Changes substitute ambiguity and uncertainty for the known. No matter how much students may dislike some of the work associated with attending college, at least they know the ropes. They understand what is expected of them. When they leave college and venture out into the world of full time employment regardless of how eager they are to get out of college, they will have to trade the known for the unknown. Employees in organizations often hold the same dislike for uncertainty. For example, the introduction in manufacturing plants of Six sigma processes means that employees will have to learn these new methods. Some employees who are accustomed to their work routines or who have inadequate math and statistics backgrounds may fear that they will be unable to meet the Six Sigma demands. They may, therefore develop a negative attitude toward this methodology or behave dysfunctional if required to use the process.
The second cause of resistance is the fear of losing what one already possesses. Change threatens the investment in the status quo. The more people have invested in the current system, the more they resist change, Why? They fear the loss of their position, money authority, friendships personal convenience, or other benefits that they value, which is why senior employees often resist change more than do relatively new employees. Senior employees generally have invested more in the current system and, therefore have more to lose by adapting to a change.
A final cause of resistance is a person’s belief that the change is incompatible with the goals and best interests of the organization. If an employee comes across a new job procedure proposed by a change agent will reduce productivity or product quality, that employee can be expected to resist the change. If the employee expresses his or her resistance positively (clearly expressing it to change agent, along with substantiation), this form of resistance can be beneficial to the organization.
What are some techniques for reducing resistance to organizational change?
When management sees resistance to change as dysfunctional, what actions can it take? Several strategies have been suggested for use by managers or other change agents in dealing with resistance to change. These approaches include education and communication, participation, facilitation and support, negotiation, manipulation and co-optation and coercion. These tactics are summarized here and described in Exhibit
Exhibit Techniques for reducing resistance to change
Education and communication: When resistance is due to misinformation, clear up misunderstandings. May not work when mutual trust and credibility are lacking.
Participation: When resisters have the expertise to make a contribution, increase involvement and acceptance. Time consuming has potential for a poor solution.
Facilitation and support: When resisters are fearful and anxiety ridden can facilitate needed adjustments.
Negotiation: When resistance comes a powerful group can buy commitment. Potentially high cost opens door for others to apply pressure too
Manipulation and co-optation: When a powerful group’s endorsement is needed: Inexpensive easy way to gain support: Can backfire, causing change agent to lose credibility.
Coercion: When a powerful group’s endorsement is needed: Inexpensive easy way to gain support: May be illegal may undermine change agent’s credibility.
Education and communication can help reduce resistance to change by helping employees see the logic of the change effort. This technique, of course, assumes that much of the resistance lies in misinformation or poor communication.
Participation involve bringing those individuals directly affected by the proposed change into the decision making process. Their participation allows these individuals to express their feelings, increase the quality of the process and increase employee commitment to the final decision. Facilitation and support involve helping employees deal with the fear and anxiety associated with the change effort. This help may include employee counseling, therapy new kills training or a short paid leave of absence. Negotiation involves a bargain exchanging something of value for an agreement to lessen the resistance to the change effort. This resistance technique may be quiet useful when the resistance comes from a powerful source. Manipulation and co-optation refers to covert attempts to influence others about the change. It may involve twisting or distorting facts to make the change appear more attractive. Finally, coercion can be sued to deal with resistance to change. Coercion involves the use of direct threats or force against the resisters.