Organizational change is activity of transformation or modification of something in the organizational system. The main purpose of this activity is an improvement of your business performance. Nobody would like to implement change if with that change, the situation will become worse or there will not be any improvements.
The organization is interactive with its environment. Changes in the environment affect the organization, and the it needs to adapt itself to that change. Organizational changes are activity of differentiation or modification with the purpose to improve overall business processes of the organization and to carry out adopting of organization with the changes in the environment.
When we talk about organizational change we need to mention that this process isn’t simply journey from point A to point B. Many barriers will need to be passed if you want to succeed in your intentions to improve your business. One of the biggest barriers is resistance to change as an integral part of each change process. Managers will need to be aware that there will be always persons in their organizations that will be resistant to the proposed change. Because of that, efficiency and effectiveness of the change process will be in direct relation with resistance to change and successfully managing resistance to change.
In each organization, there are four types of persons accordingly to their response to changes:
- Persons who will initiate change.
- Persons who will accept change.
- Persons who will be indifferent to change.
- Persons who will not accept change.
Persons that not belong in any of the above categories is more likely to be resistant to some changes, and in the same time to accept or initiate other types of changes.
Factors or Reasons For Resistance to Change
I’ve been conducted an analysis of 18 different literature sources that showed many factors that cause such a phenomenon to organizational changes. After analysis of the literature, I select those factors that are most cited by different authors:
- Threat of power on an individual level. Managers resist changes that will decrease their power and transfers it to their subordinates;
- Threat of power on an organizational level. With the process, some groups, departments or sectors in the organization become more powerful. Because of that some persons will be opposed to such a proposal or processes where they will lose their organizational power;
- Losing the control by employees. The process sometimes can reduce the level of control that managers can conduct, and that managers can be opposite to those proposals that can reduce their control power;
- Increasing the control on the employees. Organizational changes can increase control on the employees by managers, and that can produce that employees to become resistant to that proposals;
- Economic factors. Organizational changes sometimes can be seen from the employee’s side simply as something that will decrease or increase their salary or other economic privileges that some workplace brings to them in the moment before the process. It is normal to expect that those people who feel that the process will reduce their salary will be opposite to the proposals.
- Image, prestige and reputation. Each workplace brings adequate image, prestige and reputation that are important to the employees. Organizational changes can shift this benefit of employees. This will produce dissatisfaction and opposition for the proposed changes;
- Threat of comfort.Organizational changes can results in personal discomfort and make employee’s life more difficult. They make a transfer from the comfort of the status quo to discomfort of the new situation. Employees have skills to do an old job without some special attention to accomplishing the task. Each new task requires forgetfulness of the old methods of doing things and learning new one that lead to waste on energy, and causes appearing dissatisfaction;
- Job’s security. Organizational change can eliminate some work places, can produce technological excess, layoffs and so on. Job’s security has a big impact on appearing resistance of those that will be covered with this process;
- Reallocation of resources. With organizational changes, some groups, departments or sectors in the organization can receive more resources on a damage of others; it affects on appearing dissatisfaction in those who will lose some of their current resources;
- Acquired interest of some groups. Organizational change can make new groups more significant for the success of the organization. That’s a big threat for old coalition that will cause resistance to organizational changes in those groups that become more insignificant;
- Implication on personal plans. Organizational change can stop other plans, projects or other personal or family activities that can lead to appearing resistance at those persons who will be covered with this change;
- Too much dependence of others. In an organization can be employees who are too much depended on others. This dependence is based on support from powerful individuals. If the changes bring the threat of that dependence it will affect on appearing resistance to organizational change of those that will be covered with this change;
- Misunderstanding the process. Peoples resists change when they not understand the proposed purposes. When employees not understand the process, they can assume something bad. This lead to appearing resistance to organizational change;
- Mistrust to initiators of change. When employees do not have trust to initiators of the process, the process will not be accepted and will affect on appearing resistance;
- Different evaluation and perception.Different evaluation and perception can affect the organizational changes if there are persons who consider the proposed changes as a bad idea. Because of that they are resistant to that changes.
- Fear of unknown. Organizational change can lead to uncertainty and some dose of fear. It is normal people to feel fear of uncertainty. When employees feeling uncertainty of a process of transformation, they think that changes are something dangerous. This uncertainty affects organizational members to resist the proposed change;
- Habits. Employees work is based on habits, and work tasks are performed in a certain way based on that habits. Organizational changes require shifts of that habits and because of that dissatisfaction from the proposals.
- Previous Experience. All employees already have some experience with a previous organizational change process and know that this process is not easy. That experience can tell him that more change processes in the past have been unsuccessful, and it affects on appearing resistance to organizational change;
- Threat to interpersonal relations. Employees are often mutually friends who have a strong social and interpersonal relationship. If an organizational change process can be seen as a threat to these powerful social networks in the organization, the affected employees will resist to that change.
- Weakness of the proposed changes. Sometimes proposed change might have a weakness that employees can simply recognize. This has an effect to that employees to resist the implementation until this weakness is not removed.
- Limited resources.A normal problem in every organization is limited resources. When resources are limited, and with organizational change that resources are threatened, resistance to change is more likely;
- Bureaucratic inertia. Every organization has built mechanisms across rules, policies, and procedures. Even though individuals want to change their behavior these mechanisms can resist to that change;
- Selective information processing. Individuals usually doing selective information processing, or hear that they want to hear. They simply ignore information that is opposite of the current situation, and with this, they are preventing to accept important aspects of proposed changes, and it affects appearing resistance to organizational change;
- Uninformed employees. Often employees are not provided with adequate information about organizational that must be implemented. This can affect on appearing resistance to that change;
- Peer pressure. Often, we utilize some kind of informal punishment for colleagues who supports change which others not support. This can affect on appearing and increasing resistance to change;
- Skepticism about the need of change. If the problem is a not personal thing of an employee, they do not see the need why they need to be changed. Those that can’t see the need of change, will have low readiness to change;
- Increasing workload. In the process of organizational change, employees except for normal work activities will be loaded with activities of a change process. These increasing workloads, affects appearing resistance to change;
- Short time to performing change. Because organizational systems are open systems and are interactive with their environment, the need of change often comes from outside and performing rates are dictated from outside of an organization. These situations lead to a short time about implementation of the organizational change process that has influence on appearing resistance to change.
What are you thinking? Is there something that you have experienced as a source of resistance that can be included in the following list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
The reference list of literature sources you can find in the post titled as: 28 Factors That Causes Resistance to Change: Reference List.