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Managing Organizational Change: Resistance to the Change Essay

In the ever-changing business environment, change is inevitable; changes in technology, competition, and customer preferences are among the changes that businesses have to face. To remain competitive amidst the changes, organizations need to adjust their processes and products accordingly.

When a business is undergoing a change process, it is likely to face resistance from internal (employees) and external (stakeholders) players. Psychologists define resistance to change as a natural reaction to uncertainty and/or unknown; a number of factors lead to change resistance (Laura-Georgeta, 2008). This paper analyzes the reasons that make individual resist change as well how management can implement change effectively.

Reason for the resistance

When a change is occurring in an organization, the management are the agents of change; the way the communicate the change to be implemented in an organization determines whether the change will be embraced by employees or they will resist it. Despite efforts made by management of a company to ensure that there is good communication, some personal and group attributes lead to resistance of change. Resistance to change can be divided into two areas as:

Managers’ resistance

Despite the fact that managers are seen as the change agents, there are times that they resist change; this however happens in areas that there is weak management: when referring to management, here the paper is more focused on line management and supervisors; their reasons for change are:

  • Fear of loss of power and control

Managers have pride in the power they have, when a change is being implemented, they are not aware that they will retain the power they are having; they thus are likely not to support the change.

  • Overload of current tasks, pressures of daily activities and limited resources

Stressed managers see change as another issue that will be added to their busy schedule thus they are more likely to resist the change as they feel it will add to the worries they already have.

  • Skepticism and disagreement about the need for change

Managers may have issues with the new change that is to be implemented, they may feel that the change is not warranted, they are not very sure that the change will be of good to the organization or will lead to issues in the organization (Diamond, 1986).

Employees’ resistance

For an effective change, employees are expected to support the change process and strongly support the change; depending with the angle one is looking at it, however they are mostly those employees who are the team members lead by a certain team manager. The following are the reasons why they are likely to resist change:

  • Fear of unknown

When a change is being implemented in an organization, it creates and uncertainty in the minds of the employees; they are not aware of what the change will have on them. They are not aware what will happen to their jobs, status ranks and even salaries, the truth of the matter is that there is always some effects on employees. They feel that the intended change will have a negative impact on their lives and thus they repel the change; the fear may be in one person or an entire department. Fear comes with repelling the intended change but also make a slowdown of the normal processes. The fear is seen like a wave of demonization prevailing in the organization.

  • Organizational culture and past experiences

Organizational culture is a set of belief that exists in an organization and determines how the employees interact with each other as well as how the workers respond to a certain situation. Culture of an organization determines how employees are going to perceive change; if an organization has a culture that sees change as a threat to their status quo, then the human capital are likely to resist change.

On the other hand, if in the future there was a change that injured some people in the organization, then the company is likely to face resistance, as people are likely to think they will suffer again (Ford, Ford And D’amelio, 2008)

The most important feature in a change management process

When an organization is implementing a change, the most important feature that must be considered all through the change process is change communication. A change always defines where an organization is and where it want to be; change agents have the role of pioneering their business to their intended destination; they must have a clear vision of what the future will look like.

The change agent or the originator of change may be a small group of people and sometimes may even be an individual; the change wanted should be communicated to the entire organization to facilitate its implementation. One most interesting aspect of change communication is that it appears across the entire process and pegged on communication within an organization.

In an organization, communication is the system through which management and the teams transfer information; it also covers how employees communicate with each other. An effective communication in an organization means that issues and progress of the business are discussed in a way that the target group gets the intended message.

the case of a management that does not maintain good relations that facilitate communication, then when change comers will be seen as a move by the management to make things happen. People will not be willing to come from their status quo and adopt the change but they will be willing to fight the change.

Resistance to change when there is no communication is even higher when groups in the organization join hands together to repel the change. There will be no one who really understands the need for the change since they are a distance with the management. For example incase an organization want to establish a computer network in its organization, the employees may feel they the change is coming to replace them. They are likely to refuse change.

The first step in successful change is to identify the communication weaknesses in a business. Such challenges can be obtained through reviewing the day-to-day activities of the business. Some questions may serve as a guideline, these include:

  • Have employees been provided with a good working environment? Are they happy with what they are doing?
  • Has the business been able to satisfy all the clients?
  • Is proper information provided to all stakeholders?
  • Is there good flow of conversations? Four communication weaknesses or barriers are overload of messages, failure to share information among major stakeholders, failure to include employees in decision-making processes, and personal attributes.

According to change gurus, an effective change management process should ensure that the change has been adopted in the minimal time and the response of staffs is positive; it should recognize that in the transition stage, business has to continue as usual; to let the people understand, this, and then it calls for massive communication.

In 1996, at Apple Inc. Steve jobs, introduced a freelance culture in the organization; the culture facilitated communication in the organization and when changes where implemented, the company was able to communicate and effect them effectively.

