1 Resistance to Change: A Case Study in the Food and Beverage Department 2 Change is common in an organization and is initiated due to the need to survive and adapt to the changing market. As change is a disruption of routines and what people are used to, resistance to change is a common reaction of the change recipients. People resist changes because changes are uncomfortable and require them to adapt to a new way of thinking and doing things. Also, people have trouble envisioning how life will be like after changed; hence, they tend to stick to the unknown rather than embracing the unknown.
This essay is going to demonstrate why employees resist change in the hospitality and gaming organization with around 6000 employees and how the change agent can turn their resistance to advantages. The Food and Beverage department (F&B) is undergoing a change in the food safety management initiated by the new F&B director. The director attempts to introduce a new food safety audit scheme with the objective to raise the food safety standard of the dining outlets. The change recipients, the F&B Kitchen, Service and Stewarding eams, are resisting the change by ignoring the director’s requests and refusing to cooperate with him. The change of food safety management creates disruption in the daily operations of the change recipients. As a result, rather than providing improved services, the number of guests’ complaints and the turnover rate of F&B staff increase drastically one month after the change has started. The process of change is now stuck at its beginning because of the conflicts between the director and the F&B teams. The employees’ reactions and resistance are so great that the change The proposed change, which is ow appears to be impossible to implement. originally of a good intention to upgrade the F&B outlets, is doomed to failure because the change agent – the F&B director – is so engrossed in his plan that he never tries to understand the reasons of resistance to his proposed change. 3 When the change was initiated, the change agent employed a consultant to assist in the process of change. The consultant works out a plan of the new food safety practices on what has to be changed and to what extent these things have to be changed.
The use of outsider to teach and give comments to the F&B teams on how things should be done gives them an impression that their experience is not valued and their ways of work are not respected. The assumption in the change recipients’ minds is that their new boss thinks they have not been delivering a satisfactory performance in food safety so the director has employed an outsider to look for their wrongdoings. Other than the daily operation of the outlets, the change affects the social relationship among the three F&B teams and the food safety audit team.
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The use of a stricter audit system means that they have to work harder to comply with the standards. Moreover, failing the food safety audit will result in disciplinary actions, such as issue of warning letters or temporary suspension of work. Therefore, the social relationship among the three teams changes from cooperating with one another into shuffling the blame of food safety standard non-conformance off to one another. In addition, in the past, the F&B teams worked closely with the food safety audit team in upholding the agreed standard.
However, because of the fear for failing the higher food safety standard, the F&B teams have become hostile to the audit team and are always trying to argue with the audit team on the result of audit. Another reason of resistance to change is that the director has put too much pressure on his teams in upholding the high standards and meeting the targets of continuous increase in restaurants’ income and reduction in operating cost. These unrealistic objectives lead to a huge workload and pressure and cause the teams overload. 4 Conflicts among the teams emerge, leading to frustrations and anger of the employees and finally, high turnover rate.
The shortage of manpower in the restaurants contributes to the unsatisfying customer service and increase in guests’ complaints. Besides, the pressure of the restaurant managers and chefs to fulfill the objectives creates panic and confusion in the operating level. In order to save cost, chefs tend not to maintain the food safety standards that request them to throw away unused food items. On the contrary, the food audit team and the outlet managers demand the This confusion in employees to comply strictly with the food safety standards. peration and food safety practices leads to employees’ frustration, high turnover rate, and, consequently, shortage of labor in the restaurants, especially when the unemployment rate of the economy is so low that it is very easy for the employees to get another job. In addition, the change agent fails to listen to the employees when he is implementing the changes. The outlet managers and chefs have already told him that the high food safety standard is unrealistic and impossible to attain. The neglect of the employees’ frustrations has led to the employees’ chronic resistance and persistent hostility towards the change agent.
As a result, that particular change and other beneficial changes introduced by the director do not work as planned and are totally rejected by the change recipients. Without the cooperation of the change recipients, the project is in slow progress because they try to fool around with the consultant and the director and refuse to cooperate. As the resistance of change persists, the change appears to fail sooner or later. The main reason of failure is that the change agent perceives the resistance as the “enemy 5 of change” because of the belief that a change process with only minimal resistance is a good change (Waddell and Amrik, 1998).
In fact, resistance, like pain, reflects that What something is wrong in the process, but not that the change itself is wrong. causes the resistance is how the change is implemented instead of what has to be changed. change. Resistance, when managed carefully, can be used as an advantage to assist In fact, resistance is an important form of feedback, giving the change agent some valuable inputs on what have gone wrong in the implementation of change. Therefore, the director should look into the resistance, try to understand it and use it to refine the change effort.
