Changes are good for organizations, and the task of the leader is to persuade the employees that proposed changes are not only challenging but also beneficial for the company.
There are many situations when employees start to resist changes because of a range of reasons. As a result, resistance to change can be noticed in different active and passive forms. In order to promote the further changes, the leader should focus on the symptoms or signs of resistance and try to determine the sources of it because of the necessity to propose the effective strategies to manage any type of resistance (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2009, p. 177).
Referring to the experiences of such organizations as Ajax Minerals and Perrier, it is necessary to identify sources of resistance in both companies, to compare and contrast the approaches to dealing with the resistance, and to propose adjustments in order to make the used strategy more effective.
Sources of Resistance to Change at Ajax Minerals and Methods of Dealing with Resistance
Resistance to change can be observed in any company. Thus, the leadership team at Ajax Minerals, a mining company in the United States, not only focused on proposing changes to address the economic and competition threats but also recognized two sources of possible resistance. It was found that the employees could resist changes because of focusing on poorly run changes in the past (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 180).
From this point, the first source of resistance was the painful experience associated with previous changes (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 178). Interactive sessions for managers and supervisors were organized to develop the change case and strategies in order to avoid unpredictable effects (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 180). Thus, the leadership team of Ajax Minerals chose to predict the employees’ resistance to the new changes and to the developing project while guaranteeing the cooperative work at the change case.
The second source of resistance to changes was associated with the employees’ suspiciousness related to poor management-labor relations. Employees could feel the discomfort of uncertainty because of being suspicious regarding the managers’ plans, activities, and possible outcomes (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 178).
However, the organization also dealt with that type of resistance and provided employees with open access to financial performance data (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 180). Furthermore, the employees received the opportunity not only to review the numerical data but also to share the information at meetings. Managers, supervisors, and employees were organized to participate in weekly meetings to discuss the promoted changes.
Sources of Resistance to Change at Perrier and Methods of Dealing with Resistance
The strategies and management approach traditionally used at Perrier and Nestlé differ significantly. That is why there are many contradictions in the manager’s and employees’ visions of the organization’s progress. The necessity to unite two different organizational cultures can be discussed as the main source of problems at Perrier.
Any changes proposed by the senior management oriented to the Nestlé’s standards are resisted passively and actively. The symptoms of the employees’ resistance are the criticism and denial of any changes proposed by the senior management to improve the organization’s performance and progress.
The first source of resistance to the change at Perrier is connected with the perceived and observed negative effects on the employees’ interests. Thus, the senior management planned to cut the workforce in 15%, and that change was directly associated with the employees’ salary, rewards, and social stability (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 183). The management tried to deal with the resistance while explaining the weaknesses of the ideals promoted by the CGT as the union uniting more than 90% of Perrier’s employees (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 183).
The second source of resistance is the focus on the existing or established culture, followed by employees to perform at Perrier. The organizational culture of Perrier and the used approaches to production differ significantly from the techniques and approaches promoted by Nestlé. If the employees at Perrier are focused on the tradition, the management of Nestlé promotes the enhanced competition and orientation to more profits.
That is why, to deal with the resistance to the change observed at Perrier, the managers chose to accentuate the necessity of the direct competition in order to state the position within the market. Thus, the managers emphasized on Danone’s products as the main competitors in the industry while supporting the idea with demonstrating the spread of Danone’s products (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 183). However, the approach was perceived as a provocation, and it resulted in the open sabotage of the managers’ actions.
Comparison of Management’s Approaches
At Ajax Minerals, the leadership team and management chose to predict possible resistance to the change while referring to the previous experience instead of coping with the observed passive and active forms of resistance in the future. On the contrary, the management at Perrier was not able to diagnose the changes in the employees’ attitudes in time, and the resistance to the proposed changes was active.
Thus, the employees chose to focus on the open opposition to the top management’s position and on the sabotage of the decisions. Many differences can also be observed in the approaches used by the management teams to deal with the resistance to change. The leadership team at Ajax Minerals created the specific channels of communication for managers, supervisors, and employees while organizing the interactive sessions as well as promoted participation in the decision-making process (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 179).
Furthermore, the managers provided access to important financial data for all the employees in order to enhance the employees’ commitment. The strategies used by the managers at Perrier were opposite because the leaders chose to demonstrate how the employees’ attitudes and approaches to performance were ineffective in comparison with the main competitors in the industry. While managers at Ajax Minerals promoted integration, managers at Perrier contributed to increasing the opposition among employees.
