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?Somebody once said: ?The only one who likes change is a wet baby??

(Mariotti, 1996, p. 30) We as human beings are always resistant to change if we are

comfortable with surroundings and ourselves. We do not like to be challenged with

change because of fear of the unknown. ?Resistance is a natural reaction to change.?

(Maurer, 1996, p. 75) In order to fully change an individual?s style of thinking and

working, we must understand the theory and techniques in order to break down the

barrier of resistance. There are several reasons for resistance to change from employees.

These reasons include fear of the unknown, threatening job security, bad timing, lack of

resources, no personal gain, and fear of incompetence. Individuals that are resistant to

change fear the unknown when they do not know how it will affect their lives, and the

changes it will bring. The perceived threat to job security is a factor that will cause

resistance. People who think that change may cause them to lose their job will oppose it.

Bad timing also plays a major role in the sense that temporary circumstances may suggest

that change should be postponed. At many times corporations may be unsuccessful with

change due to lack of resources. This includes skills, abilities, finances, knowledge, and

staff needed to implement change. Employees may also be resistant because they have

no perception of personal gain with the change. People who think that change will not

benefit them personally and fairly are certain to resist it. One of the most important

resisters to change is fear of incompetence. ?Some people may fear they will not be able

to handle new job requirements.? (Grimaud, 1994)

The real cause of reengineering failure is not the resistance to change itself

but the inability of management to deal with it. Achieving change means responding to

key factors ? including emotions like fear and anger ? which drives human beings

behavior on jobs. Change is painful. When people are pushed to change, they push back.

All changes, no matter how beneficial they may seem, cost someone something.

Resistance to change is natural and inevitable. Two thirds of reengineering efforts fail

due to people?s reluctance to go along and buy management?s own ineptitude and fear.

In order for change to take place management must empower people and listen to their

ideas. They must constantly communicate the company?s goals and how they expect to

achieve them. Management must also lead by example and be consistent. People will

usually believe what they see and not what they hear. It is simpler to grasp and even

champion these notions than it is to actually act on them. ?Unless decision-makers are

willing to acknowledge the full range of reaction to change, reengineering is an

interesting theory and nothing more.? Fisher, 1995)

Although overcoming resistance is no easy task, recognizing the most

common barriers to change can move things along. These barriers include: The element

of surprise. People first reaction to change is often resistance. Instead of surprising

employees with change initiative, management should involve them in the planning

process. ?This will transform surprises into forgone conclusions.? (Armentrout, 1996)

Fear of obsolescence. People will resist change that will make their skills and

competencies obsolete. Implementing programs to retain workers for new jobs and

helping them develop new skills will help management overcome this obstacle. ?The

assurance will make employees more likely to support change.? (Armentrout, 1996)

?If it ain?t broke, don?t fix it? is often the battle cry of those who resist change. The fact

of the matter is that many employees will not support a change until they clearly see the

need for it. To combat this, start selling the benefits of a proposed change before you ask

employees to implement it. ?When employees see the need for change themselves, they

will come aboard.? (Armentrout, 1996) A sense of insecurity. When asked to carry out a

change effort, employees may be reluctant to try new ideas and opt for older methods.

?Acknowledging the fears that change can invoke and creating an environment that

fosters and rewards innovation can help break this barrier.? (Armentrout, 1996) Conflicts

in personality. A clash of personalities can derail an intended change effort. Change will

often require employees to make new relationships with other workers. With these new

alliances comes the potential for conflicts. One of two things can be done to avoid these

conflicts. ?An informal meeting may be called where employees can air their differences

or staffers can be counseled that professionals rise above personality differences to get

the job done.? (Armentrout, 1996)

Today?s managers must visualize the future and engineer the changes to

get there. There are certain steps that can be taken by managers in order to make change

easier on the individual employee and gain his or her commitment. These principles for

managing resistance to change from employees are as follows: 1. PROVIDING

RATIONALE ? Reasoning for change should be shared with employees. Taking the

time to explain the change will benefit the company and aid in achieving the company?s

vision and values. The more that employees see that their intelligence is respected, the

more open-minded they will be to change. 2. BE EMPATHETIC ? Employees need to

know that management appreciates the difficulties such change will create. The effect of

change on employees must be thought out and then some plan implemented to lessen the

negative effects. 3. CLEAR COMMUNICATION ? Communicate all details and

particulars as clear and comprehensive as possible, both verbally and in written form.

