Resistance to Change, Traditional vs. Modern Perspective
Handling Resistance To Organizational Change A framework for companies, showing the preeminent method to handle resistance to change By Ilona van Rooij, Michelle Hieltjes and Sophie Peeman Abstract This paper has a clear aim at creating a framework for companies, showing the preeminent method of handling resistance to change. A thorough literature study revealed two distinctive perspectives, with different strategies, advantages and disadvantages. The traditional perspective takes a more negative stance towards resistance to organizational change. There is a clear focus on reducing or even eliminating resistance.
More recently, a new and more positive view emerged, stating that resistance is useful and therefore needs to be encouraged. A comparison is made between these two types and ultimately, a theoretical framework is created, combining the best of both perspectives. Although some techniques from the traditional perspective are used, there is a greater tendency towards the positive way of approaching resistance to organizational change Key Words: Organizational change; Resistance to change; Traditional perspective; Modern perspective; Positive approach; Blockers and Champions; Theoretical Framework.
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Table of Content How can resistance to organizational change be defined? 5 Organizational change5 Resistance to change6 The Negative and Positive Perspective towards Resistance6 1. The traditional view of approaching and managing resistance to change8 Freeze environment9 Facilitation and support10 Negotiation and agreement10 Manipulation and coercion10 Pessimistic approach11 Time consuming11 Short term solutions11 2. The modern view of approaching and managing resistance to change13 Encourage resistance through a culture of Openness and Flexibility14
Empower middle management to interpret and adapt the change14 Appreciate the critical attitude towards assumptions14 Use resistance as a mean to keep the topic alive15 Create a high level of commitment through resistance15 Practical danger16 Ethical challenge17 Theoretical limitation17 3. Introduction to the framework18 Explanation of the model18 Unfreeze phase19 Change phase19 Refreeze phase20 Cause and Effect Relations21 Conditions22 Discussion22 Bibliography24 Appendix 1 Framework ‘Handling resistance to change’25 How can resistance to organizational change be defined? Organizational change
In order to define resistance to organizational change, it is necessary to explain what is meant with the term organizational change first. In general the term stands for the adoption of a new idea or type of behavior by an organization (Liberatore, Hatchuel, Weil and Stylianou, 2000). Changes can be defined along a continuum, from small adaptations to strategic revolutions (del Val and Fuentes, 2003). In literature often the two extreme types are described, operational and transformational change, however, it should be kept in mind that real changes are not a pure type but a mixture.
Organizational change has been a widely discussed topic in business research and various authors have given different names to these types of change, for instance first-order and second-order change, operational and transformational change and continuity and radical change (del Val and Fuentes, 2003; Chun-Fang, 2010). All these terms carry the same meaning and intention. To be consistent the terms operational and transformational change are chosen for this paper.
Operational changes are often minor improvements occurring naturally as an organization grows and therefore, does not necessarily require organized intervention. Modeling is one of the main contributors. This type of change focuses on improving routines, issues and organizational processes in different areas of the business (Liberatore et al. , 2000; del Val and Fuentes, 2003; Chun-Fang, 2010). Transformational change, on the other hand, includes a redesign or renewal of the total organization, in other words a qualitative alteration of an organization’s rules, culture and structure (Chun-Fang, 2010).
The key determinant of this type of change is leadership in the form of a committed team of leaders and managers that steer the effort. Transformational change can be difficult and a comprehensive study of an organization’s culture, core process structures, management, decision-making and strategy can be considered a necessity (Chun-Fang, 2010). Next to a necessity, change is normality (Mahin, 2010; Hallencreutz and Turner, 2011). Companies need to adapt to the continuously changing economic environment, customer and client expectations and a shifting workforce.
Disturbing is the fact, that it is estimated that 70% of organizational change initiatives, in this context transformational, fail completely and of the changes which do proceed, 75% fails to achieve the intended result (Hallencreutz and Turner, 2011). Several reasons for failure are given in literature, of which one of them is resistance of the workforce. Resistance to change As the name suggests, resistance to change describes an uncooperative stance of employees towards change (Thomas & Hardy, 2011). It can be considered a usual reaction of people confronted with change (Sweers and Desouza, 2010).