While referring to the comparison of the strategies used by two management teams, it is possible to note that the leadership team of Ajax Minerals used more efficient approaches in order to attract employees and demonstrate the advantages of the change. As a result, the resistance to the change was avoided because of the active involvement of the employees and managers in the decision-making process (Palmer & Dunford, 2008, p. S20).
The employees received the opportunity to share their opinions regarding the proposed change and to control the situation. Thus, the managers of Ajax Minerals used the failures associated with the previous organizational changes effectively to predict the employees’ resistance to new changes. The managers at Perrier and the representatives of the top management at Nestlé demonstrated worse results because the managers chose to ignore the interests of the employees.
Thus, little attention was paid to the fact that the cultures of Perrier and Nestlé differed significantly, and the techniques used at Nestlé were inappropriate for the staff at Perrier. As a result, the employees labeled the necessity for the competition between Perrier and Danone as the provocation and chose the methods of the sabotage in order to demonstrate their position caused by uncertainty and unwillingness to change the organizational culture.
Adjustments to Improve the Change Strategy at Ajax Minerals
In spite of the fact that the leadership team of Ajax Minerals chose to focus on effective strategies in order to promote changes in the organization, it is possible to propose two adjustments for improvement. The variants to manage the resistance are numerous, and the approaches effective to be used in the case of Ajax Minerals should be based on the idea of increasing the employees’ confidence.
Thus, the first adjustment is related to the promotion of interactive sessions. In order to guarantee that managers and supervisors are on the right path to promote the change, it is necessary to ensure the participants of the sessions that their opinions are valued, and there are no threats to their positions and status (Kotter, 2012, p. 114).
Thus, it is important to avoid ignoring the participants’ interests because of the necessity to prepare the employees for the change effectively. That is why, the first adjustment is the focus on ensuring managers, supervisors, and employees that their opinions are taken into account, and positions are secure.
The second adjustment is the promotion of the personal confidence of the employees related to the effectiveness of the proposed strategy. The numerical data which can be freely accessed by the employees should accentuate the expected advantages of the change. It is important for employees to know that all their efforts related to organizational changes are not unavailing (Oreg, 2006, p. 73). That is why much attention should be paid to providing the focus on obvious advantages of the change supported by the evidence and expected profits and gains.
Adjustments to Improve the Change Strategy at Perrier
The senior management at Perrier failed to propose effective strategies in order to manage the resistance of the employees to the changes. Managers working at Perrier chose inappropriate strategies to deal with resistance because they poorly identified the causes of the employees’ ignorance of any changes. While referring to the situation of combining two different cultures, the managers representing Nestlé and Perrier’s units ignored the opportunities to integrate the cultures in order to achieve the higher performance results (Palmer et al., 2009, p. 183).
From this perspective, the first necessary adjustment to improve the strategy is the focus on communication between managers, CGT representatives, and employees in order to determine the areas for improvement and persuade the employees to accept proposed changes.
Furthermore, the improved communication should be directed not only from top management to employees but also from employees to the top management. The resistance to the idea of enhancing cutting the workforce as a result of the lack of effective communication between management and employees because managers do not recognize the interests and needs of workers.
The second adjustment is the promotion of the employees’ participation in the decision-making process. While involving employees in the active discussion of the aspects of the change, it is possible to stimulate their interest in the idea and contribute to the effective adaptation to the change (Kotter, 2012, p. 112).
That is why the managers at Perrier should also support the participation of the employees of different levels in regular meetings in order to promote the change and improve cooperation in the organization. Much attention should be paid to discussing the employees’ positions, concerns, needs, and interests in order to receive the complex picture of the organization’s preparedness for the change.
Resistance to change can be observed in many organizations because the employees often receive little information about the change process, expected outcomes, and possible advantages and disadvantages. As a result, many employees follow the natural desire to keep their positions and avoid any changes and associated challenges. The problem is in the fact that the references to the negative change experienced in the past can affect the current resistance to change significantly.
That is why managers should pay much attention to predicting different types of resistance while developing effective strategies. If the resistance symptoms were not predicted, it is necessary to deal with the observed passive and active forms of the employees’ resistance. Referring to the cases of Ajax Minerals and Perrier, it is possible to note that involvement of the employees in the decision-making process regarding the proposed change and the supported communication are the most effective methods to address the resistance and realize the change.
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Oreg, S. (2006). Personality, context, and resistance. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 15(1), 73-101. Web.
Palmer, I., & Dunford, R. (2008). Organizational change and the importance of embedded assumptions. British Journal of Management, 19(S1), S20-S32. Web.
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Akin, G. (2009). Managing organizational change: A multiple perspectives approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Web.