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Change Resistance And Effective Organizational Change Management

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Resistance to change refers to action taken by individuals and groups when they are aware that a change is occurring as a threat to them. In instance, objection in sales and disagreement in general discussions. They are categorized in four main sources; individual resistance, organizational resistance, group level resistance and Lewin’s Force. Resistance to change are important because they can help prevent bad ideas from being applied and avoid good ideas from getting applied badly. This can reduce risks, so organizations develop strategies carefully. If a changing management would improve a part of the organization but could put their risk to their financial at the same time, the organization will need to justify why change is necessary, take time to slow down, prioritize what is important, create strategy and supporting plans and also get employees involvement to listen and gather their feedback. Leaders are to make sure that the changes can give benefits to both organization and its employees. Managers need not only to consider the change from an business’s perspectives, but also the people. This forces leaders to communicate directly to employees to understand how they can be affected by the sudden change.

Furthermore, as change makes leaders gain and listen to feedbacks from people in the organization. It is possible to find a better solution by gathering different point of views, as how leaders think may not always be the best solution. This can also boost skills and abilities of employees for continuous improvement. In addition, employees give managers ideas to know if they are trying to implement an idea that can either be a benefit or a threat to the company, hence, acknowledging and taking actions on their feedback will help in making smooth transitions. Resistance to change forces organizations to take time to slow down and prioritize, strategize to create supporting plans. Risks are to be analysed by identifying and specifying uncertainties. Change and change management created, including communication plans, plans for senior leaders and managers, and how the change will be used, are to be analysed. A detailed strategy or plan will highly reduce the probability of risks to happen in an organization. There are six approaches to overcome resistance to change suggested by Kotter and Schlesinger, they are:

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1. Education and Communication

Communication educates and prepares employees of change process that they will be involved in, in a way that can reduce fear, anxiety, and resistance. Communication can also put a stop to misinformation and poor communication. It can be in many forms such as two-way communication and social media.

2. Participation and Involvement

Being committed to participate and involve in a work helps group members to exchange ideas and share usable information. Better ways of solving problems faced can be made, hence, better output.

3. Facilitation and support

The support from the manager or the change agent can assist them in adjusting to changes by helping them understand the reason behind the change and support employees when facing barriers such as dealing with fears that they might experience, such as job loss. This could be by equipping employees with training and education. Although it can be time consuming and tedious, it can help to overcome resistance to change.

4. Negotiation

Discuss situation and make decisions by compromising such as giving incentives. This can keep employees motivated and is commonly used when restructuring organizations.

5. Manipulation and cooptation

Fabricating resources or information to remove resistance,
involving using information in other ways to persuade those who are reluctant to change to behave in a preferred way. For example, by offering a better or higher position for those carrying out the change process. Although it can be unethical, sometimes it is the only way to encourage people to adapt to the change.

6. Coercion

This method can be applied in the form of explicit or implicit threatening of employees. For instance, the dismissal of jobs. It is best to avoid this method as it is risky and can affect employees’ attitudes negatively.

Theory of Organizational Changes

Kurt Lewin’s theory of change talks about the many forces that cause organization to resist and get attracted to change. Commonly there are two forces; push and pull forces. Forces of equilibrium is when resistance to change is equal to forces for change. Managers must be able to find ways to increase or reduce change, or both, to have a balanced level of performance in due time. Figure 1 shows the level X is in equilibrium when the forces for change and resistance to change arrow is equally same length arrow pointing down (resistance to change) with arrow pointing up (Force for change). To achieve performance level Y is by increase the force for change (more longer arrow) and reduce the resistance to change (shorten the arrows pointing down). If they able to apply it properly, they might be able to achieve Level Y high performance. Figure 2 is the three steps that change needs to be implemented by Lewin. The first stage (Unfreezing) involves finding a method that convinces employees to let go of an old pattern that was not really effective. This is the stage where the needs to change occurs. There are three methods by which unfreezing can be achieved; by increasing the driving forces that direct behavior away from an existing situation, by decreasing the restraining forces and lastly, by finding a combination of the two methods above. The second stage (Movement) involves a process of change of thoughts, feelings, behavior, or all three, that in some way creates more freedom or more productivity than doing things with the old pattern. The final stage (Refreezing), establishing the change as a new behavior or process, so that it now becomes the new standard to be maintained after the movement. Without this, old pattern will appear back unknowingly.

