance of change and engages them in the process. Once the employees start to realize its significance and impact, they overcome their earlier reservations and accept the changes. Then they become committed to achieving the change outcomes successfully and work towards it with enthusiasm. It was often noted that people and resistance from them play a very important role in change management. Negative attitude and skepticism among participants forms the biggest obstacle in change management while supportive attitude and openness to change will improve change management (David and Songer, 2009; Hiatt and Creasey, 2003). Roberts (2011) notes that where some people welcome change and view them as a challenge or opportunity to make things better, some just shudder at the mere thought of changes that alter their current status quo. In fact, Duffy (2003) characterized people based on their attitude or perceptions regarding change. Fearful are those who find change to be threatening and a means of making things worse, hopeful are those who find it encouraging, and confident are those who find it inspiring and take it as a challenge. Aiken and Keller (2009) in their article, goes on to discuss the factors that will and will not influence employees motivations towards change. They stress that taking into consideration employee feelings, thoughts and beliefs will help them identify the factors that drive their behavior towards change. Kurt Lewin introduced the term resistance in his field theory and later work on group dynamics (Lewin, 1947) Resistance is described as a combination of an individual reaction to frustration with strong group-induced forces

Resistance to change
Watson (1969) defines resistance as all the forces that contribute to stability in personality or in social systems. He adds that from the perspective of a manager or consultant these forces may seem an obstruction. Yet he continues by stating that From a broader and more inclusive perspective the tendencies to achieve, preserve, and to return to equilibrium are the most salutary. Thus, he sees resistance to change as a natural reaction of individuals and social systems originating from the need for a relatively stable situation. Since resistance to change is a natural reaction of people to anything that significantly interrupt their status quo. It has been found that change disrupts our expectations and produces a loss of the psychological equilibrium we value.

Causes of Resistance to Change


Many causes of resistance are listed in the publications. At the individual level we find psychological factors such as resentment, frustration, fear, feelings of failure, and low motivation preference for stability, habit, persistence, selective perception and retention, conservatism, tradition, self-distrust, and insecurity. It has been found that loss of control is the most important cause of resistance. Two of the authors comment on resistance at the organizational level. Watson discusses conformity to norms, systemic and cultural coherence, vested interests, sacred values, and rejection of outsiders. Mullins discusses organization culture, maintaining stability, investment in resources, past contracts and agreements, and threats to power or influence.

Driving factors of Change


Some driving factors have been identified that appreciate the change process and absence of which may resist and defy the successful implementation of change initiatives. They affect the change process directly or indirectly. These are divided into three main categories.
External factors: External factor are the

elements outside the organization that drives the changes.


Internal factors: Internal factors are the

elements within the organization that enforce

the organization to impose the changes


Personal factors: personal factors are the personality traits which makes people realize the need

for change, value the initiatives and combine forces with the change process. These driving factors also involve situational factors. Situational factors are different circumstances and background of change faced by an organization when it passes through the change process which involves cultural insights, amount of politicking, way of imposing change, level of resistance, level of information, extent of urgency and speed of change.

Factors that cause resistance to change


To implement the change is not simple process. There are many barriers that hinder the successful implementation of change. Resistance to change is one of the biggest barriers. .Some of the factors that resist the change are as follows: When the reason and purpose of change is not properly communicated misunderstandings arise which in turn causes lack of group coordination. Lack of motivation and non-compliance results when employees realize that the proposed change will not result in any improvement, Boredom task ambiguity, role ambiguity and lack of interest arise from improper communication of the reasons of change. Misconception about change initiatives and the consequences of the change directly affects employees behavior such as fear of loss of their jobs, new rules, different management structure and the change in their status and power in an organization. Fear of unknown increases the stress level among the employees to resist the change. Lack of trust creates misunderstanding between the initiators and implementers of change.

Change Management Model


Change management focus on the tactics and strategies that lead to successful implementation of change. The change management has been conceptualized by this model. This model proofs the fact that adaptation to repetitive change will definitely results in constructive production but simultaneously it can be destructive too. It doesnt mean that one should resist the change but it does mean that stability is required after too much optimistic changes in order to avoid disruption. It is Cleary seen from the figure that at certain level say A, stability or resistance to

change is required immediately for a short span of time after adaptation of the changes. In short, resistance to change is not always the bad for change process.

This model reveals the driving factors of change that lead to success or failure. Resistance to change/stability is required after adaptation of the change. People resist change because they fear the negative outcomes associated with the change.

Recommendations
Initiator and implementers of change should determine the level of resistance and organizational inertia and then adopt the strategies to manage resistance by education, participation, counseling, facilitation, negotiation or coercion. Give people time, to express their views, and support their decision making, providing coaching, counseling or information as suitable to achieve change successfully. Keep observing good change management practice, such as making time for informal discussion and feedback. Where the changes involves a loss, discover what will or might replace that loss - loss is easier to deal with if there is something to swap it. This will help alleviate potential fears. Build measurement systems by providing consequences in either case into the change process that tell people when they are succeeding or failing.

References:
1. Wayne H. Bovey, Andrew Hede Resistance to organizational change: the role of defence Mechanisms Journal of Managerial Psychology 16,7 2. Gillian Ragsdell (2000) journal of change management, Engineering- a paradigm shift. A holistic approach to organizatonal change management, www.emerald .library.com 3. Carol Steiner (2001) A role of individuality and mystery in managing change 4. Rafe Harwood article Models of Change and Overcoming Employee Resistance 5. Iles, V., & Cranfield, S. (2009). Developing Change Management Skills 6. Kilian M. Bennebroek Gravenhorst (2003) A Different View on Resistance to Change, Paper for Power Dynamics and Organizational Change IV Symposium at the 11th EAWOP Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, 14-17 May 2003 7. Return to Work and Psychological Issues, ACC Review (2006) Issue 8 8. Band, W.A. (1995), `Making peace with change, SecurityManagement, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 21-2. 9. Weinbach, R.W. (1984), ``Implementing change: insights and strategies of the supervisor, Social Work, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 282-6. 10. Scott, C.D. and Jaffe, D.T. (1988), ``Survive and thrive in times of change, Training and Development Journal, April, pp. 25-7.