The Idea in Brief Faced with stiffer competition and dizzying technological advances, companies often must change course to stay competitive. But most change initiatives backfire. They assume they can combat resistance, a notorious obstacle, by involving employees in the design of the initiative. But that works only when employees have the information they need to provide useful input. For instance, they may apply a go-slow approach even when an impending crisis calls for rapid change.
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The Idea in Brief Faced with stiffer competition and dizzying technological advances, companies often must change course to stay competitive. But most change initiatives backfire. They assume they can combat resistance, a notorious obstacle, by involving employees in the design of the initiative.
But that works only when employees have the information they need to provide useful input. For instance, they may apply a go-slow approach even when an impending crisis calls for rapid change.
To illustrate, with employees who fear the adjustments the change will require, provide training in new skills. Adapting your change strategy to the situation. For example, if your company must transform to avert an imminent crisis, accelerate your initiative—even if that risks greater resistance.
The Idea in Practice The authors suggest these steps for managing change successfully: 1. Determine the Optimal Speed of Change Use your analysis of situational factors to decide how quickly or slowly your change should proceed. But proceed slowly if: Resistance will be intense and extensive You anticipate needing information and commitment from others to help design and implement the change You have less organizational power than those who may resist the change 3.
Kotter and Schlesinger provide a practical, tested way to think about managing that change. One of the strongest themes that runs through their subsequent reports is a concern for the ability of organizations to respond to environmental change. For these reasons, needed reorganization is often deferred, with a resulting loss in effectiveness and an increase in costs.
Today, more and more managers must deal with new government regulations, new products, growth, increased competition, technological developments, and a changing workforce. In response, most companies or divisions of major corporations find that they must undertake moderate organizational changes at least once a year and major changes every four or five.
Most efforts encounter problems; they often take longer than expected and desired, they sometimes kill morale, and they often cost a great deal in terms of managerial time or emotional upheaval. More than a few organizations have not even tried to initiate needed changes because the managers involved were afraid that they were simply incapable of successfully implementing them.
In this article, we first describe various causes for resistance to change and then outline a systematic way to select a strategy and set of specific approaches for implementing an organizational change effort. The methods described are based on our analyses of dozens of successful and unsuccessful organizational changes.
Diagnosing Resistance Organizational change efforts often run into some form of human resistance. Although experienced managers are generally all too aware of this fact, surprisingly few take time before an organizational change to assess systematically who might resist the change initiative and for what reasons. Because of the many different ways in which individuals and groups can react to change, correct assessments are often not intuitively obvious and require careful thought.
Of course, all people who are affected by change experience some emotional turmoil. To predict what form their resistance might take, managers need to be aware of the four most common reasons people resist change.
These are a desire not to lose something of value, a misunderstanding of the change and its implications, a belief that the change does not make sense for the organization, and a low tolerance for change. Parochial self-interest. One major reason people resist organizational change is that they think they will lose something of value as a result. Operationally, this change eliminated most of the decision-making power that the vice presidents of marketing, engineering, and production had over new products.
During the two months after the president announced his idea for a new product vice president, the existing vice presidents each came up with six or seven reasons the new arrangement might not work.
Their objections grew louder and louder until the president shelved the idea. As some of the personnel people immediately recognized, the change would alter their relationships from a peer and helper to more of a boss and evaluator with most of the employees.
Predictably, the personnel counselors resisted the change. While publicly arguing that the new system was not as good for the company as the old one, they privately put as much pressure as possible on the personnel vice president until he significantly altered the new system.
Political behavior sometimes emerges before and during organizational change efforts when what is in the best interests of one individual or group is not in the best interests of the total organization or of other individuals and groups. While political behavior sometimes takes the form of two or more armed camps publicly fighting things out, it usually is much more subtle.
In many cases, it occurs completely under the surface of public dialogue. Although scheming and ruthless individuals sometimes initiate power struggles, more often than not those who do are people who view their potential loss from change as an unfair violation of their implicit, or psychological, contract with the organization.
People also resist change when they do not understand its implications and perceive that it might cost them much more than they will gain. Such situations often occur when trust is lacking between the person initiating the change and the employees.
He had been introduced to the concept at a management seminar and decided to use it to make working conditions at his company more attractive, particularly to clerical and plant personnel. Shortly after the announcement, numerous rumors begin to circulate among plant employees—none of whom really knew what flexible working hours meant and many of whom were distrustful of the manufacturing vice president.
One rumor, for instance, suggested that flexible hours meant that most people would have to work whenever their supervisors asked them to—including evenings and weekends. The employee association, a local union, held a quick meeting and then presented the management with a nonnegotiable demand that the flexible hours concept be dropped. The president, caught completely by surprise, complied. Few organizations can be characterized as having a high level of trust between employees and managers; consequently, it is easy for misunderstandings to develop when change is introduced.
