Change Management Principles

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There have been various changes in business environment in the world. Globalization and technological change are just some of the major contributors to change in business environment. Increased competitions in business and business expansion call for various organizational changes. Managing change is one of the most challenging tasks in management. There is no organization that can compete and grow without making various changes in it organizational structure or other aspects of its operations. Despite of many theories that have been developed to assist in change management, many managers find change hard to manage. There are various challenges to managing change. This paper will look into some of the aspects that make managing change a challenge to most managers. The paper will also try to develop a strategy for implementing change in an organization.

Change is experienced in all aspects of life. In organizations, there are times when change is required. Organizational change can be defined as situation where an organization move from one state towards another desired state. Organizational changes are motivated by many factors but it has one main objective: to increases an organization’s effectiveness. Organizational change is a requirement in the modern business environment. Globalizations, technological advancement, increase in foreign trade, and frequent shifts in market call for an organization to change in order to adapt to changing business environment. Important to any organizational change is an organization’s employees. Any change in an organization affect employees in one way or the other. By nature, people resist change. People are normally comfortable to familiar environment and thus they tend to resist change (Tobin, 1999, p. 71). In a workplace where employees carry out certain tasks and processes, introducing change becomes difficult. Despite of natural resistance to change, there are times when change is required in an organization and has to be implemented.

Change management

An organization may require change in order to adapt to a certain business environment. In some cases, organization may require to implement some changes in order to be competitive against other competitors. Changes may also be required when an organization need to expand. In all the motivations to change, conflict of interest between individuals that implement the changes and those that are affected by the changes plays a major role to resistance to change. Resistance to change can be at organizational, individual or individual level. Organizational level change resistance is where there are many forces within an organization that resist change. Group level resistance is where a certain group or groups within an organization show resistance to change. On the other hand, resistance to change at individual level happens when an individual or individuals in an organization resist change.

Change in an organization does not come on a silver platter; there must be effort to implement the desired changes. Change management refers to a structured approach that is used to implement change in an organization. The main objective of change management is to facilitate change in an individual, organization or group from a particular state to desired state. There are various theories to managing change. These theories appreciate that any organizational change involves people (Tobin, 1999, p. 109). In fact change management is sometimes referred to as the people face of change. From this definition, it is clear that change in an organization involve people. The people involved, whether in senior or junior position, have great influence to success of change implementation. Success of a change in an organization is depended not only on the change itself but also on how the change is implemented. There are many cases where a change that has potential positive result end up failing due to how the change is managed. Change in an organization involves various stakeholders. All the stakeholders play an important role in organizational change. A successful change management ensures that interests of all stakeholders in organization change are considered. Failure to evaluate interests of the individuals involved in a change, may increases resistance or lead to failure of an important change.

Organizational change is a change that involve change all aspects an organization rather than small change such as employing a new employee. Organizational change may include change of an organizations mission or vision, major changes in operations, merger, or resizing. Organizational change is sometimes referred to as transformation. This term shows than organizational change leads to a new face of an organization. Organizational change implies fundamental changes in how an organization operates. The change is usually an attempt to realign to changing environment. Organizational change may affect an organization as a whole or affect some basic operations of the organization.

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change has various sources and motivation. In general people resist change because of the anxiety associated with it. Some employees feel uncomfortable with change because it requires them to learn new ways of doing things. The anxiety over unknown future that comes with change leads to resistance to change. In most cases people do not differ on the benefits of a change but fear for unknown future. Although anxiety over unknown future is the major source of resistance, there are other motivations to resistance. Resistance to change is the behaviors that aim at blocking change and maintain the status quo. Resistance to change tends to make change hard to implement. In looking into the causes of resistance to change, it is appropriate to appreciate that management and employees view change differently. While top management may view change as opportunity to grow an organization, other employees may view change as a threat to their careers. Change is mostly viewed as disruptive and intrusive.

Organizational change sometimes leads to nervousness and anxiety among some employees. Employees may be worried about their ability to cope in the new environments; they may fear over their job security or just feel uncomfortable with change. A part from employees, change also affects some managers in an organization. Change may threaten self-interests of some managers. For example, a change may affect the influence of some managers in organizational decisions. Managers who are affected by a change may fight to resist change.

Though not explicit, most resistance to change is rooted on fear. Change aim at moving from a particular state to a desired state. This process involves moving from a known state to a state that is not clear. During the process of change some individuals may feels the need to hold past because it was familiar and more secure. For example an employee was comfortable with the past way of working, the he or she may resist change with fear that they will not be able to perform under the new changes. Doing things is a familiar and routine way is comfortable. When changes are implemented, it means that people will be required to work in a non familiar condition. Implementing change is like asking them to move outside of their comfort zone. As many individuals do not like to work in non familiar environments, then there is likelihood for resistance. Resistance to change is even more common to individuals that have difficulty in changing their routines. Such individuals may resist change not because of negative effects but simple because it requires them to experience something new.

Apart from fear and habit, some individuals may resist change because of failure to understand the need for a change. The objective of change is not obvious to everyone. Failure of some stakeholders to understand the need for a change may reduce their enthusiasm to change. Some employees may view a change in an egocentric perspective with relation to their particular jobs. Inability to view change in relation to an organization as a whole, may make employee not to recognize the positive effect of a change. Failure to understand the need for change increases resistance. In this case, employees view the changes as unnecessary and disruptive. This attitude leads to non-cooperation in change implementation.

