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Resistance to change is a common phenomenal among human beings. According to
Forsell & Astrom (2012), resistance to change is a process that develops in human beings
duing early childehoood. This is mainly due to the psychological capability of the human
mind to adapt to routines. As such, organizations cannot avoid resistance to change
among employees during change management. However, the can come up with ways to
help employees overcome resistance to change.
This research aims at establishing some of the methoods that organizations can adopt to
overcome change resistance. The research is mainly based on practical observations as
the main source of primry data and existing literatires as the main source of secondary
data. The theories of resistance to change will be discussed in order to form a theoretical
framework upon which the methods of overcoming change resistance in diverse
workforces in an organization
Keywords: Change resistance, workforce diversity, change resistance theories,
overcoming change resistance
As technology continues to evolve and the world moves towards a globally unified
community, change has been experienced in almost all aspects of life. Especially in the
world of business, change is currently the only constant thing as businesses continue to
progressively advance in terms of operations, services, products, and technology in order
to meet the changing customer demand and approaches to businesses. Despite knowing
that change is inevitable and the benefits that will be leaped by implementing a particular
change successfully, it is our nature as humans to resist change. Therefore, it is necessary
for managers to be prepared to face resistance to change within an organization and come
up with methods of solving this resistance.
Reasons for Topic Selection
Understanding the dynamics of the human mind and how regular practices and norms can
be altered in order to achieve better results has always been a major topic of interest for
me. By studying on the methods for overcoming resistance to change, I will be at a
position of understanding on why we as human beings get wired to particular behaviors
and how such behaviors can be effectively changed in order to improve the overall
wellbeing of humankind.
Secondly, overcoming resistance to change is a subsystem of a major whole; change
management, a topic that particularly fascinates me especially in the context of public
policies. While conducting this research, I will not limit myself only to the aspect of how
to overcome resistance to change but I will also focus on the epistemology and
metaphysics of change management as a whole in order to establish the reasons behind
resistance to change and how this resistance can be solved.
Thirdly, I see myself getting employed at some point in my life especially during the
early years of my career. I feel as though this topic will be helpful in enabling me to
effectively deal with the changes that might be implemented within my organization.
This is mainly because this topic will help me understand why change has to be done and
how I can deal with a negative attitude towards change both within myself and my fellow
Moreover, as a management student, my vision is to run a successful business in the
future. Effective management will be key in ensuring the success of my career in both the
early and advanced stages. This topic offers me a chance to overlook on some of the
challenges that I will have to deal with as a manager in terms of implementing change
and the solutions to this challenge.
A Problem Related to Organizational Behavior That will be Explored
The main problem related to organizational behavior that will be studied in methods for
overcoming change is the managerial challenge of adopting a system model of
organizational behavior in an environment that is currently being dictated by diversity.
Currently, managers often find themselves facing challenges on how to implement
changes in an organizational environment that is majorly characterized by diversity in
terms of factors such as race and demographics. Implementing changes that are favorable
to all employees within an organization has become more complex due to employees’
diversity in various forms; age, whereby the current organizations have both old and
young employees due to the growing number of young people in the job market. The
gender factor whereby more women have joined professional careers, diversity as a result
of dual career couples whereby managers have to put into consideration the need for
work-family balance before implementing changes and diversity in terms of gender
whereby managers have to consider the gender of all employees that is; male; female or
homosexual before implementing changes that may negatively impact or be unfavorable
to individuals of a particular sexual identity.
The growing workforce diversity in organizations has increased the rate of resistance to
change in organizations due to the multiple variable involved. Additionally, workforce
diversity makes the issue of managing resistance to change more challenging for
managers as they have to come up with models for solving this resistance that encompass
all the employees in an organization.
Introduction to Methods of Overcoming Resistance to Change
Aljohani, (2016) describes resistance to change as a collection of actions adopted by
individuals to oppose changes which they view as a threat to their routine functions.
Resistance to change by employee can affect the successful implementation of change
within an organization since employee are an important part of the change process
(Stouten & Rousseau , 2018). Therefore, it is necessary for the management to come up
with methods for overcoming change. These methods include a series of procedures that
can be implemented by leaders to ensure smoother transitions within organizations.
