What is Resistance To Change?
Resistance to change is the opposing behaviors of employees in the change made by the organization. There are many reasons employees resist change one of them is, they think the frequent change made in an organization has a bad effect on their position.
Resistance to change is one of the important sources of functional conflict. It brings obstacles in change adaptation and process. Resistance to change can be seen in terms of overt or immediate and covert nature.
It is not so difficult to manage and deal with resistance when it is overt or immediate. The examples of such resistance involve work slowdown, compliant voice, and a threat for a strike, etc. Cover or implicit is more complex and as such more difficult to recognize. The example of such resistance involves loss of loyalty and motivation to the organization, increased errors, increased absenteeism due to sickness, etc.
Mainly there are two types, sources, factors, reasons, causes of resistance to change consisting of individual and organizational.
#1 Individual Resistance To Change
Individual resistance to change is based on some basic human characteristics such as perceptions, personalities, and needs. Following are the reasons that individuals may resit to change:
Human beings by nature have a habit to do regular work or making a programmed decision. They satisfy and feel secure in regular work and adjust themselves to family, society, and work-life. They do not want to accept change if it needs to change in their habit.
They analyze the weightage of benefit and cost before accepting any change. For example, when an employee used a route to go to the office, it becomes his habit to go to the office through the same route regularly. As far as possible he does not want to change the regular route. He thinks many times about merits and demerits when he needs to change the route.
Security (Job Security)
Generally, people think that change brings a threat to job security and that is the reason that they hesitate to accept it. They find security in the job possesses and system that they are doing. In case of management of an organization plans to change the present work system, many employees would feel that it may pose a threat to their job security.
For example, when the computer system was introduced in traditional banks of Nepal, at the primary stage many employees resisted that change by feeling job insecurity.
The probability of loss of preset economic gain is one of the reasons for resistance to change. Many people believe that change would bring complexity and it becomes difficult for them to adapt to changing systems and procedures. They may fear a reduction in responsibilities and working hours and due to which remuneration will be automatically minimized.
Fear of Unknown
Change brings new knowledge and system in working procedures. People having limited knowledge, lack of creativity and initiation may feel fear of the unknown if any change occurred in the workplace, co-workers, or in a working system. They feel difficult to make decisions, to accept change.
For example, when a computer system first introduced in Nepal, employees of many organizations feel difficult to accept computerization because of fear of the unknown.
Selective Information Processing
Individuals shape their world through their perceptions. When something is selected in the processing information, people do not want to divert their perceptions towards others. They hear what they want to hear. They ignore information that challenges the world they have created. Therefore, when any change occurred in working procedures against the perceived world, people resist the change. In this way, it also becomes one of the reasons for resistance to change.
#2 Organizational Resistance To Change
Organizations are conservative in nature and they do not want to accept any change easily. The structure and design of the majority of business organizations are also difficult to change. The following are the sources of organizational resistance to change:
Organizations have their own structure and system to maintain stability in performance. They have specific procedures of selection, training, role, and other socialization techniques. Employees have a formal job description, and they have to follow specified rules and procedures for the completion of a given job. When an organization is confronted with change, this structural inertia acts as resistance.
Limited Focus on Change
The organization’s total system is constituted with a number of inter-related and inter-dependent subsystems. A subsystem can not be changed without affecting other subsystems. For example, the computerization of the financial system may become ineffective if other systems of the organization remain unchanged. Therefore, limited changes in subsystems become worthless as they may be neutralized by the total system.
Individuals work in the organization in a group and they consider the group norms, systems, and values. If individuals want to change their behavior, group norms act as a constraint. For example, an individual of a union member may be willing to accept change in his job suggested by management. But if union norms dictate resisting any change made by the management, employees resist change in their job.
Threat To Expertise
Fear of losing the importance of the job is one of the reasons for resistance to change. Change in organizational systems and procedures may threaten the expertise of one specialized group whereas another group of expertise may get the opportunity. One group of expertise may have fear of loss of a job, demotion, less economic gain, etc due to change in the present working system.
For example, managers and supervisors of traditional attitude do not want to decentralize authority and responsibility by feeling that it may reduce their expertise and importance.
Threat To Established Power Relationships
Any delegation of decision-making authority to subordinates may re-establish the power relationships within the organization. Managers who always want to remain in power do not want to accept change as it may reduce their status in the organization, even if that change is beneficial for the organization.
For example, middle-level managers and supervisors do not accept a participative decision-making system of a self-managed work team because it can minimize their status and role.
Threat To Established Resource Allocation
Any change in the organizational system may bring the concept of reallocation of resources into departments. Departments or groups in the organization that uses more resources often see change as a threat. For them, change is a reduction of budgets or cut-offs of their staff’s size.
For example, the production department is getting more resources in the traditional system of production, employees of this department may oppose automation because it would minimize the number of staff.
Hence, we see all these reasons or sources of resistance to change as they have a major impact on the achievement of organizational objectives, thus these reasons should be minimized at an acceptable level and if possible they should be eliminated.