Managing Resistance to Change

In the world of fierce competition and changing strictures by the governments, change is inevitable for any organization and crucial to its profitability and survival. However, any change- be it in technology, strategies or manpower, has a potential to lead to disruption in organizational work as well as interaction patterns. Inherently, people tend to resist change if they have not been adequately informed about it. The reasons are generally their own insecurities about economic loss, uncertainty, inconvenience and a sudden break in the pattern of their social life.

Strategic management has some basic ingredients like reward systems, operations, culture, HR policies, training, CSR, etc. Frequent reorientation is best avoided because it is not easy to get everyone to understand, think and work strategically in the same spirit. We find that as a mode of displaying their resistance to change, workers often resist strategy implementation by absenteeism, sabotaging machines, spreading destructive, wild rumors, airing false complaints, etc.

Quite often, resistance to change is noticed simply because of the lack of awareness and understanding of its need. When managers do no pay adequate attention to the fear of the unknown amongst their employees, they land into a classic resistance trap which ought to be addressed at the earliest.

How to Manage Resistance to Change

  1. Effective Communication – Communication is the key to preventing misinformation as well as rumor mongering. It helps dispelling fears and makes everyone in the organization feel a part of strategy implementation.
  2. Proper Planning– Setting a stage for change is as important as implementing it subsequently. Proposed changes should be worked out in detail so that they can last a reasonable period of time without resorting to frequent changes. It is also important to allow time to reflect upon various repercussions. This would include retention, relocation, training, financial expenditure, perceived need, influence on the morale, reward structure, etc.
  3. Protection of Interests– No change can occur without minor impact on someone or the other. It is therefore important to offer an umbrella of protection to those employees who are potentially likely to suffer some damaged by its implementation. Never implement a policy that leads to reductions in pay or makes a lower grade as far as job classifications are concerned.
  4. Man Management– The strategies for those employees who are likely to be retrenched or would be unhappy with the change should include –
  • Voluntary transfers
  • Allowing them to bid for new jobs/higher grades.
  • Provide generous allowances where retrenchment is unavoidable so that employees feel that their interests have been adequately addressed.
  • Ensure that the dignity of the workers is maintained.
  • Rewarding those who react positively to the change.
  • Providing retraining opportunities
  • Ensure higher pay for demanding positions.
  • Provide adequate financial incentives
  • Keep in mind the older employees and give preference to them over the new ones.
  • Involve them in planning and implementation of the change

It is important to develop the organizational climate that is conducive to change. Changes should be made as gradually as possible. Remember, people tolerate evolution much more than revolution. Therefore, preparations for change should be made in such a manner that it smoothens the transition.

A pragmatic approach to planning can make all the difference. A good manager should have the foresight and plan in advance about the envisaged changes that any new policy will bring about and take appropriate steps keeping all these points in kind. Any negligence of symptoms of resistance can have long term ramifications.