Strategies For Overcoming Resistance To Organizational Change

It is human nature to resist what we see as different. The change requires that we work to learn a new set of rules, when the previous rules may have been right for us. In reality, neither our personal nor professional life will always be aligned with what we perceive as comfortable. In other words, we are not the center of the universe and the world does not revolve around our comfort levels. Circumstances outside our control will force us to adapt to new policies, new systems and new sets of laws. In the best situations our participation will be valued and our opinions will be sought, giving us the opportunity to create the means that justify the end.

People demonstrate their commitment to change through their actions and actions. Strong managers request staff participation to increase acceptance and ensure that the effects of proposed changes are examined to avoid system failures. Employees who do not belong to the administration can demonstrate their acceptance by educating themselves about the process, seeking ways to generate consensus, giving and receiving comments and communicating their concerns in a constructive manner.

Many theories attempt to explain why employees resist change even when it is obvious that change is necessary for the survival of an organization. Resistance to change can be avoided by:

  • Commitment: From the CEO to the janitor, each employee must be committed to the change plan. That commitment starts at the top; therefore, the leadership of the organization must be especially in tune with the successful implementation. A negative participant in the leadership team can ruin the entire process.

  • A change mandate: Change can not be an option. With kind respect it should be clear that change is not an option, it is a requirement.

  • Entry: Anyone who will be affected by the impending changes should have the opportunity to express their opinion in a respectful and collegial setting.

  • Responsibility: Each person affected by the change program must be responsible for implementing their individual change activity. Failure to comply with that responsibility must have consequences.

  • Rewards and celebration: Successful implementation must be recognized through compensation and / or recognition. The organization as a whole must also commemorate the successful implementation of the change program.

  • Evaluation: Examining the success of implementation at planned intervals is a strategic decision designed to measure success over time and make corrections for unintended consequences.

Supervision of any of the above elements reduces the possibility of a successful implementation of a change program.

When a change occurs, the relationship ("personal pact") between employers and employees suffers. This "personal pact" has three points: formal, social and psychological.

  • The formal agreement: Captures the basic tasks and performance requirements defined by company documents, such as job descriptions, employment contracts and performance agreements.

  • The psychological pact: Incorporates feelings such as trust and dependence between the employee and the employer, which is the basis of an employee's personal commitment to the individual and company objectives.

  • The social pact: Includes the employees' perceptions of the organization's culture and its chances of success.

The change destabilizes the basis on which the employer / employee relationship ("personal pact") is constructed. It is this uncomfortable change in organizational dynamics (social, formal and psychological) that causes resistance to change, not simply the launching of new ideas or different ways of doing business.

Once the change program is announced, many employees will employ tactics. to protect themselves, their territory, and finally their place in the organization.

  • Argumentative: Some employees will aggressively challenge the need for change. This is a waste of time, which prevents critical objectives from being met. Everyone who facilitates the change process must work diligently to create consensus. The employee must be sure that each idea is worthy of consideration. If an exchange becomes broad proclamations such as "I just do not like it", "This will never work", or "This is a waste of time", the speaker must be challenged. Simply ask the speaker to explain why he feels that way and ask for three or four suggestions to make the process work.

  • Avoidance: Some managers and leadership team members will avoid change because subtlety refuses to commit to the process. Often, these leaders will sabotage the change effort by not being available for meetings, denying resources or withholding comments. "Leadership" is a particularly difficult enemy, because change efforts often require the use of resources managed by leaders, such as time and money. Without these resources, change efforts are likely to fail. Responsibility with consequences is the main means to ensure leadership participation.

  • Distraction: Many employees and leaders of organizations look for personal or professional deviations during the process of change that finally will hinder the effort. A distracted person can undermine the effort of change by not being physically or mentally present when their critical input is needed. Not taking the change into account creates an unnecessarily difficult experience for each team member. Such carelessness reminds one of the wasted energy that is spent when one runs against the wind. Change efforts provide an opportunity for each affected person to gain a new place in the organization or make the decision to seek a better fit elsewhere.

All those who will be affected by the change process must participate in its implementation, which begins by requesting Ideas and contributions in the early stages of planning.

Once identified, there are several strategies that can be used to overcome resistance to change within the organization. In order to maintain stability, all individuals must be treated with respect, as they may have valuable knowledge to contribute and doing something less can create even more resistance. In all stages of the change process, it is advisable to look for areas of agreement. Later on, these common points can be used to encourage the opposition to join the team. It is also important to recognize and fully understand the nature of resistance. This feedback will form the basis of the strategies to face that resistance. When the majority of the organization is on board, it is certainly worth listening to and addressing the concerns of some holdouts, which perpetuates the goal of maximum acceptance. Finally, resistance can be overcome by ensuring that the effort to change is communicated effectively in a multidimensional format. The theory of adult learning supports the need to propagate messages that are seen, heard and felt. By seeking consensus, recognizing comments and communicating effectively, organizations can face resistance successfully. However, there will be individuals who can not function in a changed organization. These men and women will always feel that the relationship ("personal agreement") with the employer has been broken.

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