Resistance to Change

Topics: Change management, Management, Project management Pages: 6 (2099 words) Published: April 30, 2012
Change they say is the only constant thing. It is however a big wonder why many people still resist change even in large institutions. Resistance to change has therefore had a negative connotation because it portrays people avoiding the inevitable and not wanting to improve or face challenges. The essence of this paper is to peel the outward negative layer of resistance to change and dig deeper to reveal how it can be managed and transformed into a positive thing which may avail managers the opportunity to better their employees and refine their approach to change management. Although it was once accepted that ''everyone resists change'', this paper will show that how people are treated and how change is implemented can have considerable influence on employee resistance to change.

Perren (1996) described resistance as a behavioural reaction or symptom of distress intended to reduce distress level. Change may be described as the creation of something new or ending of something we are familiar with. (Huc and Buc 2010) describes resistance to change as an unwillingness or inability to accept or discuss changes that are perceived to be damaging or threatening to the individual. Large institutions often fail in their ability to manage change well and a major reason is the inability to create new business culture from the existing organisations. (Atkinson 2005) it is for this reason that resistance to change is seen negatively as organisational change is more often than not unsuccessful. The nature of resistance is that we do not experience it actively and publicly. Its presence is often displayed covertly or passively and shows up in unexpected ways. Perhaps if it were displayed in an obvious manner, we could deal with it logically. (Atkinson 2005)

2.1 Resistance to Change as a Negative Force
Resistance is most commonly linked with negative employee attitudes with counter- productive behaviours. (Waddell and Sohal 1998) Negativity is a misconception that there are so many times when resistance is the most effective response available. (Hultman 1979). Early human resource theory also cast resistance in a negative light by perceiving it as a form of conflict that was indicative of a breakdown in the normal and healthy interactions that can exist between individuals or groups. And of course the answer was to avoid resistance in order to restore harmony. (Milton 1984).

2.2 Why do people Resist Change?
Having an in-depth knowledge as to why employees resist change might be a first step to realising that resistance is not a bad thing and to helping the manager deal with it. Among the causes of resistance to change listed by Kreitner (1999) are: Surprise, inertia, misunderstanding, emotional side effects, lack of trust, fear of failure, personal conflicts, poor training or threat to job status/security. Four common causes of resistance to change as cited by Huc and Buc (2010), Bedeian (1980) and Kotter and Schlesinger (2008) are: a. Parochial Self Interest. Which could mean leaving your comfort zone, inconveniences or disturbance of relationships. Like Atkinson (2005) said, the first reaction when people hear of an imminent change is to personalise it to self and ask, ''how is this going to affect me?'' b.Misunderstanding or lack of Trust. That is communication gap. People want to know the reason for the change that is being proposed. If they feel you are hiding information from them, it could lead to lack of trust and they will automatically resist. c.Contradictory Assessments. Managers should be as explicit as possible when driving change because employees tend to see more costs than benefits. d.Low tolerance for change. Some people have difficulty in coping with change and may result in self doubt and uncertainty. According to Kotter (2008) people might also resist change because of peer pressure or a supervisor's attitude. Drucker argued that the...
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