According to Ansoff (1990, paraphrased in del Val and Fuentes, 2003) resistance is a phenomenon affecting the change process, through delaying its beginning, hindering implementation and increasing its costs. Other authors, however, described resistance as any conduct that tries to keep the status quo (del Val and Fuentes, 2003). Another point of view is the behavioral momentum theory (Bell, Gomez, & Kessler, 2008), which is a general theory of behavior that accounts for responses where behavior is disrupted.
From that perspective resistance to change is a type of response when behavior is disrupted. Edmonds (2011) distinguishes four categories, reflecting characters of employees within the company during change: blockers, sleepers, preachers and champions. The blockers are those who obstruct or try to prevent the change from happening. The sleepers, on the other hand, do not care or lack awareness of the change. Preachers, are the employees with power but who do not consider change a priority. Finally, the champions are the advocates of the change. The Negative and Positive Perspective towards Resistance
In literature, two dominant yet contrasting approaches can be identified: the demonizing versus the celebrating of resistance to change (Thomas & Hardy, 2011). For a long time, the assumption that resistance constitutes a problem for an organization, has been the leading thought in both theory and practice. As a result many change models are focused on developing effective communication strategies in order to avoid resistance. In addition, a substantial amount of studies were focused on investigating causes and potential solutions in order to overcome the obstacle of resistance (Thomas & Hardy, 2011).
According to Welch and McCarville (2003), resistance of employees can even be perceived as one of the main reasons for failure of organizational change. More recently, a different perspective has emerged, which views resistance as part of successful change rather than an obstacle. Mahin (2010, p. 1795) defines resistance as “a behavioral reaction or symptom of distress, intended to reduce distress level. ” From this perspective, resistance serves three positive purposes. First of all, it is a signal, warning people that something is wrong and the problems behind it need to be found.
Secondly, it serves to manage or control the distress coming from change. Finally, resistance shows commitment of employees towards the current structure. It is argued that the traditional mindset has not provided sustainable ways of managing change and can even interfere with successful change (Thomas & Hardy, 2011). 1. The traditional view of approaching and managing resistance to change Resistance to change is defined as the unwilling attitude of employees towards an alternation of an organization’s environment, structure, technology, or people (Robbins & Cenzo, 2008).
The majority of the literature discusses reducing or even eliminating resistance to organizational change. This approach is called the traditional approach and will be discussed in this chapter. The traditional approach comes with appropriate strategies for supporting this perspective, which all have positive and negative consequences for the company. The core idea behind the strategies is to reduce or eliminate resistance to change. Definition of the traditional perspective In the 1940s, the idea of removing resistance was first introduced in order to manage proposed changes occurring within organizations.
It was stated that any potential change is resisted by forces in the opposite direction (Fiedler, 2010). The traditional perspective sees resistance to organizational change as dysfunctional and suggests strategies to reduce or avoid it. Many see change as a threat, because the outcome is less certain than leaving things as they are (Hoag, Ritschard, & Cooper, 2002). Some prior studies indicated that this resistance is one of the reasons for the failure of change implementations (Kwahk & Lee, 2008).
Welch and McCarville (2003) state that resistance of employees can even be perceived as the main reason for failure of organizational change. This view resulted in another point of view from the traditional perspective. Resistance is explicitly considered from a risk management perspective (Fiedler, 2010), which means that there is a significant chance that resistance can negatively impact the change implementation. Employees can react to job movements by quitting, being absent, restricting output and showing hostility towards management. This behaviour constitutes resistance to change (Thomas & Hardy, 2011).
Much resistance is driven by basic socio-psychological needs for security consistency, predictability, and stability in life (Mahin, 2010). As resistance is one of the causes of project failures, the traditional perspective states that it has to be reduced as much as possible. Understanding and managing resistance are, therefore, important determinants during the change process. The traditional strategies to manage resistance to change Clearly, there is no fundamental resistance to every change and resistance is not necessarily an irrational response or a misguided reaction to a necessary innovation (Jiang, Muhanna, & Klein, 2000).