Change may result to loss of control. Familiarity with routines in a job environment enables employees to confident with their work. When change is implemented, some employees may feel as if they have lost control of their work. The other reason to change is unwillingly to learn. Some changes require that employees should learn how to operate in a new environment (Fleming & Senior, 2006, p. 237). Unwilling to learn, employees may resist change. A good of example where employees can resist change for loss of control and unwilling to learn is when new technology in introduced. When a new technology is introduced, employees may feel to have lost control of technology. In addition, some technology may require employee to learn leading to resistance.

Most of resistance to change is fear of unknown. Although some employees may recognize the existence of a problem, they resist any change that aim at solving the problem out of fear for unknown. Some individuals, however, may believe that the desired situation may not be better. They may fail to appreciate the need for change in the organizational perspective. Employees who only view change only with reference their personal standpoint are more likely to resist change.

Managing resistance

Managing resistance is paramount to change management. Ability to manage resistance is very important since failed change is costly to an organization. The first step to managing change is recognizing resistance to change. Change managers should be able to anticipate resistance to change. If managers can be aware of possible resistance in advance, then they can come up with ways to counter the resistance. Assuming that a change will be fully accepted by all stakeholders is one of the major mistakes made by change managers (Fleming & Senior, 2006, p. 241). This assumption makes the managers to implement change without caution. Some of the results of failed change are loss of important employees, low employee royalty and financial losses. These possible effects call for more caution when implementing change. It is possible to have successful change implementation. The success falls in ability to overcome resistance and motivate all stakeholders towards the desired change. Change management is defined as, the people face of change. This implies that any change to an organization should involve people. A change manager should involve the people affected by a change by explaining the need for change right from the start. Having a clear vision, direction, and strategy for change and appreciating viewpoint of various people play a big role in success in organizational change. Instead of proposing a solution, it is appropriate to involve the people involved in coming up with a solution (Tobin, 1999, p. 146).

Change management involves attentive planning and sensitive implementation, but most of all consultation with the persons involved. When change is forced on people then there is high likelihood for resistance. A part from consultation, the change should be realistic and achievable. A big gap between the current and the desired state result to increased resistance (Palmer, 2003, p.127). Before proposing organization change it is appropriate to evaluate the motivation to change, possible implementations and the desired results. In addition, the change managers should be able to marshal resources needed for change and motivate stakeholder to support the change.

The major source of resistance to change is fear. Change agent and the individuals that are affected by change are anxious of the outcome of a change. The individuals implementing change can overcome anxiety by critically analyzing the motivation for change and the proposed solution (Robbins, 1990, p.67). For example, in implementing major change in technology change managers should evaluate the motivation to the change, as well as the proposed solution. Change needs to be implemented in a way that people involved can cope. A change manager should appreciate fear towards change and natural resistance to change (Goodstein & Burke, 1999, p.98). For this reason, there must be enough time for implementing change. In addition, change should be implemented gradually in order to allow the people involved to cope with the change.

Before implementing change, it is important to inform the individuals affected by a change on the need for change. The change manager should ensure that individuals that are affected by a change understand the need for the change not only to the organization but also to themselves (Lawrence, 1954, p. 47). The change manager should also involve the individuals in deciding how the change will be implemented. This gives the individuals a sense of ownership to the solution. Instead of using other forms of communication, it is appropriate to use face to face communication to communicate the need for change. From conversation with individuals that are affected by a change, a change manager is able to ease their fears and convince them on the need for the change.

Communication is the most important element to managing change. The anxiety and fear that come with change can be eased with constant communication. All stakeholders should be informed on every happening that affects them in an organization. Change should be communicated from inception to implementation. Frequent and quality communication helps to ease tension and anxiety on change. Any change that affects certain individuals should be communicated in advance in order to prepare them for the change. In addition to communication, change managers should make effort to prepare individuals for change. For example, in change that requires training the management should train the employees before implementing the change (Fleming & Senior, 2006, p. 239).

Critical Review

According to Senge, organizational change is the internal changes than an organization adapts in order to cope with change in business environment (Senge, 2000, p. 102). Organizational change does not happen by chance. According to Robbins, organizational change must be planned in a proactive way (Robbins, 1990, p 15). Kanter asserts that a transformational change should result in change in character (Senge, 2000, p. 107). Any other change, according him, only results to loss of resource since it does not have a significant effect on an organization. According to Gouillart and Kerry, transformation occurs when an organization uses the full potential of its human resources and aligns cultural and structural processes with the mission and vision of an organization (Gouillart & Kelly, 1995, p. 89). Gouillart and Kerry compare organizational change to a living organism that grows through various stages. For them to survive, organizations have to change with environment. They emphasize on transformational effect of organization and view it as more than mere restructuring.

Resistance to change is common to all changes. Many scholars insist that resistance is the main reason for failure of most organizational changes. According to Ansoff, resistance to change increase cost and duration of change process (Ansoff, 1990, p.137). However, according to Beer and Einsentat, resistance to change has provided important information for developing more successful change process. According to Rumelt sources of resistance can be grouped into five categories (Rumelt, 1995, p. 67). According to him resistance to change result from perception of its need, low motivation and, lack of creative response. According to Lorenzo, past failures may create a pessimistic attitude to change. According to Rumelt, solution to resistance to change is to identify and respond to each category of source of resistance.


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Gouillart, F. & Kelly, J. 1995. “Transforming the organization”. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Lawrence, P.1954. “How to Deal with Resistance to Change”, Harvard Business Review, pp. 49-57.

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