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Key Issues

Find out about some of the key issues related to Managing Change, from the strategies implemented to overcoming any resistance to change.

Resistance to change

It is highly likely there will be resistance to any major changes in a business. This may be overt with complaints or covert where people just quietly do not fully cooperate. The likely reasons for resistance include self interest where people do not see the change being in their interest e.g. they lose a part of their job they enjoy or even fear losing their job. Other reasons for resistance to change could be a belief that it is the wrong strategy or misunderstanding of it as it has not been explained fully. Kurt Lewin recognised in his Force Field Analysis that in any change there are forces for change and restraining forces which are obstacles to change. Change will only happen when the forces for change are greater than the restraining forces so it is necessary to understand and deal with the restraining forces.

Strategies for managing change

The top managers of a business are usually involved in the change so will see the need for it before their employees. It is easy for them to assume that everyone will feel the same about the proposed changes as they do but as we have seen, this is often not the case. A successful change strategy will require consultation with and involvement with all people affected by the change. People must understand that the change is needed and be clear on what their new role will require. Project teams and workshops can be successful tools for achieving this.

Overcoming resistance to change

Remember that the commitment of the workforce to any change is vital. Several techniques can be used to overcome the resistance. Explaining the need for the change is essential. This means effective communication and encouraging and dealing with any objections. It may be necessary to negotiate with staff as the more they are involved in the change, then the greater will be their commitment. This may involve unions, work councils or the whole workforce. The training implications need to be fully considered in any change as staff who were previously competent but whose job role now changes will need to be reassured that they will have the skills for their new role. Considering resistance to change in the light of motivation theory can be useful. Employees are less likely to be motivated if they are feeling insecure so reassurance as part of the communication can be important. If redundancy is necessary it must be done quickly and with as much consideration as possible.