Case study


After World War 2, the Japanese auto market were destructing and American car manufacturers such as Ford were dominating the market. Taiichi Ohno, an engineer at Toyota, convinced his managers to implement the just-in-time approach to manufacturing due to the major problem. (Unfreezing) To explain further, Instead of ordering and storing a huge amount car supplies, with just-in-time approach, they receive them the moment when they are needed and manufacture it to prevent limit of inventory management. (Movement) Toyota then implemented the just-in-time approach. Though it didn’t happen overnight, Ohno’s recommended changes ended up transforming the Japanese automaker for the better. (Refreezing) Other than the theory mentioned, Lippitt’s theory can be applied to private sectors in Brunei Darussalam for visible improvements.

Using the Lippitt’s theory, taking example of Dr. Lee Clinic. From the process of assessing, the nurse would diagnose a detailed assessment of the patient such as, relevant clinical history or biographical details which is normally the initial part of the nursing process. Second is the planning stage where the nurse cooperates with the patient and staffs in possible ways to identify the needs of the patient. Implementation process then take place. In this phase, the nurse carries out the work, documenting what is agreed at the planning stage. Lastly is on evaluation, often during the period of care. Nurses evaluate continuously and relates back to the first phase. This provides opportunity for alteration of patient needs which can become necessary during the care period. Lewin’s model is very rational, goal and plan oriented but when implemented might lead to negative impacts due to lack of considering human feelings and experiences. Sometimes employees are eager about a new change, that they overcome the feelings, attitude or experience of other employees. Through the ongoing research, studies and constant review of our changing society and culture, a very good power or act of seeing situation on the appropriate change process are required. There is no right or wrong theory to change management.

Effective organizational change management

Good planning is essential for successful organizational change. Although, it is difficult and has many risks. Most organizations fall due to poor planning and the organizations that win is because they expect and are well-prepared for change. This is why an organization needs readiness to accept change. They reorganize the planning method through empowering key leaders and group members to research possible guides of action and develop the plan. Therefore, there are six steps to powerful organizational change management to make sure the employees are guided through the change journey.

Clearly explain the change and set to the business goals.

The first step in dealing with successful change is to clearly define the desired outcome of the change. Identify specific changes in order to clarify the objectives of the outcome. Determining what and why changes are required in the organization.

Determine impacts and those affected.

The second step is to decide the effects of the change at different organizational levels. Review the outcome on every business unit and how it flows through the organizational structure to the individual. This data will start to procedure the plan in which training and support is needed to moderate the impacts.

Develop a communication strategy.

Although employees need to be occupied on the change journey, the first two steps will have highlighted that employees actually need communication in order for change to take place, implementing the most effective means of communication for the group or individual that will bring them on board. The conversation method has to consist of a timeline for how the change can be incrementally communicated, key messages, and the communication channels.

Provide effective training.

It is important that employees obtain training, either from face-to-face training sessions or on-the-job training, to educate them on the change. This can improve their behaviours and skills which are required to achieve business results and clarify methods of training delivery that is most effective.

Implement a support structure.

Providing a support structure is important to help employees to emotionally and essentially modify to the change and to build skill of manners and technical abilities which
enhances business results. It is to determine where the support is most required and most effective.

Measure the change process.

During the change management process, a structure needs to be put in place to measure the business impact of the changes and make sure that continuous strengthening opportunity is created to build skills. We should also compare the change management plan to define its effectiveness and make a report for any lessons learned. For instance, did the change assist in achieving business goals or was the change management process successful.


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