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Managing Resistance to Change in the Workplace

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Employees Brainstorming on Resistance to Change

Change is the adoption of new idea or behavior by an organization (Daft, 1995). Change in an existing organization is meant to increase its effectiveness in achieving its corporate objectives; it is the bedrock of industrial and organizational effectiveness. Change means to alter, replace, substitute, exchange etc. Whatever form it takes, differences could be spotted between the former and present when it occurs. It is ‘an activity of transformation or modification of something … with the objective to make improvements”.

Change is unavoidable in our socio-economic, political and technological lives, Davies (1983) defines “Work Change” as any alteration that occurs in the work environment. Work change can occur in men, machines, policies, methods, and even location. Change could be from  Internal or External source.

Internal Sources: This change could occur in structure, training, interpersonal and intrapersonal change (e.g. self growth and self development), leadership change etc.

External Sources: These are changes occasioned by outside forces like government policies, pandemic, consumer behavior, inflation, increase or decrease in people’s purchasing powers, religious upsurge, technology, war, natural disaster etc. It should be noted that most times the external pressures  are so powerful to the extent that they have great powers to ignite internal organizational changes. Changes could be destructive or constructive.  

Effects of Resistance to Change

Reasons for Resistance to Change: As important as change is in organizations, some employees still resist it and hate it without pretence. I remember on occassions I was brought in to inject fresh ideas to revive a failing organisation and the fierce resistance received. Infact, managing resistance to change in the workplace could be herculean

The resistance could be as result of:

  • Parochial self interest.
  • Lack of confidence in the changer.
  • Bad communication strategy,
  • Fear for Loss of job, 
  • Disruption of social life, 
  • Poor timing,
  • Fear of unknown,
  • Cost of Change,
  • Level of Preparedness for Change,
  • Disruption of Known Relationships,
  • Lack of Trust,
  • Lack of Reward
  • Loss of Support System
  • Loss of Control
  • Lack of Competence
  • Experience from former change
  • Lack of Human face in the aspect of change
  • Poor Planning
  • No clarity
  • Out of comfort Zone
  • Denial
  • Resistance as Normal
  • Loss of identity

Quide on Managing Resistance to Change

  • Proper Education/ Explanations to employees
  • Change agent(s) must be honest/ trustable persons
  • Change implementation should be sincere/ gradual
  • Right Timing
  • Effective communication necessary
  • Employees should be prepared psychologically
  • Change agents must be selfless and competent persons
  • Good knowledge of change objectives
  • Good reward system
  • Openness, Clarity and objectivity should be the watchword
  • All grey areas should be addressed

These quides will assist in change management in your organizations and if effectively managed, will be a source of strength to the organisation and improve the bottomline.

Written by: Agolo Uzorka, CEO/ Lead Consultant, Eugene + George Consulting Limited

Managing Resistance to Change in the Workplace
Agolo Uzorka
Agolo Uzorka
the authorAgolo Uzorka