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Employee Resistance to Change

Change is a common occurrence within organizations, and resistance to change is just as common. There are several types of resistance to change. Understanding these different types can help in understanding ways to reduce resistance and encourage compliance with change. Resistance to change can be broken down into three groups: organization-level resistance, grouplevel resistance, and individual-level resistance (George et al.). Each of these groups can be broken down further. Organization-Level Resistance Organization-level resistance includes resistance to change due to power and conflict, differences in functional orientation, mechanistic structure, and organizational culture. Power and Conflict - Resistance to change due to power and conflict occurs when a change may benefit one department within the organization while harming another department within the organization. Functional Orientation - Resistance to change due to differences in functional orientation occurs because employees or departments with different functions will see problems and issues differently, thus making it harder to come to an agreement regarding change. Mechanistic Structure - Resistance to change due to mechanistic structure occurs because employees working "within a mechanistic structure are expected to act in certain ways and do not develop the initiative to adjust their behavior to changing conditions" (George et al.). Organizational Culture - Resistance due to organizational culture occurs when organizational change disrupts the values and norms within the organizational culture. Group-Level Resistance Group-level resistance includes resistance to change due to group norms, group cohesiveness, and groupthink and escalation of commitment. Group Norms - Resistance due to group norms occurs when change alters interactions between group members due to changes in task and role relationships within a group. Group Cohesiveness - Resistance due to group cohesiveness occurs because members of a cohesive group wish to keep things, such as members or tasks, the same within the group. Groupthink and Escalation of Commitment - Resistance due to groupthink and escalation of commitment occurs because members ignore negative information, even when they realize that their decisions are wrong, in order to agree with each other, thus making a change in group behavior incredibly difficult. Individual-Level Resistance

Individual-level resistance includes resistance to change due to uncertainty and insecurity, selective perception and retention, and habit. Uncertainty and Insecurity - Resistance due to uncertainty and insecurity occurs because employees do not know what the outcome of the change will be. Selective Perception and Retention - Resistance due to selective perception and retention occurs when employees direct attention to how the change will affect their department, their function, or them personally. Habit - Resistance due to habit occurs when employees are comfortable in their daily habits and do not want to alter them due to change. Exhibiting Resistance to Change There are three ways that employees may exhibit resistance to change: passive resistance, active resistance, and aggressive resistance. Passive Resistance - Passive resistance refers to negative feelings and opinions regarding the change. Signs of passive resistance may include "agreeing verbally but not following through, feigning ignorance and withholding information" (Bolognese). Active Resistance - Active resistance refers to actively opposing the change. Signs of active resistance may include strikes or increased absenteeism. Aggressive Resistance - Aggressive resistance refers to behavior that actually blocks the change. Signs of aggressive resistance may include subversion or sabotage. Aggressive resistance is rare and can become dangerous. Therefore, aggressive resistance should never be allowed. Reducing Resistance to Change There are several actions that management can take that will reduce resistance due to uncertainty and insecurity. This type of resistance can be countered with education and communication (Kotter). Management must explain why the change is needed, identify the benefits of the change to individuals and departments, and be willing to answer all questions as they arise. Topics regarding the change that must be covered are why, what, when, where, and how (Woldring). Communication between management and employees can occur in the form of discussion groups, memos, formal reports, scheduled meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc. The final step to education and communication is often overlooked. This step is verification of the message received. Employees should be asked to repeat the message they received, and management should compare the message received with the message management intended to send. If there is a discrepancy between the message received and the message sent, then management should repeat the message until employees state a message received that matches

the message sent (Woldring). This step helps ensure understanding. Education and communication is virtually useless without understanding.