To overcome resistance, researchers have proposed a variety of strategies, which can be classified into two categories: Participative and directive strategies (Jiang, et al. , 2000). Participative strategies include several variables that clearly indicate a participative management style (Lumpkin & Dess, 1995). Directive strategies highlight the manager’s right to manage change with little or no involvement of other people (Wyszewianski & Green, 1999). Freeze environment A possible strategy is to enhance the forces driving change and reduce or remove the resisting forces.
Kurt Lewin developed a model that supports the idea that successful change rests in unfreezing an established situation and refreeze the situation in a new state. During the change, there are three stages to consider (Kent, 2001). The first step is to unfreeze an organization. In other words, the organization has to be receptive to change. People will naturally resist change, when they do not recognize the need for it. Managerial communication about this need for change will influence the satisfaction with organizational change (Brewer & Hensher, 1998). There are different ways to unfreeze an organization.
Examples are the use of a consultant to do a survey feedback, setting up a committee to investigate the problem or organizing training programs. To avoid resistance to change, people must not have the feeling someone is telling them what to do, that they have been doing the job wrong and they have to change (Kent, 2001). In step two the organization should install the change. One of the most common ways to overcome resistance to change is to educate people both on beforehand and during the change (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). Communication of ideas helps people see the need to change.
The education process can involve discussions, presentations to the groups, and reports. The last step is refreezing the organization (Kent, 2001). This means that the organization must not continuously change the same activity or process. To eliminate resistance to organizational change, employees need to get used to the way things are done. When managers say that a project has been implemented successfully, and still they announce more changes in the same activity or process, the employees will distrust the intentions and results and eventually resist it.
Facilitation and support When employees are resisting because of adjustment problems, no other approach works as well as facilitation and support. The process might include providing training in new skills, or giving employees time off after a demanding period. This training and rewarding system can result in reducing or even eliminating the resistance to change, because an employee is stimulated. An important determinant is that the employee is only rewarded when the goals and objectives are attained with the allocated means.
The strategy of facilitation and support is a highly expensive and time consuming method and the results are not always successful (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). Negotiation and agreement Another way to cope with resistance to organizational change is to offer incentives to potential resisters. For example, management could give people a higher wage rate in return for a work rule change. This can be highly effective when someone is going to lose out as a result of change, but his resistance is influencing other employees in the organization. On the short term, this is a relatively easy and cheap way to avoid resistance.
However, there is a change that the manager opens himself up for blackmail, since he has revealed that there is an opportunity for negotiation (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). On the long term, this results in high costs. Manipulation and coercion In several situations, managers use the strategy of manipulation. This involves securing an outcome one prefers by selecting a strategy other than the one that honestly represents one’s preferences (Gibbard, 1973). It is about the selective use of information (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). One common form of manipulation is co-optation.
This means that the change managers subjectively choose who gets a key role in the change process. Since managers often deal with resistance coercively (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008), there is also a strategy that forces employees to accept a change by threatening, firing or transferring people. Logically, this is a risky strategy, because people inevitably dislike forced change. The advantages and challenges of the traditional view on resistance to change As discussed before, Welch and McCarville (2003) state that resistance of employees can be perceived as the main reason for failure of organizational change (Fiedler, 2010).
The main positive effect of the traditional view on resistance to change is, therefore, the opportunity to avoid, reduce or even eliminate resistance to organizational change. Once the strategies are persuaded, and the resistance is reduced or eliminated, employees will often even help with the implementation of the change. In general, the traditional strategies are very cheap on the short term and easy to apply in the organization (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). However, the traditional approach also has some disadvantages (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008).
The three most common ones will be discussed in the remainder of this chapter. Pessimistic approach The traditional approach is very clear about resistance to organizational. As it discusses reducing or even eliminating this resistance, it is a very pessimistic approach. Next to this view, a more positive attitude towards change has emerged (Liberatore, Hatchuel, Weil, & Stylianou, 2000; Mahin, 2010; Schuler, 2003; Thomas & Hardy, 2011). However, the traditional perspective has no faith in the opinions of employees and does not use their resistance as a feedback.
