Causes of resistance to change by employers and management

Not only the employees, but the employers or the men in management resist the change on the following grounds :

1. Increase in Responsibility : Any change warranted by the situations are generally opposed by the employers and management because it brings out a problem of readjustment of equilibrium of situation and environment. Management is to retain the workers according to proposed changes and responsibility of introducing change. Thus, change increases responsibility of the management.

2. Change proposed by Government and Labour Union : Sometimes changes are proposed by labour union and because the management takes it as an insulting matter to implement the change proposed by the union hence, they oppose any proposal for change. Some changes are forced by the government for the industries to implement. Such changes, though they have to implement it, are resisted by them because mentally they are not prepared to implement it.

3. Change on Experimental Basis : In few case, changes are introduced on experimental basis viz., if it is proved beneficial, it will be extended further and be made permanent otherwise it will be abolished. In other words, it is a temporary phase. Some men in the management does not favour such temporary phase and oppose it if change does not suit them.

These are a few of the conditions in which resistance might be expected to occur. There may be certain other reasons for the resistance to change depending upon the circumstances of individual case.

Organizational Resistance

The organizational structure itself also resists change. The four reasons of organizational resistance to change have been summarized as follows :

1. Threats to the Power Structure : Most changes have the capacity to disrupt the organization's power structure. Introduction of decentralised decision making is example of change that is often seen as threats to the power of supervisors and middle level managers but a welcome by lower-level employees.

2. Structural Inertia : Organizational structures have several mechanisms designed to produce stability. Accordingly, job assignments, selection and training of new employees and performance reward systems are designed to maintain stability, thereby resist to change. Whenever an organization is confronted with change, this structural inertia acts as a counterbalance to sustain stability.

3. System Relationships : As mentioned earlier, any change has domino effect. Change in one subsystem affects changes in other subsystems also. For example, a change in the accounting department may influence the methods of reporting and record keeping of every other department. Hence, the other departments may resist to such change.

4. Sunk Costs and Vested Interest : Sunk costs are investment in fixed assets, such as land and building and machinery. Vested interested are the personal commitments of individuals to programmes, policies, or other people. As individuals find it difficult to abandon, so the organization to recoup the sunk cost. The same becomes a source of organizational resistance to change.

5. Group Inertia : Sometimes, the individuals resist change because the group to which they belong resists it. The degree and force of resistance will depend upon how loyal one is to the group and how effectively group resists the change. Generally, the members of a group are influenced by the codes, patterns and attitudes of the group. Resistance to rationalisation collectively by labour in India is an example of group resistance.

6. Organizational Structure : Change is often resisted by the bureaucratic structures where jobs are narrowly defined, lines of authority clearly spelled and flow of information is stressed from top to bottom. Moreover, organizations are made up of a number of interdependent subsystems, one system cannot be changed without affecting the others.

7. Threat to Specialisation : Change in organization may threaten the expertise of specialised groups. For example, giving computer training to all the employees in the organization and giving personal computers was perceived as a threat by the experts in computer department of the organization.

8. Resource Constraints : Organizations need adequate financial resources for training change agents and for offering rewards to those who support change. An organization who does not have resources for implementing the change often resists it.

Managing Resistance to Change

In a sense, resistance to change is simply a form of feedback that can be used very productively to manage the change process. Six key strategies have been suggested for managing resistance to change. These are reviewed briefly.

1. Education and Communication : If reason of resistance is misunderstanding about the change, it can be reduced by providing employees with details why change is needed. Employee can be educated about the change through one-on-one discussions, memos, group presentations, or reports. New information is a powerful force for change in ambiguous situations. For example, new employee orientations are particularly effective in changing behaviour of new employees, because they would not have known how to behave otherwise. Studies on the introduction of computers in the workplace indicate that providing employees with opportunities for hands-on practice helps alleviate fears about the new technology. Employees who have experience with computers display more positive attitudes and greater Efficiency.

