Resistance to Change reasons Changing an organization is often essential for a company to remain competitive. Failure to change may influence the ability of a company to survive. Yet employees do not always welcome changes in methods. According to a 2007 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee resistance to change is one of the top reasons change efforts fail. In fact, reactions to organizational change may range from resistance to compliance to enthusiastic support of the change, with the latter being the exception rather than the norm. Anonymous. December 2007). Change management: The HR strategic imperative as a business partner. HR Magazine, 52(12); Huy, Q. N. (1999). Emotional capability, emotional intelligence, and radical change. Academy of Management Review, 24, 325–345. Active resistanceThe most negative reaction to a proposed change attempt. is the most negative reaction to a proposed change attempt. Those who engage in active resistance may sabotage the change effort and be outspoken objectors to the new procedures. In contrast, passive resistanceBeing disturbed by changes without necessarily voicing these opinions. nvolves being disturbed by changes without necessarily voicing these opinions. Instead, passive resisters may dislike the change quietly, feel stressed and unhappy, and even look for a new job without necessarily bringing their concerns to the attention of decision makers.
ComplianceGoing along with proposed changes with little enthusiasm. , however, involves going along with proposed changes with little enthusiasm. Finally, those who show enthusiastic supportDefenders of the new way and those who actually encourage others to give support to the change effort. re defenders of the new way and actually encourage others around them to give support to the change effort as well. To be successful, any change attempt will need to overcome resistance on the part of employees. Otherwise, the result will be loss of time and energy as well as an inability on the part of the organization to adapt to the changes in the environment and make its operations more efficient. Resistance to change also has negative consequences for the people in question. Research shows that when people react negatively to organizational change, they experience negative motions, use sick time more often, and are more likely to voluntarily leave the company. Fugate, M. , Kinicki, A. J. , & Prussia, G. E. (2008). Employee coping with organizational change: An examination of alternative theoretical perspectives and models. Personnel Psychology, 61, 1–36. These negative effects can be present even when the proposed change clearly offers benefits and advantages over the status quo. The following is a dramatic example of how resistance to change may prevent improving the status quo. Have you ever wondered why the keyboards we use are shaped the way they are?
The QWERTY keyboard, named after the first six letters in the top row, was actually engineered to slow us down. When the typewriter was first invented in the 19th century, the first prototypes of the keyboard would jam if the keys right next to each other were hit at the same time. Therefore, it was important for manufacturers to slow typists down. They achieved this by putting the most commonly used letters to the left-hand side and scattering the most frequently used letters all over the keyboard. Later, the issue of letters being stuck was resolved.
In fact, an alternative to the QWERTY developed in the 1930s by educational psychologist August Dvorak provides a much more efficient design and allows individuals to double traditional typing speeds. Yet the Dvorak keyboard never gained wide acceptance. The reasons? Large numbers of people resisted the change. Teachers and typists resisted because they would lose their specialized knowledge. Manufacturers resisted due to costs inherent in making the switch and the initial inefficiencies in the learning curve. Diamond, J. (2005). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human The fates of human societies. New York: W. W.
Norton. In short, the best idea does not necessarily win, and changing people requires understanding why they resist. Why Do People Resist Change? Dislike of Change It is very common to hear it said that the major impediment that managers face in introducing change is that people dislike change and will resist it. However, the difficulty with the blanket statement that “people dislike change” is that, if this is so, how do we explain that people sometimes welcome and even seek change? (See Table 6. 5. ) This diversity of responses suggests that it is unwise to assume that dislike of change is an innate human characteristic.
Individuals vary considerably in their “dispositional resistance to change. ”11 However, for the majority of people, it is contextual factors, that is, the specific characteristics of the specific change, that determine how they react. 13 Discomfort with Uncertainty As individuals, we tend to vary in terms of how comfortable we are with ambiguity. Some of us revel in—or at least are not particularly perturbed by—“mystery flights” where the destination is unknown. However, others of us are uncomfortable in this situation, leading us to be resistant to change unless significant details of the journey and destination are revealed.