In general, the practice is never as black-and-white as the traditional approach assumes. Time consuming To avoid, reduce or eliminate resistance to change, different strategies are possible. Most of these strategies, such as focusing on education, communication, support and facilitation, can be very time consuming. The reason for this is that a lot of managers and employees are involved and participating in discussions and complex subjects (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). The traditional method approaches these discussions and subjects as redundant and prefers to use the precious time for other value-added activities.
Short term solutions Other strategies, like manipulating and coercing resistance to change, are only solutions on the short term. As their impact is very negative, any person would instinctively dislike the methods (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). Manipulation can lead to problems with the manager-employee relation, as soon as the employees feel manipulated. Coercion can even make employees feel mad (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). The following table 1. 1 shows strategies of the traditional approach and their advantages and drawbacks (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). Table 1. 1 Methods for dealing with resistance to change . The modern view of approaching and managing resistance to change A significant amount of literature has been about overcoming, reducing or even eliminating resistance to change. This traditional approach is discussed in the previous chapter. Next to this view a more positive attitude towards change has emerged. This modern perspective comes with different strategies of approaching and managing resistance and its own advantages and disadvantages. The core idea behind the positive strategies to approach and manage resistance to change are to build upon resistance instead of trying to reduce or eliminate it.
Definition of the modern perspective As shortly discussed in the definitions chapter, the more contemporary view on resistance to change has a clear focus on the positive side of resistance. In literature resistance is seen as a behavioral reaction of distress, with the intention to reduce it again (Mahin, 2010). Following this explanation resistance has a rather positive intention. Employees show commitment towards the company as it is. In addition, the positive view towards resistance actually states there is no independent phenomenon such as resistance.
It only exists when change agents label certain actions of change recipients as resistant behavior (Ford, Ford and D’amelio, 2008; Thomas and Hardy, 2011), while resistance is more an interplay between the two opposite parties, the change agents and the change recipients, are just trying to reach a new balance. When resistance is seen as obstructive behavior of employees or other stakeholders, the role of the change agent regarding the existence of resistance is excluded (Ford et al. , 2008), while it carries the same significance as that of the recipients.
From this perspective, it can be concluded that the traditional way of approaching resistance obstructs successful change, as it is an incomplete view. Resistance can benefit the organization (Perren and Megginson, 1996; Ford et al. , 2008; Thomas and Hardy, 2011). It can be perceived as a natural survival system of organizations in order to stop wrong or lacking decisions from execution (Perren and Megginson, 1996). Resistance should be seen as a value-adding resource and significant asset in the implementation and management of change (Ford et al. 2008). Hence, resistance should be stimulated and celebrated (Perren and Megginson, 1996; Thomas and Hardy, 2011). The modern strategies to manage resistance to change Encourage resistance through a culture of Openness and Flexibility According to the positive approach, subordinates, or the change recipients might resist by means of a counter-offer (Ford et al. , 2008; Thomas and Hardy, 2011), a move not immediately rejecting the proposed change but requesting some accommodation.
As a strategy of managing and using this resistance, change agents should be flexible and willing to accept some degree of negotiation and adaption. Following this view it can also be argued that the change agents themselves can be resistant to the ideas, proposals and counteroffers submitted by change recipients, causing a significant change to fail (Ford, Ford and D’amelio, 2008). Not solely the change agents need to adapt, such an approach only works when also the change recipients are willing and able to make counter-offers in order to negotiate (Thomas and Hardy, 2011).
So for the company it is vital to create or sustain a culture of openness and flexibility during the management of change. Empower middle management to interpret and adapt the change Middle management can make an important contribution to change through their critical approach towards change agents (Thomas and Hardy, 2011). They may be particularly valuable as they are often able to combine their interpretation of the firm’s objectives with the rich complexity of their specific department (Perren and Megginson, 1996).
