Managing Resistance to Change

Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes — it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm.”

— Peter Drucker

Kurt Lewin came up with concept of force field analysis. For every change there are forces which support change and there are forces which oppose change. As long as these forces are equal, equilibrium is maintained.

If you wish to bring about change then the leader has to reduce the intensity of forces resisting the change. This can be done through various ways like open and transparent communication, use of super- ordinate goals, use of power etc.

Once the resistance is reduced the change takes place, as forces in favour of change are stronger than forces resisting the change i.e. the equilibrium are broken.

“After living with their dysfunctional behavior for so many years (a sunk cost if ever there was one), people become invested in defending their dysfunctions rather than changing them.”

— Marshall Goldsmith

Post change, employees fall in four categories depending on their reaction to change…

  • Protestors- Make their objections known to organisation and colleagues, but over a period of time protest dies down and these employees are manageable.

'This is the most positive thing I've done all year.'

  • Zombies- Have no opinion and go with the flow i.e. go along any proposed change without protest.

zombies

  • Saboteurs- Will always try to show that old ways were best, and don’t miss any opportunity to find faults with new system. They will always seek opportunities to make change fail

sabotage

  • Survivors- Accept change and make best use of any opportunity for their benefit.A change agent should be aware of how many employees are there in each category and accordingly design plan to mitigate post change related problems.

survivors

A change agent should be aware of how many employees are there in each category and accordingly design plan to mitigate post change related problems.

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