Resistance to Change


Change is defined as pervasive influence, where all aspects are subject to continual change of one form or another (Mullins, 2005 , p.909). Also, change is an inescapable part of both social and organizational life.

The abstract of organizational change is in regard to organization change, as opposed to smaller changes such as adding a new person, update a program. Instance of organization-wide change may include a change in mission, restructuring operations, new technologies, mergers, collaborations, and rightsizing.

Change in organizational scheme is an attempt to alter the organization`s alignment with its environment.

The Nature and Causes of Resistance to change

Employees have to learn something new therefore they resist to change. In many reasons there is not a divide with the advantage of the new process, but rather a fear of the unknown future and about their ability to adapt to it.

Forces of Change

The general environment is parted in to different dimensions:

External forces for change originate outside the organization. First of all, these forces have global effects, they might reason an organization to question the essence of what business it is in and the process by which products and services are produced.

There are external forces for change is discussed below:

The workforce is more diverse and there is a business responsibility to effectively manage diversity. Thus, organizations need to effectively manage diversity if they are to receive maximum contribution and commitment from employees.

Technological changes are increase to many organizations, because of the rapid rate of all technological innovation. One important area of change involves equipment, thus a change in work processes or work activities may be necessary.

Almost all of the subject in change efforts revolve around people. You can change technologies, but incase people support the new systems, problems are bound to crop up. No matter how good a change seems on paper, if nobody will support it, it`s probably not good idea.

Political events can create substantial change. Although it is hard for organizations to predict changes in political forces, many organizations hire lobbyists and consultants to help them detect and respond to social and political changes.

Internal forces, come from inside the organization and might be subtle, such as can manifest in outward signs or low morale, such as low productivity and conflict. Internal forces for change come from human resource problems and managerial behaviour (decisions).

Levels of Change

Mullins, (2005) argues that, change can be studied in terms of its effects at individual, society, group, organization, national and international level. However, because of this, change at any one level is interrelated with changes at other level, and it is hard to study one area of change in isolation. For example, when HSBC decided to embark on using new modern banking technology, it also embarked on training its staff on how to use that technology and its importance in their day to day activities, otherwise that technology could not help if employees could not support it or if that technology could not be friendly trough the costumers.

In addition, Hersey, (2006) discussed levels of change by identifying four levels: knowledge change, attitude change, individual behaviour change and organizational or group performance change.

Hersey ,Robbins, (1990) commented on group and individual change, he argued that, at individual level, the change attempts is to affect an employee behaviour, through either training , socialization and counselling as strategies the management can use when they target at individual change. In that case of group change, he argued that, interventions such as sensitivity training, survey feedback and process consultation are some of strategies the management can use if it targets to group change.


There are two kinds of change according to Robbins, (1990), are unplanned change and planned change.

Unplanned Change

This change, is that change which can just happen, for instance, when managing director of certain company decides to resign immediately, is a type of unplanned change to the board of directors, as they are force to find another managing director as early as possible to run their company.

Planned Change

Planned change otherwise, is those changes which organization knows about: where are objective is to keep the organization viable and current. Mullins, (2005) argues that, most planned “change is triggered by the need to respond to new challenges” or opportunities presented by the in anticipation of the need to cope with potential future problems or external environment. It represents an intentional attempt to improve, in some way, the operational effectiveness of the organization.


According to Goldberg (1999), individuals are not really resisting the change, but rather that might be resisting the loss of pay or loss of status. They certain that it is time that we dispense with the phrase resistance to change and find a more useful and appropriate types for describing what the phrase has come to mean that employees are not wholeheartedly embracing a change that management need to implement.

All-pervasive in organizations is changed by in present economy. It happens endless, and often at high speed. Because change has become an everyday part of organizational dynamics, employees who resist change can actually cripple an organization. (Mullins, 2005)

Folgers &Skarlicki (1999) believe that organizational change can generate scepticism and resistance in employees, making it sometimes difficult or impossible to implement organizational improvements.

In recent days, companies, government department and institutions, whether public or private, are no longer have a choice, they must change to survive. Unluckly, people tend to resist change. It is hard to change an organization, let alone an individual. This puts increased pressure on management to learn the subtleties of change.
Managers and Employees look at the change differently; top level management sees change as an opportunity to strengthen the business and to advance in their career, althouh for many employees, including middle managers, change is never sought after or welcomed: it is intrusive and disruptive. The below 10 reasons are the best describe why some people resist change. (Peter Barron Stark CompaniesHelping CEOs, Managers & HR Professionals)

Fear of failure

Resistance to change can be rooted in fear. Some employees might feel the need to cling to the past hence it was a more secure, predictable time, during periods of change. If what they did in the past worked well for them, they can resist changing their behaviour out of fear that they will not succeed as much in the future. (By Tracy L. Chenoweth)

Creatures of habit

Doing something with the same routine, predictable manner is comfortable. Asking people to change the way they operate is meaning that to move outside their comfort zone. “We have always done it this way, so why do we need to change?” becomes the rallying cry for people who have difficulty changing their routines. In some cases, employees may deny or ignore the change simply because it requires them to experience something beyond their normal method of operation.