Perren and Megginson (1996) even suggested that middle management can be considered a vital link between the future orientation of a company and daily operational activities. Resistance from this level of management within the company can provide useful insights for change agents, about possible future problems the change can give on an operational level. As change often originates from a higher strategic management level, a good interpretation and adaption by middle management to assure performance on a functional level, can be considered a crucial aspect for successful change.
In order to stimulate this, middle management needs to be empowered to “translate” the purpose of the change towards their department. Appreciate the critical attitude towards assumptions Similarly, employees and other stakeholders of the company have the ability to improve change initiatives by challenging the “logical” assumptions made by the change agent. It is argued that this critical attitude has the potential to lead to a better change (Perren and Megginson, 1996; Thomas and Hardy, 2011).
By questioning the ideas and assumptions, a deeper level can be reached, which can lead to the real causes of the change, and this might lead to more thoughtful ideas. In addition, different stakeholders have different perspectives, which can result into insights which hadn’t been thought of before. Use resistance as a mean to keep the topic alive One of the challenges of implementing change is getting new conversations heard. Hence, creating familiarization among the change recipients with the change topics (Ford et al. 2008). Resistance to change can be of great value to reach this goal. Initially, it does not matter whether people are talking about the change in a positive or negative manner, because either way provides attention to the issue. In addition, resistance keeps this debate going during the change (Ford et al. , 2008). A good example of this was the launch of a new product by a pharmaceutical company: “Using [the] data was very strong, something like “shock therapy,” but it gave us the opportunity to get our foot in the door.
We wanted as many people as possible talking about the issue; we wanted to create a debate. In the beginning, we weren’t concerned whether people were talking in a positive or even a negative way, because either way, it was bringing attention to our issue. ” (Reputation Management, 1999: 59). Talking in a negative way, for a long time, has been labeled as resistance, a negative phenomenon needed to overcome. In this example it becomes clear that resistance can have a function in keeping the topics of change into conversations of the change recipients.
Furthermore it provides change agents with the opportunity to further explain and legitimize the change and change recipients receive the chance to interpret and contribute via lively debates (Ford et al. , 2008) Create a high level of commitment through resistance Two attitudes can be determined for both acceptance and resistance of change: thoughtful and a more careless attitude (Ford et al. , 2008). The former is based on high levels of information processing, resulting in a well-considered resistant or accepting position towards change.
Resistance shows great commitment of this type of employees and stakeholders towards the company, as a significant amount of energy is put into understanding the change (Ford et al. , 2008). When, after negotiation and heavily analyzing the effects of the change, the concept is finally accepted and thus the resistance is converted, these people are changed from the blockers to the motivated advocates, or so-called champions (Edmonds, 2011), during the change. Although the more careless group of employees might be easier to persuade, their lack of commitment will damage the change and even the organization on the long term (Ford et al. 2008). This damage results from the lack of interest and effort these people bring into the company and the transformational change. These employees are the sleepers, not really aware of or interested in the change (Edmonds, 2011). Or they might also be the preachers, powerful employees not really interested in the change but still rejecting it. A matrix based on a combination of the theories of Ford et al. (2008) and Edmonds (2011) is given in figure 2. 1. Seeing the blockers as a way of creating more champions should be of higher priority to change agents than trying to eliminate resistance as a whole.
Thoughtful resistance is extremely valuable to the change process and creating commitment on the long term (Ford et al. , 2008). The advantages and challenges of the modern view on resistance to change The main positive aspect of the modern view is the opportunity of gaining additional knowledge, commitment and innovation by incorporating resistance into the change process, which would otherwise have been lost (Thomas and Hardy, 2011). By just viewing resistance as a negative obstacle, changes might fail and damage the company as not all perspectives were taken into account.