Unless managers surface misunderstandings and clarify them rapidly, they can lead to resistance. And that resistance can easily catch change initiators by surprise, especially if they assume that people only resist change when it is not in their best interest. Different assessments. Another common reason people resist organizational change is that they assess the situation differently from their managers or those initiating the change and see more costs than benefits resulting from the change, not only for themselves but for their company as well.
Within a week, the president drew up a plan to reorganize the part of the bank that managed REITs. The reorganization immediately ran into massive resistance from the people involved. His actions have already cost us three very good people [who quit], and have crippled a new program we were implementing [which the president was unaware of] to reduce our loan losses.
In either case, the difference in information that groups work with often leads to differences in analyses, which in turn can lead to resistance.
But this likelihood is not obvious to some managers who assume that resistance is always bad and therefore always fight it. People also resist change because they fear they will not be able to develop the new skills and behavior that will be required of them. All human beings are limited in their ability to change, with some people much more limited than others. Peter F. For example, a person who receives a significantly more important job as a result of an organizational change will probably be very happy.
But it is just as possible for such a person to also feel uneasy and to resist giving up certain aspects of the current situation.
A new and very different job will require new and different behavior, new and different relationships, as well as the loss of some satisfactory current activities and relationships. People also sometimes resist organizational change to save face; to go along with the change would be, they think, an admission that some of their previous decisions or beliefs were wrong. Indeed, there are probably an endless number of reasons why people resist change.
Without an accurate diagnosis of possibilities of resistance, a manager can easily get bogged down during the change process with very costly problems. Dealing with Resistance Many managers underestimate not only the variety of ways people can react to organizational change, but also the ways they can positively influence specific individuals and groups during a change.
And, again because of past experiences, managers sometimes do not have an accurate understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the methods with which they are familiar. Many managers underestimate the variety of reactions to change and their power to influence those responses.
Education and communication. One of the most common ways to overcome resistance to change is to educate people about it beforehand. Communication of ideas helps people see the need for and the logic of a change. The education process can involve one-on-one discussions, presentations to groups, or memos and reports.
Over a four-month period, he made this presentation no fewer than a dozen times to groups of 20 or 30 corporate and division managers. But some managers overlook the fact that a program of this sort requires a good relationship between initiators and resisters or that the latter may not believe what they hear.
It also requires time and effort, particularly if a lot of people are involved. Participation and involvement. If the initiators involve the potential resisters in some aspect of the design and implementation of the change, they can often forestall resistance.
With a participative change effort, the initiators listen to the people the change involves and use their advice. The task force was composed of eight second- and third-level managers from different parts of the company.
They were given six months and asked to file a brief progress report with the president once a month. We have found that many managers have quite strong feelings about participation—sometimes positive and sometimes negative. That is, some managers feel that there should always be participation during change efforts, while others feel this is virtually always a mistake. Both attitudes can create problems for a manager, because neither is very realistic.
When change initiators believe they do not have all the information they need to design and implement a change, or when they need the wholehearted commitment of others to do so, involving others makes very good sense. Considerable research has demonstrated that, in general, participation leads to commitment, not merely compliance. Nevertheless, the participation process does have its drawbacks. Not only can it lead to a poor solution if the process is not carefully managed, but also it can be enormously time consuming.
When the change must be made immediately, it can take simply too long to involve others. Facilitation and support. Another way that managers can deal with potential resistance to change is by being supportive. This process might include providing training in new skills, or giving employees time off after a demanding period, or simply listening and providing emotional support.
For example: Management in one rapidly growing electronics company devised a way to help people adjust to frequent organizational changes.
First, management staffed its human resource department with four counselors who spent most of their time talking to people who were feeling burnt out or who were having difficulty adjusting to new jobs. Second, on a selective basis, management offered people four-week minisabbaticals that involved some reflective or educational activity away from work. And, finally, it spent a great deal of money on in-house education and training programs.
Facilitation and support are most helpful when fear and anxiety lie at the heart of resistance. Seasoned, tough managers often overlook or ignore this kind of resistance, as well as the efficacy of facilitative ways of dealing with it.
The basic drawback of this approach is that it can be time consuming and expensive and still fail. Negotiation and agreement. Another way to deal with resistance is to offer incentives to active or potential resisters.
CHOOSING STRATEGIES FOR CHANGE KOTTER AND SCHLESINGER PDF
Maull Schlesinger and Joseph B. Your rating is more than welcome or share this article via Social media! John Kotter and Leonard Schlesinger identify four reasons:. Fear of change is understandable, but because the environment changes rapidly, and it has been doing so increasingly, organizations cannot afford not to change.
Choosing Strategies for Change
Choosing strategies for change.