No obvious need

Some employees might realize a change only from the perspective of the impact it has on them and their particular jobs. They might fail to remember the positive impact of the change on the organization as all, not seeing the big picture. Therefore they might find the change disruptive and complately unnecessary. Their attitude may be, “if it is not broke, why fix it?”

Concern about support system

Changing the organizational structures might shake their confidence in their support system. They might concern about working for a new supervisor, with new employees or on familiar projects because they afraid that if they try and fail, there will be no one there to support them.

Employees may resist change simply because it is something unfamiliar. Not knowing much about the special of the change, they might imagine a worst case scenario, which might be so scary. These employees might acknowledge that a problem exists and confirm that a change may improve it. On the other hand, they concern that the proposed change may actually make things worse. Their fear reasons them to place roadblocks in the movement toward change.

Indefinity is the biggest of employee resistance to change. In the face of impending change, employees might become anxious and nervous. They might concern about their ability to meet new job demands, they might think that their job security is threatened, or they might simply dislike ambiguity.


According to report about BP Retrieved November ( 2008), BP is a company that has transformed its organizational model from a traditional model into a transformed model because they have learned to be dissimilar and expand all over the world bringing new innovative ideas and technology to a new generation of customers. BP moved on to find and harness natural gas and today they are working on many new technologies such as wind and solar power. As the desire for clean and renewable fuel sources arose in the world's economy so did the need to discover new ways to bring people power. BP is continuing to bring cutting edge technology and energy sources to the world and their future endeavourers look brighter than ever (BP, 2008). During the 1970s, BP suffered a major loss in profits and work because the Middle- Eastern countries began nationalizing their oil. This caused BP to lose 70% (BP, 2008) of its oil supply from the Middle East which affected jobs and organizational strategies. As the future of BP was beginning to look grim, oil was discovered in other regions around the world like Alaska and Scotland which gave the company new hope but bigger obstacles. Now the company had to figure out how to get the oil in these regions to refineries to be made into gasoline. New engineering and technology had to be used in order for the company to stay in business and transform their organizational model. In order for BP to succeed at the business transition it was necessary for them to create new ideas, bring in new personalities, research new technology and skills, and diversify the company. BP's transition would have never been possible if it were not for the knowledge of the latest technology and engineering. The company had to learn how to find oil and process it without losing profit and without making environmentalist angry. BP needs to find people who are good at researching chemicals and alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, and water. BP needs to ensure that their future will be secure so strong support systems need to be in place such as funding, popular support, supply and demand, and a strong relationship with investors and land owners.


It is important for managers to learn to manage resistance because failed change efforts are costly. Costs include decreased employee loyalty, lowered probability of achieving corporate goals, a waste of money and resources, and difficulty in fixing the failed change effort.

Involving people from the beginning, clearly explaining the cause for the change, having a clear strategy, direction, and vision, and respecting the viewpoints of other people are all parts of the process. (According to,

Starting out with a problem, and working other people to come up with a solution, might be more effective than proposing a specific solution and trying to rationalize it. Most of People do not like change they cannot control. So, if they lead or have a substantial influence on change, they are more likely to embrace it.

As the leader, you must take the time to understand resistance and you may have to come at it from several different angles before it is conquered.

Ways to reduce resistance to change:


Employee resistance to change is a compound issue facing management in the complex and ever-evolving organization of today. The process of change is ubiquitous, and employee resistance has been defined as a critically value contributor to the failure of many well-intend and well-conceived labour to initiate change. To close those gaps, managers supposed to know how to find and overcome resistance to change. Although there are no defining solutions, several techniques at least have the potential to decrease or eliminate this resistance.

There are three key conclusions that should be kept in mind before recommending specific approaches to overcome resistance.

First of all, an organization must be ready for change. Just as a table must be set before you can eat, so must an organization be ready for change before it can be effective. It is better to use survey to evaluate if a company is ready to undertake a change effort.

After that, organizational change is less successful when top management fails to keep employees informed about the process of change.

Finally, employees' perceptions or interpretations of a change significantly affect resistance. Employees are less likely to resist when they perceive that the benefits as a change overshadow the personal costs. At a minimum then, managers are advised to provide as much information as possible to employees about the change, inform employees about the reasons rationale for the change, and provide employees the opportunity to discuss how the proposed change may affect them.


In many reasons, large amounts of resources are expended by organizations to adjust employees to a new way of succeed desired goals. The natural propensity for personal to defend the status quo presents a set of challenges that management must overcome instead of bring about desired change.” Management must also seriously take into account and consider the myriad of problems that might result if they are not responsive to issues of resistance in workplace”.

Generally, whatever the changes inside an organization can be, and every reason that made these changes necessary, a good way of implementing the changes successfully is for a manager to treat the participation and communication with his employees as integral parts of the change procedures. (By Martin Reddington, Mark Williamson, Mark Withers creating value through people, 2005)

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