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:
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
• 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
• poor timing—relation to external events magnifies negative aspects
• lack of tact—insensitivity to feelings/needs of others
• threat to job status/security—real or imagined sense of job loss
• breakup of work group—disrupting the social fabric of
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.
RESISTANCE TO 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
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:
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
• 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
• 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