Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

The Other Side of Change Resistance

Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

The Other Side of Change Resistance

Article excerpt

Introduction

Change is a regular feature of organizational life and indeed, an inseparable aspect of nature while resistance is itself an inseparable aspect of change. This is primarily because people are uncomfortable with the new, the strange and the unknown and they would rather prefer stability even though progress is never attained by being static. Indeed, Lewin (1947), the grand-father of change management studies, believes that change initiatives always encounter strong resistance, even when there is general agreement on the goals of the initiatives; and that organizations are naturally highly resistant to change due to the human nature (behavior, habits, group norms) and organizational inertia. Pryor et al (2008) insist that resistance is a normal reaction to change and should be expected, a view similar to that of Kohles, Baker & Donaho (1995) who aver that transformational organizations should recognize normal resistance and plan strategies to enable people to work through it. But resistance to change (RTC) is a contentious and paradoxical concept. Robinson & Finley (1997) argue that because change outcomes are always disappointing, participants lower their expectations, dig in and stop changing or find better ways to change and no matter which of these three classic responses people make, change always "wins?. If we don? t embrace it, it overtakes us and hurts like; if we do try to embrace it, it still knocks us for a loop and if we try to anticipate it and be ready when it appears, we still end up on our knees. That is why people hate change; it is always painful even when self-administered (Robinson & Finley, 1997:1)

Marsh (2001) differs a little bit by categorizing the change participants into winners and losers; those who enjoy it and those who suffer it, declaring that only people who instigate change enjoy it while ot hers have to suffer it. D?Aprix (1996) states that 55% of organizational citizens is against any change while 85% is not ready to wholeheartedly commit their energies to it because anytime a major organizational change is announced fifteen percent of the staff are angry; forty percent fearful, skeptical, and distrustful, thirty percent uncertain but open; and only fifteen percent hopeful and energized. In effect, the change programme is DOA(dead on arrival). Furthermore, Strebel (1996) and Sopow (2007) insist that managers and staff perceive change differently; the former seeing it positively as a desirable way forward( of course, they are the instigators who would enjoy it-Marsh, 2001) while the latter see it as avoidable and unnecessary pain. Thus, for top level managers, change is an opportunity to strengthen the business by aligning operations with strategy, to take on new professional challenges and risks and to advance their careers but for many employees , change is neither sought after nor welcomed; it is disruptive and intrusive. It upsets the balance (Strebel; 1996). Also, while management says that the goal of change is to change the culture; create new and positive mindset that leads to better performance, employees however hear that those things that make them feel safe and provide a sense of predictability are about to disappear. It means messing with tried/tested traditions and ignoring many years of lessons (Sopow, 2007).

Most proponents of change also assume that enthusiastic support will be automatic because the objectives are worthwhile and obvious (Brown & Harvey 2006). But the people "on the other side? perceive things differently. They are forced to alter how they relate to others, their goals, processes, equipment, and reality and all these lead to anxiety (Marsh, 2001). They also continue with familiar strategies and behaviors, which have been successful in the past but which have now become inappropriate and ineffective and wonder why they no longer work while management is convinced that employees will automatically recognize its worth and to embrace it" (Gingerella, 1993). …

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