Employees are given many instructions and they are not given room to practice them nor to show their expertise. Communication means more than just giving out messages; it involves speaking, listening, sending, and receiving messages.

In communication, listening is the key to success and most of the time listening gets people into problems because they do not practice it. For business communication to be successful, listening has to be proficient. Listening simply means holding back one’s judgment and allowing answers to come from outside. This is not the case in staples where the managers decide what to do instead of receiving views from the other members of staff. Sharing of important information is poor and most of the time it is withheld from the staff.

In organizations that have good communication, the change can easily be implemented without much hassle; employees will have the chance of asking questions that make them fear and resist the change; this will facilitate an effective change process (Hansen and Gammel, 2008).

Organizational change is the style of managerial behavior

The leadership of an organization plays an important role in strategy development; they have the role of overseeing an effective change process, leaders are the change agents so they need to have accepted the change. Leader’s behavior and the attitude, the behavior and the attitude they have towards a change will affect the success of the change.

Developing efficiency in a business is the responsibility of leaders within the organization; different situations need different leaders. Team leaders have the role of developing orchestrate teams from groups in an organization; their decisions and the way they exercise their leadership power determines the success of their organization.

According to Situational Leadership theory, leaders are supposed to adopt a leadership skill that portray and reflect the needs of the time their organization is going through. In the case of change, they should read employees mode and adopt the best approach in such a situation.

Some changes may need the leader to use autocratic leadership style; for example, Mitsubishi has changed its production lines to have high water recycling strategies; when undertaking the changes, some employees services had to be shifted to other places and restructuring of the company made, in such situations managers needed not to consult their employees.

In most case when autocratic leadership is used when implementing change, it is when the industry is forcing change or change is from an external needs for example the need for environmental conservation in the world businesses are forced to effect the change with or without consultation of employees (Barbara and Jocelyne, 2006).

According to transformational theory of leadership, managing change is the main role of managers, under this theory the role of leadership in implementing and transforming performance of an organization; the theory mandates a leader to be changing agents in all decisions he makes.

Whether it is making a strategy, changing things, employing or another task within the organization is seen as change. The theory is of the opinion that business change day to day and managers have the role of seeing the success of the change process (Ian and Dunford, 2005).

In multinationals, when they want to diversify to other countries; there are high chances that they will change their management style and approach; in such a situation, then managers at a prescribed level should discuss and see the way forward, the change can only be effected with democratic form of leadership.

When undergoing a change process, staffs have a number of unanswered questions; if the leaders are not ready to answer questions posed by employees as well as manage fears that the employees have, employees are likely to see the move to change as unplanned and uncontrolled. Leaders are from the top most to the supervisors.

For example when automating a hotel, employees are not sure whether the automation has come to replace them, they are less willing to embrace the change and support it. Another example is in the implementation of a Health Information management system (HIMS) at John Hoskins Hospital, the system was initially repelled by staffs as they thought it has come to , change this usual way of life; the management had to adopt Consultative style of management where the leaders were seen on the ground trying to forge a way forward to the issue at hand.

If there has been no well ordinate communication, then the employees are likely to repel the change. Immediate team leaders are free with the employees and they should be willing and entertaining the change coming. If themselves they are not willing to change, the same will happen with their employees. When communicating the decision made by an organization to change, leaders are mandated with the task of airing these new to the employees. If they do not have the right characters to be able to manage effectively the transition period

Leaders are mandated with the task of leading the organization to its desired destination; they are the change agents. In transitional period, the leaders were the one who guided subordinates to the desired pathway that leads to the attainment of the changes required in the organization. They make rules and policies to be followed in attaining the goals: without disregarding their subordinates. Change needs to be planned at all, times when it is being implemented and conducted in such a way that it will be accepted in the business.


When implement changes within an organization, managers face resistance from internal customers (employees) and stakeholder. Despite the strong resistance, change is inevitable as the world undergoes changes in technology, competition, customer preferences, innovations, and invention. The major factors that lead to resistance to change are fear of unknown, fear to lose power, organizational culture, internal, and external factors to an organization.

Leaders have the role of seeing change implementation process a success; they should support change and aim at shortening the transformation period as well as reducing adverse effects to their business during the transition period. Effective change communication within an organization during change is crucial for a smooth transition.


Barbara, S. and Jocelyne F., 2006. Organizational change. Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Diamond, M. ,1986. Resistance To Change: A Psychoanalytic Critique Of Argyris And Schon’s Contributions To Organization Theory And Intervention. Journal of Management Studies, 23(5),PP. 543-562.

Ford, J., Ford, L. And D’amelio, A. ,2008. Resistance To Change: The Rest Of The Story. Academy of Management Review, 33(2), PP. 362-377.

Hansen, M. and Gammel, G.,2008. Management of Change. Professional Safety, 53(10),P. 41.

Ian, P. and Dunford, R.,2005. Managing Organizational Change. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Laura-Georgeta, T. ,2008. Change Management – Resistance to the Change. Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 17(4), Pp.622-624.

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