The application of strategies of building upon resistance can enhance commitment by all stakeholders towards the change on both the short and long term. For example, a change initiative might be very harmful to some stakeholders, awareness of this can be valuable in making the decision to continue with the proposed change, adapt it or cancel it. Resistance can be used as a core competency of the change concept, really exploiting all possibilities this behavior offers. However it also has some disadvantages on a practical, ethical and theoretical level (Thomas and Hardy, 2011). Practical danger
First of all, this perspective needs change agents to be responsive towards counter-offers and careful with dismissing them as negative resistant behavior. Hence, there should be willingness and ability to evaluate, asses and appropriately incorporate counter-offers into the change plan. However, assessing the level of improvement for the change effort made by a counter-offer might be more difficult than it sounds. Alternative offers add to the complexity of the change and when individuals are confronted with difficult problems, they will always try to simplify the decision making (Thomas and Hardy, 2011).
In other words, there will be a tendency of preferring information supporting a chosen alternative rather than actually engaging into forming new alternatives implementing conflicting ideas. This is particularly the case when change agents have a monopoly in deciding if change initiatives should be incorporated at all (Thomas and Hardy, 2011). In addition, a company often does not consist out of solely committed members. A large share might be careless stakeholders, not really committed to the company or the change. Resistance from this group is not valuable as their arguments are not justified or grounded by truly thoughtful arguments.
Building upon this type of resistance will damage the change or might even harm the company as committed and thoughtful people do not take changes serious anymore. Ethical challenge Furthermore, there is an ethical challenge. It is essential that the change agents have a positive mindset towards resistance and will not immediately see criticism as opposite of organizational interests. For instance, if the company encourages resistance, but employees are penalized because the change agents perceive their challenges as antithetical to organizational interests, the whole system will not work (Thomas & Hardy, 2011).
So, there should be clear agreements on what is acceptable and what is not. Theoretical limitation The theoretical limitation accounts for both the traditional, as the modern view on resistance to change. The fact that in theory a clear distinction is made between the change recipient and the change agent is not in line with situations in practice. For instance, a middle manager can be both a change agent and a resistant change recipient. The identity is not fixed. Labeling an individual as either a change agent or a recipient, and basing strategies on this, might be inapplicable and problematic in practice. . Introduction to the framework As we have seen, there are two different perspectives on resistance to change. The first one that has been explained is the traditional approach, that sees resistance to organizational change as dysfunctional and suggests strategies to reduce or avoid it. Examples of these strategies are facilitation and support (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008), in which training and rewards are the central issues and negotiation and agreement (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008), that can be explained as offering incentives to resisters.
The main advantage of this traditional perspective and belonging strategies is the fact that it is often relatively low cost and uncomplicated to apply in an organization. On the other hand, there are also numerous disadvantages, of which the pessimistic approach and the fact that it is more focusing on short term solutions can be seen as the key issues (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). The second perspective suggests that resistance is an opportunity for improvements rather than a phenomenon that should be avoided (Perren and Megginson, 1996; Ford et al. , 2008; Thomas and Hardy, 2011).
This modern approach can be followed using different strategies, for instance empowering middle management to interpret and adapt change (Thomas and Hardy, 2011; Perren and Megginson, 1996) or to use resistance as a mean to keep the topic alive (Ford et al. , 2008). The strength of this modern approach is primarily the opportunity of gaining additional knowledge, commitment and innovation by incorporating resistance into the change process, which would otherwise have been lost (Thomas and Hardy, 2011). However, in order to make use of this opportunity, managers with a positive mindset and committed employees are needed, which makes this odern perspective not always easy to apply in an organization. Explanation of the model Since both the traditional and the modern perspective contain advantages and disadvantages, a new model is suggested that combines the strengths of both strategies. This model is applicable for any organizational change in any sector, but it is important to state that a number of conditions must be satisfied in order for the model to be successful. These circumstances will be explained after the model itself has been described. The model can be found in appendix 1.
In general, the phases of the model are based on the freeze environment strategy (Kurt Lewin) that derived from the traditional perspective. It includes the three steps of unfreeze, change and refreeze that suggest a company to liquidize the current situation in order to change and, finally, refreeze again to ensure stability within the organization. The arrow underneath the model allows the process to be continues, meaning that after any organizational change the company gain experience, and based on this learning and innovation, new ideas for changes will arise.
