One of the most important tasks of managers is to facilitate changes smoothly. Change is always inevitable but so is resistance to change. It is basic human nature of people to try and keep their methods and customs constant. This is where change management comes into play. An organization always must strive to adapt to change if it wants to be successful.
Introduction to Resistance to Change
Change is basically a variation in pre-existing methods, customs, and conventions. Since all organizations function in dynamic environments, they constantly have to change themselves to succeed.
Change management contains several strategies that help in facilitating the smooth adoption of such changes.
One of the most important facets of change management is resistance to change. It is simply human nature to counteract any changes and maintain the status quo.
But since change is inevitable, instead of resisting changes the organization must try to implement them with minimum hassle.
Resistance to change may be either overt or implicit. For example, employees may react to a change in policies with outright rejection and protests.
They may even refrain from showing disapproval expressly, but they may do so implicitly by not accepting changes. Managers must understand these problems and help the employees adopt these changes smoothly.
Reasons for Resistance to Change
In order to facilitate transitions and changes, managers must first be able to identify the exact reason for resistance. Such resistance to change is common in all organizations. The following are some common reasons for this:
- People generally find it convenient to continue doing something as they have always been doing. Making them learn something new is difficult.
- Changes always bring about alterations in a person’s duties, powers, and influence. Hence, the people to whom such changes will affect negatively will always resist.
- People who are adamant on maintaining customs instead of taking risks and doing new things will always resist changes. This can happen either due to their insecurities or lack of creativity and will.
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Types of Resistance to Change
Resistance to change may be of the following three types:
a) Logical resistance: This kind of resistance basically arises from the time people genuinely take to adapt and adjust to changes. For example, when computers became common, accountants had to shift from accounting on paper to digital accounting. This naturally takes time to adapt to.
b) Psychological resistance: Under this category, the resistance occurs purely due to mental and psychological factors. Individuals often resist changes for reasons like fear of the unknown, less tolerance to change, dislike towards the management, etc.
c) Sociological resistance: This resistance relates not to individuals but rather to the common values and customs of groups. Individuals may be willing to change but will not due to peer pressure from the group they are members of. For example, if a workers’ union protests against new management policies, all workers face pressure to protest together.
While change will almost always face resistance, it is certainly possible to overcome it. Managers must strive to help their employees adjust to changes and facilitate new variations in functioning.
Firstly, managers must be able to convince workers that the changes they are proposing are necessary. They should show how the workers and the organization itself will benefit from these changes.
Secondly, the management can keep the following considerations in mind to implement changes smoothly:
- Changes should not happen in one go because it is easier to implement them in stages.
- Changes should never cause security problems for the workers.
- Managers must consider the opinions of all employees on whom the proposed change will have an effect.
- If managers portray leadership by first adapting to the changes themselves, employees are less likely to resist.
- Sufficient prior training of employees can help them accept changes with confidence.
Importance of Participation
It is always a good idea to encourage the participation of employees when managers plan for changes. Since changes are meant for the employees, they must have a say in the planning process. Such participation will make them less likely to resist the implementation of changes.
The management can organize small informal meetings or conferences with the employees for this. Managers should explain all the relevant details of the proposed changes. Employees must be encouraged to offer their opinions as well.
Solved Questions Resistance to Change
Question: State the missing word in the following sentences.
(1) Instead of implementing changes in one go, it is easier to introduce them in __________.
(2) __________ resistance arises from genuine and natural reasons of adaptability.
(3) Resistance may be either __________ or __________ depending on how employees react.
(4) Peer pressure is an example of __________ kind of resistance.
Answers: (1) stages (2) logical (3) overt or implicit (4) sociological