1. Why do people resist change?
2. How can organization deal with resistance for change?
A brief Overview of Resistance to Change
Reasons Why People Resist Change
In order to understand on the methods that can be used to overcome resistance to change,
it is crucial to briefly understand change resistance. There are various reasons as to why
people resist change. These factors can either be behavioral or psychological in nature.
Psychological factors that cause resistance to change among employees is mainly due to
attachment to status and low levels of confidence in the change. There are various factors
that can be used to identify psychological resistance to change. They include; denial, job
insecurity, low morale, focus on the cost of change not the benefits of change and low
tolerance too change (Forsell & Astrom, 2012).
On the other hand, behavioral resistance to change is as a result of fear of breaking of
habits. Humans are beings of routines and often find it hard to break away from
organizational routines which have been deemed to be no longer competent (Bovey &
Hede, 2001). Consequently, they adopt behaviors such as acting-out, disinterest, denial
and projection which often result to organizational conflicts.
Impacts of Change Resistance on Organizations
According to Zafar & Naveed (2014), resistance to change is often likely result to low
productivity within the organizations. This is mainly because employees are not
motivated work deligently under the new system. Moreover, change resistance often
results to conflicts. This is mainly because different employees adapt different ways of
handling the change process (Yi , Gu , & Wei, 2017). While some employees will exhibit
sighns of being withdrawn from other people others may act –out or project their feelings
on other peole hence resulting to conflict.
The Dynamics of Workforce Diversity and how it affects resistance to change at an
Individual, Group and Organizational Level
Workforce diversity can be defined as the comparisons and contrasts among employees
in terms of cultural background, gender, religion, race, sexual orientation and physical
abilities and disabilities (Shaban , 2016). Workforce diversity affects how individuals
respond to change at an individual or group level. This affects the overall impacts of
change in an organization.
Some changes that are implemented may not be favorable to specific individuals within
an organization (Shaban , 2016). For example, the management can introduce a change
that does not cover an employee who identify themselves as a transgender. This kind of
change can affect how an employee fulfills his or her day-to-day tasks hence, developing
resistance to the change. The method adopted to overcome such resistance should mainly
aim at convincing such individuals why this change is necessary and how their concerns
will be addressed.
Secondly, workforce diversity within groups can affect how groups perceive change
hence, resulting to change resistance. For example, a group that consists of very young
and old employees may experience challenges when implementing changes on how to
conduct group meetings. An introduction of digital techniques such as face timing to
conduct group meeting may meet resistance from old people. The method adopted to
overcome such resistance should mainly aim at educating the affected groups how the
change will be beneficial to them.
Moreover workforce diversity makes the overall process of change management within
organizations more complex (Patrick & Kumar , 2012). This is mainly because managers
have to put all the groups represented within an organization into consideration before
implementing a change. High levels of workforce diversity within an organization also
means that there will be higher levels of resistance to change hence more diverse methods
of overcoming change have to be developed so as to meet the needs of all the employees
in the organization. Therefore, the methods developed to overcome change resistance
should focus on informing the people on how these changes are necessary both at an
individual and organizational level.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
Methods of overcoming resistance to change include all the tactics employed by an
organization to aid their employees to accept and adopt to changes meritoriously
therefore, enabling a smooth transition (Yi , Gu , & Wei, 2017).
The Theories on Methods of overcoming Resistance to Change
There are three main theories that can be used to explain on methods that can be used to
overcome resistance to change.
1. Frames to Overcome symbolic and political obstacles to change
In their research, Bolman and Deal developed four angles or ‘frames’ which should be
addressed in the process of change including; structural, human resource, political and
symbolic frame (Stouten & Rousseau , 2018). The structural frame deals with the
structure of an organization and how it can be reorganized in order to overcome
resistance to change.
Secondly, the human resource frame involves how individuals interact to meet each
other’s needs. In cases of resistance to change, managers can use this frame to interact
with employees in order to help them understand why the change is essential hence
enabling them to overcome resistance (Yi , Gu , & Wei, 2017).