2. Participation : Research evidence lands support to the fact that individuals find it difficult to resist a change decision in which they participated. Hence, before a change is introduced, particularly those who oppose the change can be brought into the decision process. In a classical study, workers in a garment factory were introduced to change in three different ways. One group was simply told about the new procedure, on group was introduced to the change by trained worker and one group was allowed to help plan the implementation of the new production. The results were dramatic. The third group, those who participated in the change adopted the new methods very quickly, was more productive and experienced no turnover. However, against these advantages are negatives as well.

3. Facilitation and Support : Another strategy for managing resistance to change is providing support and empathy to those employees who have trouble dealing with the change. Counseling and therapy, skill training, or a short paid leave may be examples of support extended to the employees. However, like education and participation, this strategy also suffers from the drawback, such as it is time-consuming and expensive also.

4. Negotiation : Negotiation particularly with a group of powerful individuals resistance to change is yet another strategy to deal with potential resistance to change. For this, a specific reward package can be negotiated with the powerful individuals to meet their individual needs. Yes, one cannot ignore its potentially high costs. In addition, once a few powerful individual are made so ready avoid resistance to change, it may so happen that they are being blackmailed by the change agents to resolve even rather crucial matters in their favour.

5. Manipulation and Co-optation : In brief, manipulation implies covert attempts to influence. Examples of manipulations are twisting the facts to make them more attractive, withholding information not pleasant to the receivers and spreading rumors to make employees ready to accept change. As regards co-optation, it includes both manipulation and co-optation. The leaders of a resistance group are invited not to reach to a better decision, but to get their endorsement.

Both manipulation and co-optation are less expensive and simple ways to seek support of the adversaries. However, against these advantages are the negatives: possibility for the tactics being backfired if the target comes to know that they are being tricked or misused.

6. Coercion : Last on the list of suggested tactics is coercion. The organization, as a last resort, can apply threats on the resisters to make them ready accept the proposed change. Threats of transfer, loss of promotion, negatives performance evaluation, a poor report on performance and dissatisfactory recommendation are the examples of coercion. Coercion is labeled with advantages and disadvantages similar to those labeled with manipulation and co-optation. A small mention about what facilitates successful implementation of organizational change. The major challenge before the managers is how to manage change successfully. This implies that for managing change successfully, the change strategy needs to include and manage all the three stages (i.e., unfreezing, changing, refreezing) of the change process. This facilitates the achievement of organizational changes in a consistent manner. This is corroborated by Greiner's study also in which he found that successful changes appeared to follow a relatively consistent pattern while there was inconsistency of pattern among the unsuccessful changes. Greiner identified the following eight stages through which organizations achieve successful implementation of change :

1. Internal or external pressures create a need of change, which is shared in the organization, but particularly felt by the top management.

2. An outsider, either a new executive or a consultant, who has reputation for creating change, enters the organization.

3. This change agent encourages the organization to re-examine its past practices and present problems.

4. The top team assumes a direct and highly involved role in conducting this examination.

5. The change agent, with the help of the top team, involves different levels in this diagnosis.

6. The change agent provides people at different levels with new ideas and methods for developing solutions for the organizational problems.

7. The initial solutions are tested/implemented at a small scale and, if found successful, applied at a large scale.

8. As the change efforts spread, they get absorbed permanently as the organization's way of life. To sum up, organizational change is both inevitable and desirable. Also, it is people's involvement

that makes change successful. Then, the moot question is how to involve people in the change process? Research findings lend support to the view that a sudden change is often resisted and rejected. On the other hand, evidences corroborate that a gradual change often tends to succeed. Jacque Passino, a consultant in Change Management Practices at Anderson Consulting also holds the similar views. While giving a fillip to the Indian change management practices, Passino opines, "There's this story about the frog if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. If you put a frog in a pot and heat the water gently, it will not jump out, but die. Companies also are like that.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >