Last Updated 12 May 2020

Resistance to organizational change and development

Category Organization
Essay type Research
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Resistance is the reaction that comes from people who feel that the change being effected in the organizational is going to be a source of discomfort for them. They feel threatened and all that they can think of is to ensure that the proposed change does not take place. This creates as a hard time for the people who are in charge of ensuring that the desired change is achieved in the organization. Resistance can come from any quarter within the organization. But in most cases; it is the junior members of staff who find it hard to be part of change that they have not participated in designing who come out opposing the whole idea of change.

Nature of resistance Resistance that is witnessed in organizations can be classified according to activity, collectivism and visibility. Under activtity, resistance can be either active or passive. Active resistance to change in organizations can be violent whereby the resisting group resorts to violent actions such as demonstrations. Examples are the demonstrations staged by students when their best science teacher is given a transfer. Passive resistance does not involve any action and the resisting group of people can appear to be willing when in the real sense they are not.

On the side of collectivism, resistance can be group based or individual based. Individual resistance is whereby an individual decides to oppose the proposed change on their own without trying to work with others. Group resistance takes a little bit of mobilization and is always led by a leader of sorts. It is always more worrisome that individual resistance. Under visibility, we have covert resistance and overt resistance. Covert resistance is always done under cover. It is not possible to find the members of the organization coming out to voice their concerns as far as the change is concerned.

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Overt resistance is different since it is carried out openly. It is more effective and ends up halting change processes in organizations (Changing Minds . Org. (2008). Reasons for resistance to change in organizations The resistance to change that is witnessed in organizations is as a result of so many factors. In other words, people who come out to stand in the way of change in organizations have so many reasons for their behavior. First, there is the fear of the unknown. It is always understood that no one is so sure whether the changes being made to the operational character of the organization will be successful at the end of the day.

In fact, there are always chances that the implemented change will backfire and put the lives of all the members of the organization in jeopardy. It is for this reason that some members of the organization come out and demand that the status quo be maintained. They are sure of what they have been with for some time and they are comfortable with it since they know it. They therefore use all that is within their power to ensure that the old way of doing things is maintained. Disturbances that come in form of new ways of doing things or change are resisted heavily and enormous support is accorded to the old system.

These groups of people always gang up together and start lobbying for the old way of doing things as if they are pushing the organization’s agenda. The fact is they are always pushing forward their self interests. Secondly, it is possible that when a new way of doing things is introduced in an organization, some people who were used to doing things the old way will find it hard to handle things in the current system. This may be due to advanced required skills or the arrival of more qualified people to do the work they used to do. At the end of the day, these people will loose control.

The fear of losing control will make them work sop hard against the change and it is possible that they will end up not getting convinced that the change is for the good of the organization. This is because no one likes losing control. Thirdly, the emergence of a new way of running the affairs of the organization automatically means that the old face of the organization is lost. The workers who handled various departments in the old organization will have assumed a different identity which will be alien in the market or in the eyes of the public.

The new identity will obviously be hard to pace and this amounts to lose of face. Therefore the fear of the idea of losing face is a reason that makes so many people stand in the way of change. The fear of losing face does not apply to the workers only but also the organization. Added to the above is the fact that the workers who used to do things in a particular way and these things are not being done in the new system will become redundant. The skills and competencies they had will become useless and after time they will be forgotten.

This is equivalent to losing their competency. The lose of competence pushes so many people into opposing change. The drive is that if they succeed in stopping the change from occurring in the organization, the old way of doing things will go on and they will not lose their jobs and hence their competencies. Another reason as to why there is resistance to change in organizations is the fact that some of the workers are not given support. The whole process of trying to come up with a new way of doing things in an organization is not something easy.

It requires that the employees or members of the organization be given support in terms of counseling and assurance that they will be okay in the new system. When this kind of support is not given to the members, they end up getting feelings that they are not being considered in the whole process of change and the only weapon at their disposal is the opposition to the change agenda. But if this support is given to these people, they can be positive about the change in the organization and their support to the people who are directly involved in the implementation of the change agenda will find their cooperation invaluable.

Other sources of resistance to change in an organization include the need for security, the absence of confidence, the inappropriate timing in implementing the change and the push that comes from the prospect of losing what they used to doing in the old system. Under the need for security, it is not always clear whether the roles the se people played in the old system will continue being played in the new system. Chances that these roles will not be there are always there and this means that these people will, lose their jobs if the new system takes space.

The thought of losing their jobs makes these people very insecure and all that they can do put up strong opposition so as to ensure that there jobs are safe. Carrying out the change at the wrong time can also lead to opposition. If for example the system is being changed when the organization had just invested in an expensive investment that will be rendered useless by the new system, it is possible that some of the members of the organization who perceive this as wastage will come out and oppose any attempt to implement the change.

The push from what they are used to doing is simply a reference to the old habits that these people will find hard to drop. As a result, they will do anything to stop this change that is hell-bent on taking away what they are used to doing (Watzlawick, 1974). Ways of dealing with resistance while effecting change Dealing with resistance is important since it will assist in creating the required environment for the effecting of the required change. The disturbances that can arise from especially overt forms of resistance will not be the best of climates that anyone may wan to witness when effecting change.

This therefore means that the presence of effective ways of dealing with resistance is necessary if the desired change is to be implemented. The first way of dealing with resistance is through participation. The act of ensuring that all the members of the organization are involved in the designing of the change strategy will make them feel like they own the process. In case of any lay offs, they will be more understanding since they are part of the process compared to when they are not but instead they are informed of their termination form a distance. The logic here is that it is not possible to oppose a program you have assayed design.

Moving away from that, the element of education and communication is very vital in combating resistance. If the people in the organization are properly educated on how the changed way of doing things is going to make their lives and the life of the organization better, chances are that they will accept to take up the change. Communication of any decisions made by the senior management of the organization to the juniors in the organization will also assist in avoiding the element of surprise that engenders resentment on the side of the junior members of the organization.

It is therefore necessary that before the change agenda is implemented, the members of the organization are given full information on how the proposed changes will affect their lives. Another way in which resistance to change can be handled or dealt with in an organization is by the element of agreement. The act of the drivers of the change agenda sitting down with all the members of the organization and trying to agree with them on the various aspects of the change agenda will be helpful.

Through the powers of consensus building and compromise making, it is possible that the two teams can easily agree and the change issue is given a go ahead with full support by all the members of the organization. In trying to agree, each side will be required to be honest and reduce the influence of self interest in decision making. Away from the above, manipulation can also be applied in trying to overcome resistance while trying to implement organizational change. This can also be aided with co-optation. Under manipulation; some key members can be talked to and given incentives so that they can back the initiative.

The leaders of the resisting group can be manipulated and co-opted so that the few who remain are not able to keep on resisting and before they know it, the intended change is already effected. Managing change Much has to done for one to be able to properly manage change. A number of activities are supposed to be done so that change is well managed in an organization. The first activity that can be done in managing change within an organization is creating avision. Creating a vision will give the members of the organization something to look up to and appreciate the change agenda in the organization.

Other activities include developing the required political support by accessing and influencing stakeholders so as to sustain the change, managing the transitional period carefully by the creation of appropriate management structures, planning activities well and planning commitments, motivating workers or members of the organization and working hard to sustain the energy that may have come up as a result of the change by providing resources to sustain it, coming up with new competencies and reinforcing new behavior Applications

The clear change management strategies that are discussed in this paper can be applied in numerous areas in life. In a school setting, if the management wants to change the way things are done and they fear that the students will resist violently, the best way to go about is to use manipulation as a way of handling resistance. Then the Lewin process of effecting and managing change can be followed in all its phases starting with diagnosis, going to unfreezing, then to movement where the required change is implemented, then refreezing and lastly renewal.

The same way of management of change can be applied in a company where due to the delay of data retrieval, a computerized system is being introduced. This can be done on an incremental basis or transformational where the entire company is equipped with the new system. Through education and communication, those resisting can be dealt with so as to ensure that the system is in place Conclusion As seen above, change is not escapable in any part of our lives. Organizations are also bombarded with the idea of change from time to time both external and internal factors play a role in bringing about thus change.

Change has different outlooks such as type I change which is what is done to us, type II change which is what we do to ourselves, and type III change which is what we do to others. Other forms of change include incremental change, transformational change, partial change and firm-wide change. The Lewin model of dealing or managing change is appropriate to use and resistance to change is always expected due to a number of reasons such as lack of communication, insecurity and lack of support.

The three phase theory is particularly crucial for managers who deal with planned change. But this resistance can be overcome through education and communication in addition to giving support and manipulating the resisting elements. Organizational development on the other hand has to be deal with caution so that the gains made are not lost. The ultimate aim of development is to make more gains for an organization as opposed to preventing a loss as it comes out in the issue of change.

References: Changing Minds . Org. (2008): Signs of resistance. Retrieved on the 30th December 2008 from: http://changingminds. org/disciplines/change_management/resistance_change/sign_resistance. htm Kanter, M. R. , (1992): The Challenge of Organizational Change. ISBN-10:0029169917, ISBN-13:978-0029169919, Free Press. Watzlawick, P. , (1974): Change; The challenge of problem formation and problem solution. ISBN-10:0393011046, ISBN-13:978-0393011043, W. W. Norton and Company

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