The other frame discussed by Bolman and Deal was the political frame. This frame
involves viewing the organization from a position of power and conflict. By applying the
right power to handle conflicts that arise as a result of resistance to change, managers can
help employees get into terms with changes (Aljohani, 2016).
The last frame is the symbolic frame. It comprises of organizational culture and how
meaning is made within an organization. By understanding an organization’s culture
clearly, an individual can be able to establish methods that help employees to overcome
resistance to change (Forsell & Astrom, 2012).
2. Power Games
This was a theory developed by Crozier in 1979 on methods of overcoming resistance to
change in service design. According to this theory, once a change has been introduced,
new organizational regulations ought to be created and areas that are dominated by
uncertainty be redistributed (Stouten & Rousseau , 2018). This is more likely to cause
resistance to change among individuals who are insecure about losing their power. The
theory therefore suggests that allowing people to understand on the implications of
change to their power can overcome resistance to change consequently, eliminating
resistance as a result of the fear of the unknown.
3. Actor-Network Theory
This theory was developed by Latour and focuses on the social relations that are
introduced during the process of change. According to Latour, change has an effect on
organizational networks including; people, machines and the environment. The changes
caused on these networks affect the people that control hence, causing resistance
(Stouten & Rousseau , 2018) . Therefore, before implementing changes on resources,
considerations have to be made about all the individuals affected by change and suitable
methods should be established to help them deal with the changes.
Methods of Overcoming Resistance to Change
1. Education and Effective Communication
Managers should seek to educate employees on the need for change before and after its
implementation and communicate effectively on any changes that will be implemented
(Stouten & Rousseau , 2018). Once they understand why the change is necessary,
employees are more likely to embrace the change. Additionally, effective communication
makes sure that a manager understands the implications of changes on the diverse
workforce and come up with other alternatives to support them.
2. Goal Setting and Motivation
By setting short term goals and celebrating small successes, employees will be motivated
to work harder towards perfecting their skills under the new system (Bovey & Hede,
2001). Consequently, this significantly overcomes their resistance to change.
3. Structuring Effective Teams to Maximize Potential
Employees may resist particular changes due to lack of knowledge about how the new
system operates (Al-Ali , 2017). Grouping them into effective teams helps them to learn
from each other. This enables them to understand changes hence, maximizing potential.
4. Empowering Innovation and Creativity
Change involves the introduction of new, usually better approaches to achieving
organizational objectives. By encouraging innovation and creativity in the organizations’
day to day activities, employees master the act of flexibility (Stouten & Rousseau , 2018).
Consequently, they do not usually exhibit high levels of resistance in scenarios of change
5. Implementing Change in Stages
Change often involves a wide range of interrelated activities. Implementing such
activities at a go can be overwhelming for employees hence, resulting to resistance
(Aljohani, 2016). Implementing changes in stages gives employees a time to learn and
synthesize changes more quickly hence, overcoming change resistance.
6. Negotiation and Agreement
Managers should be ready to engage and listen to their employees concerns regarding
changes. Tradeoffs can be done through negotiations and agreements in order to ensure
that both parties are contented hence, overcoming resistance to change (Lonescu &
Dragomiroiu , 2014).
7. Explicit and implicit coercion
Managers can resolve to explicit and implicit coercion to overcome resistance to change
if the intended change has a high priority or as the last resort if the other methods do not
work (Aljohani, 2016). This approach involves the use of drastic consequences such as
job dismissal, lack of promotions or employee transfer.
8. Manipulation and Co-optation
This approach is used when the other methods of overcoming change resistance are not
effective of are too expensive. In this approach, the leader uses their role to influence
employees (Lonescu & Dragomiroiu , 2014).
Conclusions and Recommendations to Organizations
Conclusively, resistance to change in organizations is inevitable due to human nature.
Therefore, it is not possible to eliminate it but it is possible to develop approaches which
enable employees to overcome resistance to change. Some of the methods that can be
used to achieve this include; team work, goal setting and motivation, coercion,
manipulation, negotiation, education, and communication in addition to others.
Most managers are currently facing challenges on how to develop effective methods of
overcoming resistance to change as a result of workforce diversity. In order to solve this
challenge, it is recommended that managers involve all the employees in change
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