The Life Cycle of Resistance to Change What is change? After doing some research I came discovered that there are many different definitions of the word change. Webster’s dictionary says that change means to give a different course, position, or direction to (Merrriam-Webster, 2010). Whenever you add the word change to organizational it takes on a somewhat different meaning.
Organizational change is the term used to describe the transformation process that a company goes through in response to a strategic reorientation, restructure, change in management, merger or acquisition, or the development of new goals and objectives for the company (What is Organizational Change? , 2007). Many people feel that change is the only thing in life that is constant. In many cases organizations cannot avoid change because if they do the risk the chance of going under or their organization failing. Causes for Change Today we live in a world where things are always changing.
We have to change to keep up with society. Managers of organizations need to be aware of all the internal and external environmental factors that can promote change within an organization. Internal factors are all the things that happen within the organization itself. They include, but are not limited to, the following types of things: managerial policies and styles, systems that are unique to the organization, production procedures, and employee attitudes. Managers have to always be aware of the fact that they may need to alter what they are doing in order for them to be on top of their game.
External factors are things that are going on outside of the organization that they really have no control of. Globalization and technological advances, competition, and the economic structure outside of the organization are all things that could promote change within the organization. If manages fail to realize that change is needed in order for the organization to survive then they could risk losing everything that they have worked so long and hard to create. Organizations change for a countless number of reasons and the ways in which they decide to change differ from one organization to the other. External Factors.
Globalization, an external factor, can be a difficult term to define because it has come to mean so many things. In general, globalization refers to the trend toward countries joining together economically, through education, society and politics, and viewing themselves not only through their national identity but also as part of the world as a whole (Ellis-Christensen, 2010). Globalization offers huge potential profits to companies and nations that are willing to globalize. Globalization has been complicated by widely differing expectations, standards of living, cultures and values, and legal systems.
Competition is another reason that organizations change. Organizations have to be able to keep their customers happy. Consumers are willing to buy things that they feel will benefit them the most, even if that means spending a little more money. In today’s world we have a number of automobile manufactures that constantly have to come up with better ways to make their car better than the next company so that they can continue to thrive in this always changing economy. Companies also have to develop cheaper more efficient ways of producing their products.
The economic structure outside of the organization really impacts the decisions that are being made within the organization. Over the past couple of years many companies have be directly hit by the economic hardships that our country have been going through. Many companies were forced to do major cut backs to their labor force just to stay open. Whenever companies look for way to cut back on the budget people are usually the first things to go. Employees cost the company a lot of money and if the company feel that they can satisfy their customers with fewer people then that’s just what they will do.
I remember when the company that I am currently work for were forced to do a major reduction to their workforce. Due to the policies and procedures that were put into play years before the economy crashed lay-offs were done on a last hire, first fire bases. They were forced to let go of a number of their valuable workers because that was what they agreed to beforehand. Not long after that they realized that they policies were costing them more money because they had to re-train so many people to fill the vacant jobs.
They were forced to revise that section on their handbook so that lay-offs would be done by department, instead of plantwide. Internal Factors. Organizations are always developing ways to produce their products cheaper, faster, and more efficiently. The company that I work for are always bringing in a Kazan team in different department to help them create new ways of doing things. Sometimes something as simple as changing the process flow can make a big difference. This means that if the company changes the direction of flow that the product goes through it could cut back on the amount of time needed to produce the product.
Although it may only take out a minute or two, all those minutes added together can really make a difference in the long run. If managers see that the vision that they have for the company is not working then they make want to consider shifting their focus to something that seems to be more promising. According to Anderson, whenever organizations decide to change their vision they should create an engaging description of the future and the path that will be taken to get there. He also feels that communication is very important with implementing change. Communication should be done regularly, using multiple media, in jargon-free language.
It should detail what the change will mean for the organization and its members and why the organizational members should be excited about the change. Whenever management notice a decline in employee morale this may be a good sign that a change needs to come about. Whenever employees feel that they are not getting what they are worth they tend to perform at a lower level. Employee’s attitude and work habits begin to take a downward fall whenever they are not satisfied with the way the organization is operating. Management should take heed to this warning signs and decide to start making some changes within the organization.
One example that comes to mind occurred at my current job. Management where requiring four team members to perform the task and duties of six team members. Those four team members were required to work 12-hour days Monday through Friday and 8-hour day during the weekend. At first it was alright, but as time went on it became more and more demanding on the team members because they were rarely able to get the required amount of rest needed to perform their job duties. The team members started taking Fridays off so that they could have the weekend off and when management finally realized what was going on they brought in the much needed helped.
The team members are still working seven days a week, but only eight hours a day. Now the team members look forward to going to work because they are not being over worked. Resistance to Change Our natural reaction to change, even in the best circumstances, is to resist. Awareness of the business need to change is a critical ingredient of any change and must come first. Roger Von Oech said it best when he said: “There are two basic rules of life: Change is inevitable and everybody resists change. ” (Seiner, 2000). People typically avoid situations that upset order, threaten their self-interests, increase stress, or involve risk.
