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Resistance To Change

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Category: Business

Autor: anton 08 March 2011

Words: 1128 | Pages: 5

Resistance to Change

Organizational change is the movement of an organization away from its present state and toward some desired future state to increase its effectiveness. (George et al, pg 567) Organizations need to change in the modern day market place. New technologies, globalization, foreign trade, investments and constantly shifting marketplaces demand the need for flexibility, adaptation, and change. The downside to this is in an organizations employees. People by nature resist change. In a workplace environment, where familiarity is present with an employees set of tasks and processes, change becomes more difficult to introduce and accept. There are basically three groups associated with a resistance to change. They are on an organizational level, group level, and individual level. I will address these different areas and offer a solution as to what I believe is the best way to deal with this resistance.

The first group is on an organizational level. Many forces inside an organization make it difficult for the organization to change in response to changing conditions in its environment. (George et al, pg 571) One such force is that of power and conflict. The basis for this resistance is if a change within an organization benefits one group, but hurts another, the benefiting group will push hard for the change while the group that is hurt by this change will resist it and fight against it. The conflict between the two groups will slow down the change and may even prevent it from happening.

Differences in functional orientation are another area that may cause resistance to change. Different functions and divisions of an organization tend to see the source of a problem with “tunnel” vision. In other words, because of their own viewpoints, these divisions see problems as they see them rather than looking at the problem unbiased. The result is organizational inertia, because the organization must spend vast amount of time to secure an agreement about the source of the problem before it can even consider how to respond to it. (George et al, pg571)

Mechanistic structure is the standardization of behavior through rules and procedures set forth through centralization in an organization. People who work in highly mechanistic structures are more resistant to change due to the expectation of performing tasks and duties in specific ways and so do not develop the initiative to adjust their behavior to changing conditions. This in turn causes the group to resist any changes in the norm.

Organizational culture is another resistance to change. Because an organizations norms and values causes people to react and operate in predictable ways, any disruption to these patterns of norms may cause people to be resistant to the changes.

At a group level, there are group norms which are strong informal norms that specify appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and govern interactions between group members. Change will inevitably alter these sets of informal norms. Group cohesiveness although beneficial to an organization, can sometimes impede the necessity for change within an organization. The reason is the group will unite to protect its status quo and protect its own interests at the expense of other groups. Finally groupthink, which is the discounting of negative information within a group in order to agree, and escalation of commitment, which the continued pursuit of an action even though the group realizes its decision was wrong, will greatly cause resistance to change. This is due to the difficulty in changing the groups behavior.

Finally, the individuals resistance to change comes in basically three forms. The first is due to uncertainty and insecurity. People inevitably resist change because of the unknowns associated with change. New roles and tasks may be given to employees, some employees may be terminated while others are promoted. These factors all cause uncertainty and insecurity and in turn, resistance to change. Selective perception and retention may be a cause for resistance. This is due to how employees perceive the changes in general. They may see changes effecting them in a negative fashion by way of few benefits to themselves and greater benefits to the organization. This in turn causes individuals to resist the proposed changes. The final resistance in the individual group is really what I opened the discussion with. It basically boils down to habit. Familiarity and habitual events and processes make change an enemy in the eyes of some individuals. Change will inevitably take them out of their comfort zone and introduce new and foreign tasks and procedures. This brings on resistance to change.

Because in this case we are talking about making changes in your sales division, I would look at a combination of group resistance as well as individual resistance. The sales department as a whole may be resistant due to the fact that the individuals work together to encourage each other, practice sales techniques, talk through tough sales and many other areas that may have caused them to become very cohesive. I would implement a plan of education and communication. Education and communication allows the group in question to gain insight into the changes that are in the works, and how these changes will affect them. In a sense you want to “sell” the changes to your sales force. A good salesperson doesn’t actually “sell” in terms of being a pushy used-car-type salesmen. Instead he educates the customer about the product and then communicates the benefits. It must be a win-win situation for everyone. (Schiffman, 1994) Change in increments is necessary to make adjustments for the marketplace. Through communication and education, you will be able to gain your employees cooperation and in turn nullify any resistance to changes now or in the future.

The second tool I would recommend using is that of participation and empowerment. Inviting your employees to participate in the change process gives them greater autonomy to change their work procedures and be involved in the decision making process. It may be worth your while if you aren’t already doing so, to encourage your sales force to share their skills and talents in order to facilitate the changes that are necessary. The old way of implementing change was the “this is the way its gonna be and you’ll like it” method. This method only angers people, and brings on resistance. Absenteeism and a high turnover rate is all that stems from this mindset of implementing change. I would encourage working with your sales force before, and throughout the period of change. This will show them you are working to make both the organization, and your sales force better.


George, J & Jones, G, Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior, 2005, Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River, NJ

Schiffman, Stephan, The 25 Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople, 1994, Published by Adams Media Corporation

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