For some, the uncertainty is magnified by a lack of confidence that they have the skills/capabilities needed in the post-change situation. To the extent that the strategic intent is not complemented by clarity as to expected actions, the chances increase that employees will fail to convert a change initiative into supporting action at their level of the organization. The key point here is that the lack of supporting action is not due to overt resistance or even apathy; it is due to the lack of a clear understanding of what such supportive action would “look like. Perceived Negative Effect on Interests The readiness for change also will be affected by people’s perceptions of the likely effect of the change on their “interests,” a term that can cover a wide range of factors including their authority, status, rewards (including salary), opportunity to apply expertise, membership of friendship networks, autonomy, and security. People find it easier to be supportive of changes that they see as not threatening such interests and may resist those that are seen as damaging to these interests. 4 Attachment to the Established Organizational Culture/Identity As noted previously, one valuable “image of organizations” is of them as cultural systems that comprise beliefs, values, and artifacts, or, put simply, “the way we do things around here. ”15 Readiness for change can be significantly affected by the degree of attachment to the existing culture (see Table 6. 6). Reger et al. 16 argue that organizational members interpret change proposals from management through their existing mental models. In this regard, they note: TABLE 6. : The FBI Revisited Source: Brazil, 2007. A particularly powerful mental model is the set of beliefs members hold about the organization’s identity … Identity beliefs are critical to consider when implementing fundamental change because organizational identity is what individuals believe is central, distinctive, and enduring about their organization. These beliefs are especially resistant to change because they are embedded within members’ most basic assumptions about the organization’s character. 18 Perceived Breach of Psychological Contract
Employees form beliefs as to the nature of the reciprocal relationship between them and their employer, that is, a “psychological contract. ”22 A breach or violation of this contract occurs when employees believe that the employer is no longer honoring its “part of the deal. ” In a variant on this theme, Strebel argues that employees and the organization for which they work can be seen as involved in a “personal compact” that defines their relationship. 23 This compact may be explicit or implicit (or a mix of both) and involves three dimensions: formal, psychological, and social.
The formal dimension covers such things as the specific task that a person is employed to do, how this relates to tasks carried out by others in the organization, how performance is assessed, and the associated level of remuneration. The psychological dimension—largely unwritten—relates to expectations in terms of trust, loyalty, and recognition. The social dimension refers to the espoused values of the organization. According to Strebel, where the proposed change conflicts with key elements of personal compacts, the outcome is likely to be resistance to change. 4 Lack of Conviction That Change Is Needed It helps change advocates if the belief that change is needed is widespread within the organization. However, what seems obvious to some (“We must change! ”) is not necessarily seen this way by others (“What’s the problem? ”). There are many reasons that may account for complacency, including a track record of success and the lack of any visible crisis. People are likely to react negatively to change when they feel that there is no need for the change. 25
The parable of the boiling frog The parable of the boiled frog helps us to understand the key challenge in coping with rapid change. Suppose you want to boil a frog. How do you do it? You could place the frog into a pot of hot water, but as soon as it feels the heat, it will jump out. So, what can you do? Put a pot of cool water on the stove and then add the frog. Not sensing danger the frog will stay. Next, turn the burner on low to slowly heat the water. As the water warms, the frog relaxes. The warmth feels good.
As the water gets hotter it acts like a steam bath draining away energy and deepening the frog’s relaxation. The frog becomes sleepy and has less and less energy while the water is getting hotter and hotter. By the time the frog realizes its danger, the water is beginning to boil, and it is too late to take action. There is neither time nor energy left to do anything. The frog perishes in the boiling water. This is because the frog’s internal apparatus for sensing threats is geared to sudden changes in his environment not to slow gradual changes.
What is the moral of the story? Be vigilant. Don’t let unexpected change creep up on you. Don’t become a “boiled frog. ” Pay close attention to what is going on around you, so that you can notice when the “water” is getting hot. To be prepared for change you need to be proactive. Don’t suppose that things will just stay the same. Being proactive about change means: * Resisting falling into a rut of routine expectation. * Being observant and actively searching for what is coming next. * Actively monitoring information from as many different sources as possible. Listening to your intuition because your gut instinct may provide a warning. * Taking some action as soon as possible, even if it is risk, because it may be riskier to do nothing. Knowing far enough in advance that change is on the way allows you to make plans. Whether it is a career change, acknowledging difficulty in a relationship, or confronting a significant loss, you will be ready when the time comes. Knowing that change is on the horizon allows you to transform it into an opportunity rather than chance being unexpectedly beset by a crisis.
In the modern whirlwind of change, don’t wait until it is too late to act. Always be looking ahead. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent. Don’t become a boiled frog. Keep testing the water, so you can leap before you boil. On the basis of the results of such a profile, managers should be able to identify, ahead of time, the likely situation they will face and, on that basis, make informed decisions in regard to the actions that need to be taken to manage the resistance (Palmer, Dunford, ;amp; Akin, 2009)
Bibliography Ankerson, D. (2012). The Parable of the Boiling Frog. Retrieved 10 19, 2012, from www. incite. co. uk: http://www. incite. co. uk/articles/the-parable-of-the-boiled-frog Carpener, M. , Bauer, T. , ;amp; Erdogan, B. (2009). Principles of Management, V. 1. 0. Flat World Knowledge, Inc. Palmer, I. , Dunford, R. , ;amp; Akin, G. (2009). Managing Organizational Change. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.