However, one should keep in mind that stability within the organization is vital, and thus, the process should not occur too often. All different boxes within the model are connected trough lines, which indicates that all steps are interrelated, meaning that one results in another and the other way around. Unfreeze phase The whole process starts with initiating transformational change, which basically implies the need for a change. Before the actual change process can start, three smaller aspects are involved, of which the first one is a culture of flexibility and openness.
This includes the ability for employees on all levels within the organizations to share their ideas concerning the change, and, maybe even more important, the ability of the organization to listen to these ideas and their willingness to act upon them. In order to achieve this, committees should be set up. These committees should enable the employees to share their ideas and interests and collect all of these thoughts in order to compare and analyze them to finally give recommendations on the change. As mentioned, employees on all levels within the organization should be encouraged to share their interests, which can nly be done trough engaging middle management. The importance of this step can be explained by the operational level of the company. Decisions taken by the top management of the company might not always work out on an operational level. Since middle management has a better understanding of the practical issues that are concerned with the change, they should be highly engaged within the process as well. Change phase After unfreezing the organization, the actual change phase can start, which is indicated in the model as ‘change process’.
This phase starts with using the resistance from the initial (unfreeze) phase and ends with the actual change. Similar to the first phase, also this phase includes three smaller aspects that will in the end result in the actual change. One of them is facilitation and support. Although taken by the traditional approach on resistance to organizational change, this aspect is included within the model since without support and the possibility for employees to learn new skills, employees might feel less involved. Due to the fact that involvement results in a more thoughtful attitude and, therefore, in either champions or blockers (figure 2. ), this aspect of the traditional approach has been included. Another step which logically connects the use of resistance towards the actual change is keeping the topic alive. This has been mentioned as one of the strategies for a positive approach towards resistance to organizational change and includes that one can also see resistance as a mean to keep the debate going. For the purpose of this model, this step can be further explained as allowing and encouraging employees to resist and share their thoughts not only before, but even during the change process with the desired result of creating attention towards the issue.
The last step within the change phase includes empowering middle management, which is vital due to the large variability and complexity of different departments. Middle management is empowered to make decisions in an independent manner, without permission of higher management. In this way, misunderstanding of criticism of middle management by higher management, is avoided. Looking at the model, the change phase starts with a box called ‘use resistance’ and ends with the ‘change process’. However, it should be noted that even during the change process, resistance can be used positively to improve plans.
Refreeze phase The last phase of the model, called the refreeze phase, allows the organization to stabilize again and not continuously changing the same process. The first step within this phase might, on first hand, look similar to the facilitation and support step for the change phase. However, a training and rewarding system differs in its use. While facilitation and support is mainly used to encourage involvement within the change, a training and rewarding system is needed to ensure the same state of mind of employees for following changes. This can be explained by looking at figure 2. 1.
During organizational change, several employees might be very thoughtful and resistant at first (blockers), but after the organizational process of positively using resistance, they will not resist any more and, therefore, become the so called champions. Now, consider what happens without a training and rewarding system for following changes. The same people might get a careless attitude due to the fact that the previous change did not have any positive effects on them as a person. Thus, having such a system after the actual change took place is of major importance for future organizational changes.
Nevertheless, it is essential to say that the rewards should not be given to people that did not have given any input concerning the change, since this would not stimulate the thoughtful attitude that can be used by the organization. Instead, encouraging employees to contribute to the change process should be done by rewarding them with for instance an afternoon off. The following aspect that results in long term commitment employees includes what in the model is called familiarization. This can be explained as familiarization with organizational change processes and especially with the attitude of the organization towards this change.
When experiencing this process positively, trust and commitment towards the organization will increase and employees are more likely to have a more thoughtful attitude for future organizational change. With the purpose of creating committed employees, also the operational level should be in line with the upper management change. Improved operational effect of the organizational change is reached through the engagement and empowerment of middle management in previous phases. This contributes to a higher level of confidence of employees regarding the change and an optimal change in practice, which leads to more long term ommitment by employees towards the company. Cause and Effect Relations Looking at the model, one can notice the different lines representing the interrelations between the different steps. The first line contains the steps: ‘culture of openness and flexibility’, ‘facilitation and support’ and ‘training and reward system’. These steps logically relate to each other, since a proper corporate culture results in facilitation and support and finally should have the outcome of a training and reward system, so people continuously develop themselves. Looking at the row in the middle, one can also notice the relationship between concepts.