In order to reduce resistance, it is essential to build a guiding coalition with the restaurant managers and chefs. In order to build the coalition, the director should abandon the idea that he is doing the right and proper thing while the change recipients are throwing up unreasonable obstacles or barriers intent on “doing in” or “screwing up” the change (Dent and Goldberg, 1999). Furthermore, the change agent should always communicate with the change recipients and try to understand the uncertainties and potential problems, caused by the change, faced by change recipients.
He should also present his vision and the company goals clearly so that the change recipients can align their objectives with that of the change agent and the company. Moreover, Spreitzer and Quinn state that change agents contribute to the occurrence of what they call “resistant behaviors and communications” through their own actions and inactions, owing to their own ignorance, incompetence, or mismanagement (1996). The director, instead of trying to understand the difficulties his employees are facing in their operation, uses fear management and exerts pressure on the outlet 6 anagers and chefs to change because he believes that this particular change is good and necessary for the company. However, as Hultman (1979) comments that it is a fallacy to consider the change itself to be inherently good because change can only be evaluated by its consequences. This belief cannot be proved with any certainty until the change effort has been completed and sufficient time has passed. The change agent should, rather than getting an outsider – the consultant – to initiate the change, elicit participation from the teams and respected their opinions regarding the routines of the restaurants.
Besides, the change agent should create a great sense of urgency in that particular change, for example, whether it is government requirement or market driven (Ford et al. 2008). Without explaining the need and urgency of change, the change recipients In fact, the change are unable to relate the change with the objective reality. proposed by the director is driven by the government food safety policy which will be put into practice next year, the highly competitive market and the increase in customers’ demand of high quality food and services.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for the company to continuously improve and meet the demand of the customers in order to maintain profits and market share. It is fairly easy for the change agent to scapegoat the change recipients for the failure of change because of the uncooperative and hostile attitude of the change recipients. However, the change agent should understand that change is a situation that interrupts the normal patterns of organization and calls for participants to enact new patterns. This process involves the interplay of deliberate and emergent processes that can be highly ambiguous (Mintzberg and Waters, 1985).
Change is an interruption of normal operation and implies an increase in workload, at least during the period of 7 change implementation. It is not difficult to imagine that the change recipients are reluctant to accept change right at the beginning, especially when they cannot foresee any immediate or long-term benefits. Therefore, the process of change should be carefully planned and well-communicated in order to get the participation and support of the change recipients. On the other hand, participations of the change recipients should be valued respectfully.
Participation is a feeling on the part of people to be involved in a process but not just being called in to take part in discussions. People are more likely to respond to the way they are customarily treated and whose opinions are respected rather than being asked some carefully calculated questions about their opinions (Lawrence, 1969). The wrong way to elicit participation by overselling the positive and underselling the negative that the change will bring about will be perceived by the change recipients as intentional misrepresentation, injustice and violation of trust between the recipients and the agent (Mintzberg and Waters, 1985).
Consequently, the change recipients will be more defensive to change and may even intentionally deliver bad performance in order to prove that the change is a failure. In fact, resistance is a resource that can be fully utilized when it is acknowledged and understood. Change agents have to be aware of the problems caused by change because these problems are constructed from novel, discrepant, or problematic situations that are puzzling, troubling, or uncertain to the participants of change (Weick, 1995).
The emergence of problems demonstrates the potential obstacles that These problems, when will be encountered on the way to a successful change. managed carefully, can become advantages that greatly assist the process of change. Resistance is a form of conflict that strengthens and improves not only the quality of 8 decisions, but also the participants’ commitment to the implementation of those decisions (Amason, 1996). Hence, the F&B director should realize that he has to e-introduce the change as the benefits to the department and the company as a whole, and try to regain the trust of the F&B teams by inducing their participation with respect, taking more responsibilities in the occurrence of resistance and empowering the teams in the process of change. As a result, the process of change will be smoother and will ultimately succeed with the emergence of resistance. 9 Bibliography AMASON, A. C. (1996) Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: resolving a paradox for top management teams. Academy of Management Journal, 39, pp. 23-148. BUCHANAN, D. A. and HUCZYNSKI, A. A. (2010) Organizational Behaviour. 7th ed. England: Pearson Education Limited. DENT, E. B. and GOLDBERG, S. G. (1999) Challenging “resistance to change”. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 35, pp. 25-41. FORD, J. D. et al. (2008) Resistance to change: the rest of the story. Academy of Management Review, 33 (2), pp. 362-377. HULTMAN, K. (1979) The Path of Least Resistance. TX, Denton: Learning Concepts. LAWRENCE, P. R. (1969) How to deal with resistance to change. Harvard Business Review, 1, pp. 49-57. MALTZ, M and BASLER, F. (1997) Portable Conference on Change Management.
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