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Overcoming Resistance to Change

Change is desirable for organizational development. Resistance to change should not e considered bad. Rather, it gives managers an opportunity to re-examine their proposals of change for their effective implementation. Six ways of overcoming resistance to change are identified by kotter and Schlesinger. These are:

1.    Education and communication:

An effective way to reduce resistance to change is to plan the change and communicate its benefits to organizational  member. Announcing the need for change, explaining the ways of implementing it and training people to deal with new procedures reduces resistance to change.

People should be explained the nature of change, need for change, objectives of change, how and when it will be implemented and the benefits of change.

2.    Participation and involvement:

If those who are affected by implementation of change are involved in framing the change process, its planning and implementation will be accepted by them without resistance. When people are involved in designing the change, they can understand the need for change, have less uncertainty about the impacts of change not heir economic and social values and, their fore, will be more committed to their implementation.

3.    Facilitation and support:

If employees lack confidence about performing according to new procedures and methods, managers should provide them moral support, advise them when necessary and create a cordial and friendly atmosphere of understanding. This will promote the employees to accept and implement change smoothly and efficiently.

4.    Negotiation and agreement:

When the above measures to reduce resistance to change remain ineffective, managers make negotiations and agreements with the employees. Such negotiations involve sharing of profits by management and workers out of changed mode of operations. Sometimes, mangers also obtain written consent form the resister.

5.    Manipulation and co-optation:

When people resist change, mangers may adopt a manipulative policy. They present selective information to resisters to gain their confidence and acceptance to change.

Under co-optation, managers select the most influential person form the group of resister, give him a seemingly important role in designing the change process (the information supplied to the leader may not be important from manager’s point of view but may carry value for that person as leader of the group) and reduce resistance to change.

6.    Explicit and implicit coercion:

An a measure of last resort, when no other method of overcoming resistance to change works, managers use force to implement the change. Methods like demotions, transfers and dismissals make people accept the change. However, such change does not have a lasting impact. Future changes shall be subject to more rigorous resistance by the employees.

Besides above measures of overcoming resistance to change as suggested by Kotter and Schlesinger, the following additional measures can also be useful:

7.    Initiate change only if is necessary:

Some managers announce change just of the sake of bringing a change. Such practice should be avoided and changes should be introduced only if they are required and beneficial for the organization as a whole.

8.    Building trust and confidence:

When people resist change because they lack confidences and trust in managers, manager should build trust by openly communicating with the employees. They should give them timely and reliable information and explain the benefits of proposed changes. Such measures considerably help to reduce resistance to change.

9.    Guarantee job security:

Resistance to technological changes which creates fear of loss of job can be overcome by guaranteeing job security to employees.

10.    Force field analysis:

Managers should conduct force field analysis, determine the driving and restringing forces to change, increase the driving forces and reduce the restraining forces and reach a new stage of equilibrium: that is, the desired level of change.

11.    Change in organization structure:

Changing the organization structure form bureaucratic (which is not receptive to change) to socio-technical system, where focus is not only on task but also on people and relationship between the technical system and people also helps to overcome to change.

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