Today, change is an inevitable part of everyday business operations (Chapman, 2005). Thus, organizations need to prepare themselves for the changes that will affect them. Thriving organizations of today will not be successful if they are not continuously anticipating and managing economic, technological, political, social, market, and competitive intensity changes (Chonko et al., 2004). Causes of economic change include globalization of markets and changes in value of currency and tariffs.
Technological change, on the other hand, involves the developments in information technology. Changes in governmental policy such as taxes and trade are examples of changes in the political environment. Meanwhile, examples of social change include increasing environmental concerns and changes in population demographics.
A company must also be wary of market change which involves the changes in the constitution of customers and their needs and preferences. Competitive intensity changes as well. An example of this includes the introduction of new products or services by competitors. All of the changes mentioned in the text may directly or indirectly affect the company. Regardless of the extensiveness of their effect, a company needs to adjust the company structure, policies, culture, and/or business strategies accordingly (Hutchison 2001 cited in Chonko et al., 2004). The organizational changes must be effectively implemented and welcomed with little or no resistance by employees in order to survive.
Employee’s Resistance to Change
In her article, Reynolds (2005) provided several reasons why employees resist change despite its inevitability. One of the reasons could be attributed to the employees’ lack of understanding why organizational changes will take place. This occurs when the reason for the change is not fully and/or honestly explained by the leaders of the company. The change may also be resisted when it appear inconsistent with or in contrast to the goals previously declared by the company.
It also occurs when it is perceived as a threat to the progress or income of employees. Change is also defied by employees when they are de-motivated or discouraged to work caused by feeling burned out, overworked, and underappreciated.
Manifestation of resistance to change in employees may be observed when their level of anxiety increases. However, this is hard to detect. The presence of resistance to change among employees is often discreetly or passively displayed. For instance, on the outside, the employees seem to approve of the changes but other forces, motivations, doubts, and anxieties lie within themselves (Chapman, 2005).
To reduce employee resistance to change, Chapman (2005) suggested some simple ways. The first thing that the leaders have to do is to understand the “resistance as a real, physiological reaction” (Chapman, 2005). Then, the leaders must focus on minimizing the negative emotions while promoting positive ones and maximizing the opportunities that the organizational change will bring for the employees. To achieve this, the company must involve the employees in the process of change.
For instance, the leaders may conduct a working session where all the relevant work issues and possible solutions will be debated and discussed with the employees. The company must also clearly communicate how the change will personally affect the employees. Hence, the company needs to clearly inform the employees early on how the change would affect their job and livelihood, even if it means that some employees will lose their jobs. The change process would be easier for the employees if their fears are addressed and the benefits of the change are clear to them.
The Four Emotional Stages of Change by Anne Riches
Riches (n.d.) article summarizes the emotional stages a person goes through when he or she experiences a major shock such as a considerable change in the organization. During the first stage, employees will deny the idea that a major change will occur. After the idea of change has sunk in, employees will feel angered and tend to blame the company for implementing the change, reducing employee and company productivity. Eventually, the employees will start to reluctantly accept the change and explore their role in it. Finally, the employees will commit to the change and gain a clear sense of their role in it.
These emotional stages of change have several implications for the company. During the first stage (denial), the company should focus on minimizing the shock by providing adequate information about the change. Then, in the resistance stage, the company should empathize with the employees by acknowledging their response to the change. Subsequently, the company should support the employees by providing training and involving them in the planning process. During the last stage, the company should implement an appropriate cultural change program to make the change consolidated.
As a member (or future member, if you’re not yet employed. Kindly change this part accordingly) of the labor force, learning about the major organizational changes and how they can emotionally affect the employees is very important. While organizational change is a complex process, the emotions felt by all the employees involved are equally complex which the company needs to acknowledge. The employees will surely meet the change with resistance as the company implements the change. However, if the company will involve the employees in the change process and guide the employees in each emotional stage, the chance of successfully implementing it would increase.
Chapman, A. (2005). A new take on resistance to change. Keeping Good Companies,
57(5). Retrieved November 19, 2007 from http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/468962-1.html
Chonko, L. et al. (2004). Organizational readiness for change, individual fear of change,
and sales manager performance: an empirical investigation. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 24(1), 7-17
Reynolds, L.H. (May 2005). The challenge of change. The Galley. Retrieved November
19, 2007 from http://www.iabcdetroit.com/pdfs_galley/g050205.pdf
Riches, A. (n.d.). The four emotional stages of change. In Anneriches.com. Retrieved
November 19, 2007 from http://www.anneriches.com.au/article-ct3.html