“Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive
on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the
status quo and strongly resist any change. It is all down to the personality of
the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to
change (Mullins 2010: 753)”
The successful implementation 0f change in a workplace is highly dependable on the willingness and corporation of the staff and people involved (Mullins 2010). Atkinson (2005:15) also indicates that the major problem with change is how to deal with and manage the resistance that will be encountered in the course of the change initiation. While Stewart (1999:161) believes that for there to be a successful change in the structure of the organization, there need to be a change in its culture too. This view is also supported by Naylor (2004:79) who believes that in a holistic system, change will affect the culture and culture will affect the constrain of the change. Every institution or community has different set of people, people who are very willing to let go their current status quo and embrace change and others who regards change as being a no go factor will resist change and make the entire change process difficult for the change initiator.
This blog shall therefore analyze why some individuals embrace change and why others resist, examine the role of managers in avoiding or over coming resistance to change, look at industry examples on how change has been initiated and concludes on how change could be managed.
Mullins (2010) categorizes the reasons for change resistance into two; individual and organizational resistance. While individuals start being scared of losing old habits, loss of freedom, economic implications as well as fear of the unknown in the event of a change, organizations look at their culture, stability, investment in resources and threats or other influences which make them to consider change as a no go zone (Mullins 2010).
Cunningham (2005:37) is of the opinion that people actually love change especially when such changes come along with improvement in communication and other benefits. Resistance most of the time comes as a result of rumor mongering that individuals will lost a whole range of privileges. If communication like Nedler and Tushman (1990) indicate is well effected in the change process, then the change will be smooth with less resistance.
Lewin (1951) in his planned change and improvement performance model brings out a three phase process of behavioral modification which managers can use in change implementation and avoidance of resistance. This include unfreezing and making members to recognize the need for change; movement by developing new attitudes and implementation of change at work place and refreezing by stabilizing change at the new level. The process phase put forward by Christensen and Overdorf (2000:67-76) is vital as it will help managers to effectively communicate the change and make employees fully implement such change without a lot of assumptions. Finally, the eight actions to secure effective change by Kotter and Cohen (2002) are vital for any manager who wants to secure change and avoid resistance. Managers therefore need to effectively study and consider them in the course of the change implementation.
In the JCPenny case of remaking its organizational culture (ICMR 2007), there was the need for a change as its culture was becoming highly unpopular due to its set of decorum and as such, the outside environment became aware of the culture and the company could no longer attract new talents. The appointment of a new CEO- Ullman marked the beginning of changes in the century old JCPenny culture. Ullman started by unfreezing and diagnosing the problem and creating the urgency in the need for change in JCPenny’s culture. He then went to the movement point where innovations such as “Just Call me Mike” or the use of first name, the removal of the too formal dress code, the disband of the fashion police and the appointment of new personnel into top positions. After its success, Ullman then went to the final stage of Lewin (1951) model of refreezing and stabilizing the new culture by creating a Retail Academy and increasing training for staff and employees. Though this change was not without resistance, it ended up being successful because proper research on what needed to be changed was done, enough time was given for the parties involved to adapt and there was effective communication.
Managing change is a critical success factor for the effective change implementation and so managers need to ensure that change is well managed. To successfully manage change, the manager need to develop a change management strategy, prepare the change management team, carry out the change action plan and then move forward to the collection of back and corrections (CMLC 2013). As a manager, you need to ensure that you do not sell change to the employees; rather you should communicate it and make sure that those involved understand the need and urgency for change. Also, the manager needs to ensure that those who are to be affected by the change all agree to it for if they fail to agree, they will be the first to resist such change. Finally, I would like to agree with the Institute for Leadership (DTI 2004) that to keep followers motivated during change initiation in an organization, leaders must be able to create organizational cultures that foster not only performance but also a sense of pride and fun for culture evolves over so many years and changing it requires a lot of skills.
List of references
Atkinson, P. (2005) Managing Resistance to Change, management Services. Cited in Mullins, L. J. (2010) Management & Organizational Behaviour. Essex: Financial Times Pitman Publishing
Career Management and Learning Center (2013) Stages of Change Implementation. [Online] available from < http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/cmc> [22 June 2013]
Christensen, C.M and Overdorf, M. (2000) Meeting the Challenge of Disruptive Change, Harvard Business Review, vol 78 No 2
Cunningham, I. (2005) ‘Influencing People’s Attitude to Change’. Professional Manager 4 (3)
ICMR Center for Management Research (2007) Remarking JC Penney’s organizational culture
Institute for Leadership DTI (2004) Insight into People who inspire Exceptional Performance. Cited in Mullins, L. J. (2010) Management & Organizational Behaviour. Essex: Financial Times Pitman Publishing
Kotter, J. P. and Cohen, D. S. (2002) ‘The Heart of Change’. Harvard Business School Press
Lewin, K. (1951) Field Theory in Social Science, Harper and Row. Cited in Mullins, L. J. (2010) Management & Organizational Behaviour. Essex: Financial Times Pitman Publishing
Mullins, L. J. (2010) Management & Organizational Behaviour. Essex: Financial Times Pitman Publishing
Naylor, J. (2004) Management. 2nd edn Financial Times, Prentice Hall
Nedler, D. A. and Tushman, M. L. (1990) ‘Beyond the Charismatic Leader: Leadership and Organizational Change’, California Management Review 33 (2), 77-79
Steward, R. (1999) the reality of management, 3rd edn, Butterworth Heinemann