We’ve all encountered a change in our lives at one point or another. For change to be effective, you have to accept it and be comfortable with it, no matter its intensity. 1 environment where many of us will encounter change is at work. Business leaders are tasked with ensuring the provider’s operations under their purview are run efficiently and effectively. This may sometimes require a change to the way the group, or the whole organization, currently operates after identifying an issue. Whether you’re a leader or a subordinate, the capability to deal with change and execute change is critically important to an organization’s overall success.
Resistance to Change
If change is so crucial, why do people resist it? Vast portions of the current business research literature are devoted to determining how firms mitigate risk and why these techniques work. The same is true for individuals; they resist change because it represents risk and uncertainty. At a 2011 paper, Myungweon Choi found that readiness for change, commitment to change, openness to change, and cynicism of change are all factors that affect an individual’s ability to handle change.
How do we identify if individuals in an organization are prone to resist change? Leaders can survey their employees, many inventories exist to give organizations an idea of whether a person is prone to withstand change, including a tool made by Shaul Oreg in 2003 as well as validated instruments built for the Technology Adoption Model (TAM), and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT). Leaders should also be able to identify people that may resist change from personal knowledge about the employees they work with. Leaders should also keep in mind that the concept of resistance on its own should not be construed as a marker against a person, after all it’s a perfectly natural response. What leaders do need to be cautious of, however, is letting that immunity take hold among a team.
The Importance of Followers
Burak Oc and Michael Bashur discovered that followers with higher personal power exert greater societal influence on leaders, followers that are psychologically more immediate to their leaders exert greater social influence on them, and massive groups will have more influence over leaders as a part of their within-group agreement. This is to say followers have just as large a part in successfully enacting change, if not bigger than the leaders hoping to achieve that. David Courpasson and colleagues studied this extensively in a paper titled Resisters at work: Generating productive resistance at work . In this paper, it was discovered that resistors can influence top management, and gain concessions, through active attempts. These efforts culminated in senior leadership having little choice but to give into the resistance as the resisters were able to form new classes possessing enough power that forced the leadership’s hand.
Uhl-Bien and colleagues have investigated the concept of co-producing leadership, where followers nevertheless defer to a pioneer but with advising, challenging, or persuading behaviours that ultimately generate more effective outcomes. 1 key aspect of co-production of leadership is communication. Research shows that leaders who communicate with their followers that they have faith in their workers’ abilities lead to a rise in the follower’s ability to satisfy these expectations through an increase in their sense of competence and self-efficacy. Leveraging this can help leaders create successful change.
(1) Establish a sense of urgency;
(2) create a guiding coalition;
(3) create a vision and strategy;
(4) communicate the change vision;
(5) empower workers for broad-based actions;
(6) Generate short-term wins;
(7) consolidate gains and produce more change; and
(8) anchor new approaches in the culture.
Jeffrey Ford and his colleagues also noted in their 2008 research paper regarding change resistance that many management practices which have been documented to decrease immunity, including communicating extensively, encouraging people to participate, providing people with needed resources and developing strong working relationships. Somebody’s resistance can be exacerbated through managers who break agreements, oversee a breakdown in communication, and by ignoring resistance itself.
Communicating the purpose of the change is vital but describing how the change will affect the employee is important also. Bear in mind, change scares people because it involves risk and uncertainty. By demonstrating to employees that the change efforts you’re proposing will have a beneficial effect on them, they will be less prone to resist the change. By including these employees early on in the process, by listening and responding to their concerns, and by incorporating suggestions they may supply you engage these individuals and make them a part of this change procedure. By being part of the solution, they are much less likely to withstand the proposed change.