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Change Resistance
Part 3 of 5

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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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People resist change for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are rational and well reasoned, while others are totally irrational and make no sense at all to others. Kreitner (7) presents a comprehensive list of reasons why people resist change:

• surprise—little or no warning presents a threatening sense of im­balance
• inertia—desire to maintain a safe, secure, predictable status quo
• misunderstanding/ignorance/lack of skills—improper communica­tion or introduction; lack of remedial or preparatory training
• emotional side effects—sense of loss over past ways of doing things
• lack of trust—promises of improvement fall on deaf ears as man­agement and workers don't trust each other
• fear of failure—perception of low likelihood of success prevents effort or intimidates
• personality conflicts—dislike or lack of respect for other partici­pants
• poor timing—relation to external events magnifies negative aspects ofchange
• lack of tact—insensitivity to feelings/needs of others
• threat to job status/security—real or imagined sense of job loss or change
• breakup of work group—disrupting the social fabric of long-stand­ing relationships.

In order to overcome resistance to change, both managers and work­ers need to be able to understand the source of such fears and concerns and to take steps to address them. Each group has a unique responsibil­ity to work toward the elimination of resistance and the achievement of effective, rapid change.


The Wyatt Work Study (6) reveals two fundamental things:

• Resistance to change is common in the workplace.
• Resistance can be minimized by focusing more on the human side
of change.

A number of tools and techniques have been used to overcome re­sistance to change. Since management commitment and involvement are frequently reported to be the single most important factor in the success or failure of large-scale change initiatives, most of the ap­proaches have a management flavor. This section will list and describe several approaches and the next section will examine them in relation to management and workers in the change process.
Klaus (6) presents a very simple, yet profound set of techniques for overcoming resistance. They are:

• Anticipate—Who and what will be affected? What technical and social issues will arise? What power and status issues will material­ize?
• Communicate—What, why, how and when of change. Honest in­formation about impacts. Chance for two-way exchange.
• Support—Time for venting and training. Management availability
and visibility. Clarity of vision and direction. Caudron (2) suggests a more lengthy set of techniques, including
• Become a scholar of the change process.
• Cultivate personal resilience
• Focus top management's energy on a key set of change initiatives.
• Know your purpose and vision.
• Involve employees in the change process.
• Establish performance measures.
• Let the external market guide decisions.
• Allow mistakes.
• Manage paradigm life cycles.
• Pursue continuous learning.
In her article, Caudron also refers to a list of techniques from Jenkins and Oliver (5), which include
• Accept your worth and acknowledge others' worth.
• Generate trust.
• Learn by empathy.
• Embrace change.
• Unleash the synergy.
• Discover champions, depend on masters and find a sage.
• Liberate decision-making.
Finally, Kreitner (7) presents a set of strategies that can be used, situationally, to overcome resistance. They are listed in order of effec­tiveness, from most to least effective:
• education and communication—advocates prevention rather than cure by helping workers understand the need for change and the logic behind it
• participation and involvement—defuses fears and provides a sense of personal ownership in the change
• facilitation and support—eases fear and anxiety through special training, counseling, and compensatory time-off
• negotiation and agreement—exchanges something of value for co­operation
• manipulation and co-optation—withholds information to alter out­comes or offers token participation
• explicit and implicit coercion—forces compliance by threat and

While the language and flavor of all these groups of techniques is different, there are some common threads with implications to both the manager and worker groups. The following section summarizes and describes these common keys to successful change.

To Be Continued


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