The first step, setting up committees, is needed in order to keep the topic alive during the change phase, which should result in familiarization. The familiarization is a logic result, since employees are more up to date when there is more debate going on, which can only be done when they are encouraged to talk about the change by committees. The committees are needed for keeping the debate going since they will encourage the employees to talk. The row beneath emphasizes the importance of engaging and empowering middle management, because by doing this, operational problems will be avoided.
In the model, an arrow from the last step back to the beginning reflects the learning and innovation process of the company. After each organizational change, management and employees learn from the process of resistance and this leads to a better understanding for the next change. Also, because of the added value of resistance, more changes will be successfully implemented which results into more innovation for the company. In addition, an increasing number of employees will be committed, resulting into more blockers and champions for the next change process.
This can be considered a positive development as it raises the value of resistance after every implemented change. Conditions As mentioned before, the model is functional for all organizational changes in all sectors, but only if numerous conditions are satisfied. One of the most crucial conditions resulting in a successful application of the model is the mindset of the managers within the organization. Managers must be open for a positive approach towards resistance, including their openness to feedback and the flexibility to constantly adapt plans. As one can read from he explanation of the model, during the change process resistance will be used to improve initial plans. As a result, managers spend more time on adapting plans than they would if following the traditional approach. Besides the willingness of managers to spend time on this matter, also this aspect should be included in the planning, meaning that the managers are also allowed to spend this time on the change without getting troubles concerning other tasks. Another condition that must be satisfied when considering the application of this model is the current state of the employees referring to figure 2. . The model implies that employees will share their thoughts and give feedback, which would mean that these employees have a thoughtful attitude and are currently resisting (Blockers). If the majority of the employees would have a careless attitude (Sleepers or Preachers), this would result in limited feedback and exchange of views. As a consequence, it would not be effective to apply the model. As an example, creating a committee allowing employees to share interests, would be a waste of time if employees do not feel a need to be involved.
Furthermore, having the greater part of the employees being Champions, there will also be little feedback, due to the fact that this group is not resistant, but acceptant towards the change. Also in this case, it will not be relevant to use the model, since it focuses merely on how to use the resistance positively. So, the model is only applicable in situations where the majority of the employees consist of Blockers. Discussion Looking at the developed model and the belonging conditions, one can conclude that there is still a dysfunctional side on the model on which further research is required.
Looking at the previously mentioned disadvantages of the modern approach, which are the mindset of managers and the commitment of employees, one can notice that these disadvantages are still not covered within the model. So, the model does facilitate in creating a better understanding of how a positive approach towards organizational change can be used in practice by also including various strategies of the traditional approach, but it does not strengthen the modern approach by excluding the existing weaknesses. This dysfunctional side of the model requires further research in the topic.
Since the model is only applicable with a positive mindset of managers, research on how to create this specific mindset is needed in order to make the model functional in more situations. Additionally, further investigation in the groups of employees called Preachers and Blockers is suggested. This study should focus on the characteristics of these groups and, even more important, on how to transform the Preachers into Blockers. Bibliography Bell, M. C. , Gomez, B. E. , & Kessler, K. (2008). Signals, resistance to change, and conditioned reinforcement in a multiple schedule. doi: 10. 1016/j. beproc. 2008. 01. 014]. Behavioural Processes, 78(2), 158-164. Brewer, A. M. , & Hensher, D. A. (1998). The Importance of Organisational Commitment in Managing Change: Experience of the NSW Private Bus Industry. [doi: 10. 1016/S1366-5545(97)00038-0]. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 34(2), 117-130. Fiedler, S. (2010). Managing resistance in an organizational transformation: A case study from a mobile operator company. [doi: 10. 1016/j. ijproman. 2010. 02. 004]. International Journal of Project Management, 28(4), 370-383.
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