resistance to change

Topics: Management, Change management, Change Pages: 7 (1017 words) Published: October 4, 2014

Resistance to Change

MGT 426

Laurence Saidman

One of the many characteristics that add to the scarcity of change being implemented successfully within organizations is the resistance to change. Resistance to change is to be expected at some level in any organization, and can bring out a resilient reaction. The resistance may come in various forms and can be the main destroyer of vision and progress within many organizations. Resistance to change can poison the whole process of change (Palmer, Dunford & Akin, 2006). How can resistance be identified, and what can be done to overcome the resistance?

Organizational Resistance
Organizational resistance can come in many forms. There are seven symptoms that there is an active resistance in the workplace, and the symptoms may be passive or active in nature. The symptoms are “being critical, finding fault, ridiculing, appealing to fear, using facts selectively, blaming or accusing and sabotaging (Palmer, Dunford & Akin, 2006)”. Surprisingly according to a study done in 2005 the majority of resistance to change comes from the “leaders” in the company, mainly middle management (Rock 2008). The reasons management was resistant was because they were not personally aware of a need for a change, they thought that they would lose “power”, they were overloaded with responsibilities, they did not have proper training or education, and fears/doubts in general. Individual Resistance

Individuals have many reasons for being resistant to change. They may fear being job lay-offs, they may have a lack of knowledge about the business and what it needs to progress, individuals may have a lack of training, may feel an uncertainty if there are not enough details shared regarding the change, they may perceive the change will affect directly in an adverse way. Others may simply be comfortable with routine, are attached to the current way of doing things and may even feel that the change is not needed or is inappropriate. Some symptoms that individuals are blocking or trying to resist changes include being critical, malicious, appealing to certain fears and apprehensions, starting rumors, procrastinating, and withholding information. Being able to recognize these signs can aid in isolating any glitches and tackling them head on. Positive Factors of Change

Even though individuals and leaders in an organization may resist the changes, it is necessary to recognize the power of resistance and clear focus should be maintained, investigate the resistance, show respect for the opinions of those who are resisting, relax and don’t push back and listen to their points of view. Resistance should not be the main focus when implementing changes. The positive outcomes from implementing changes should be the main focus. Positive outcomes from change management include job security, increase in wages, promotion, more responsibility, better working environment, sense of achievement, contact with influential people and improved operations. Lewin’s Theory of Change

Kurt Lewin believes that there are three stages of change. The three phases include unfreeze, change and refreeze. To best describe his theory he uses a block of ice that you wish to change from a cube of ice into a cone of ice. The first phase in this process of change is to melt or unfreeze the cube of ice and then the second phase is to take the melted ice out of the cube mold and put the melted ice into a cone mold (change) and the last phase is to refreeze the ice. Lewin believes that when changes are processed in phases the transition is easier and met with less resistance. How Lewin’s Theory Overcomes Resistance

Unfreezing – In this stage what needs to be changed needs to be determined, support from upper management needs to be secured, a need for change needs to be created, and any doubts and concerns need to be addressed. “This first stage of change involves preparing the organization to...

References: Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Akin, G. (2006). Managing Organizational Change. New York, NY: McGraw Hill - Irwin.
Mind Tools. (2012). Lewin’s Change Management Model. Retrieved from
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