People will always resist change because humans have a natural fear of the unknown. If people have had bad past experiences with change the next time a change comes about they are going to view it as being negative and unneeded. Burtonshaw-Gunn and Salameh defines resistance to change as an individual or group engaging in acts to block or disrupt an attempt to introduce change. People resist change when they believe change is unnecessary or will make the situation worse. They subscribe to the belief, “If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. They are not keeping up with the outside world and feel that their way is the only way. They might say something like this “Things have always been done this way for as long as I can remember and we do not know what is going to happen if we change”. They fear that the change will mean personal loss – of security, money, status, friends or freedom. If the employee feels that the change is going to affect their job status or job security they are going to resist. They are not going to be willing to accept a change that could put their job and well-being at risk.
If they did not have any input into the decision making process they will probably resist. The employee may feel that they were manipulated because the changes were kept secret during the planning stage and the change may have come as a surprise. They may not be confident that the change will succeed because they believe that the organization lacks the necessary resources to implement the change. The employee may have a personal predisposition to change. The employee may have a negative experience with change in the past and now they feel that anytime a change takes place it is going to be bad.
Fear of the unknown plays a big role in change resistance because whenever employee learn a job and becomes very skilled they tend to forget that things can be done in more than one way. Whenever management announces that a change is going to take place and the employees who do not see a need for that change they will resist. They will more than likely form groups that are going to protest the change and these groups could even influence others to be against the change. Successful Ways to Manage Change and Resistance Managing organizational change requires maintaining an active focus on all stages of the change process.
Although people naturally resist change, they can learn accept change whenever they feel that the change will result in some personal gain. People will accept a change that is going to make them look good, have better job security, and increase their status quo. People will also support things that believe in. If the people feel that the change makes sense and is the right thing to do then they are going to support it. Management should give the employee an opportunity to provide input into the change process. Management should make the change known as soon as possible and ask the employees for their opinion.
Whenever the employees feel that what they have to say can really make a difference and that they had a chance to be heard they are less likely to resist. This does not mean that the company should ask the employee for their input just for the sake of asking and then do whatever they want. If the employees come up with ideas that could potentially benefit the organization, the organizations should find ways to implement those strategies into their change process. Whenever employees respect the person who is advocating the change they are more likely to accept it because they may have a fear of disappointing that person.
Lastly, whenever the employees believe it is the right time for the change they will be more willing to accept the change. Six Cycle Change Process. Whenever management decides to make changes within the organization they should take the time to plan for the change. They need to understand that change does not happen overnight and if they forget to involve the people the change may not stick. Rick Maurer author of a book entitled “Beyond the Wall of Resistance” outlined a six step model called The Cycle of Change to help us better understand how to approach and deal with change (Maurer, 1996).
The six steps are something’s up, what is it, what do I need, I will do this, I am able to do it, and I got through it, what’s next. Step one, something is up is known as the early recognition of the coming change. While in this stage everything may seem normal, but you begin to get that feeling that something is up and a change may be coming soon. During step two you are able to see the situation clearly. You then begin to weigh your options and decide whether this change is going to present a problem or an opportunity to you as an individual.
But you still need a clear understanding of the situation in order for you to make the right choices. Whenever you enter stage three you are trying to formulate a course of action. You have to decide what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Stage four is the time when you decide that you are going to put your plans in motion. You are aware of what needs to be done; now it is just a matter of doing it. After you act on you plans you approach stage five of the change cycle with hope. Although you may have to make some adjustments to your plan you begin to realize that it may actually work.
This stage gives you motivation because you now believe that the goals established by the plan can be accomplished. If you make it to stage six, it is time to celebrate. You have successfully made it through this change and things seem to be normal again. Although they are not the old normal they are working. Once you have mastered all six stages in this change cycle and you understand that change is always going to occur you look forward to the next time change comes about. Conclusion. The ideas of change and resistance go hand and hand, you cannot have one without the other.
The cycles of change and resistance continue to exist in our everyday lives and there is nothing that we can do to avoid it. Change within the organization play major role in the overall success of the business. Manager need to know all the internal and external factor that promote change within the organization. They should not focus all of their attention on the actual change itself, but they should come up with ways to effectively promote the change within the organization. They need to realize that change is the only thing that they can depend on because it is always going happen.
How each individual deals with that change is really up to the individual, but management can have some influence if they promote the change in the correct format. Management need for the employees to be open-minded to the idea of change. They employees should be taught to approach the change with understanding and hope. Even with the proper teaching and training resistance is still going to be present. Management need to know and understand that resistance to change is natural, but following the right steps and guidelines could help them successful implement the change.