Explain in detail the specifics of the transitions that need to occur in order to make the

change complete. 4. EXPLAIN THE BENEFITS ? Show how the change will benefit the

employees. When the employees see the benefits, it becomes incentive for them to help

implement the new way. Explain that the change will answer all questions regarding the

old way. 5. IDENTIFY A CHAMPION ? When appropriate, identify a highly respected

manager who will head the change effort. If the change is big enough, a Transistor

Management Team may be established. Others who may not be in management but are

respected as leaders may be apart of this team. 6. OBTAIN INPUT ? Allow persons

affected by change to offer their input and to express their needs. Show how their ideas

have been incorporated. The more employees think they have a say in the change, the

more support the change will have. Use employees as a resource. They will have a

wealth of ideas that will help the change go smoothly. Empowered employees are

committed employees. 7. BE AWARE OF TIMING ? Make sure that the change does

not interfere with any other happenings. For example, doing inventory in a retail store on

the day after Thanksgiving. Most businesses have certain times during the year when

change cannot be implemented. These times should be avoided. 8. MAINTAIN JOB

SECURITY ? Where feasible, employees job security should be maintained. If jobs must

be eliminated, explain the process of how these decisions will be made. For example,

seniority, performance, etc. The greatest enemy to change is fear. Employee?s fear must

be diffused. 9. PROVIDE TRAINING ? Training or retraining must be made available to

those employees who will need new skills. Training will make employees feel competent

and confident in a new way. The new skills will make employees more valuable to the

organization and other firms. 10. PROCEED AT A MANAGEABLE PACE ? Employees

require time to acclimate. If change is not rushed and is done at a manageable rate, it

does not become threatening to employees. Very often the quickest diffuser of

employees enthusiasm is when they feel overwhelmed by either too many changes or too

quick of a change. 11. TOP MANAGEMENT SUPPORT ? Top management must

behave consistently in ways to support the change. Mixed messages can be fatal to a

change effort. If top management says one thing but does another, the employees will

regard the change as a joke. Employees focus on what top management does, and not


CONNECTIONS WHERE NEEDED? ? If things are going well, publicize it. Nothing

serves as a greater motivator as seeing progress. Listen to what employees have to say.

If employees feel that suggestions are not being considered, they will not offer anymore.

Companies cannot afford to let a gold mine of information be forgotten. 13. PROVIDE

SERVICES FOR EMPLOYEES ? Employee anxiety is one factor that will impede the

success of a change effort. ?This anxiety can be managed by counseling, Employee

Assistance Programs, or even early retirement.? (Iskat & Liebowitz, 1996)Implementing

change is a proven approach that provides management with a systematic process of

dealing with the issues critical to the achievement of business reengineering. It helps to

identify potential roadblocks to change efforts. It assists in evaluating and selecting the

persons who will implement the change. It also uncovers possible causes of resistance

from those who are modifying their behavior. ?It enables the change leaders to develop

both basic and specific tactics to follow through with the change throughout the

organization in a way that will create ownership and commitment.? (Arendt, Landis, Russ

& Meister, 1995)

Active Learning is an innovative educational methodology used to help

people remove their fear, resentment, and resistance toward change by immersing them

into the change process itself. Active learning serves as a vehicle for workers to

understand how new knowledge applies to them and their jobs. Role playing,

brainstorming, cooperative learning, and critical analysis are techniques used in this

innovative learning methodology. In traditional lecture-type methodology listening is the

predominant means of acquiring instruction. By nature, human beings tend to become

distracted and disinterested in this method. Active learning results in an increased ability

to understand, retain, and apply the subject matter to working environment. This

methodology prompts creative thinking and perceiving a subject matter from a variety of

different or new perspectives. ?Research suggests that these techniques should be

adopted in manufacturing education to increase interest, understanding , retention, and

application of instructional information.? (Weitz, 1995)

Resistance is an inevitable response to any change. People naturally rush

to defend the status quo if they feel their security or status is threatened. Change is

unnerving to most people, even positive change. If managers do not understand accept

and make an effort to work with resistance, it can undermine even the most well

intentioned and otherwise well-conceived changes. There is no one strategy for dealing

with resistance. Changes take place in today?s workplace and require managers who

have strong communication skills to build staff support and strong planning skills to

make changes happen. Managers must also be flexible and adaptable, able to change

their own management style and approach to work successfully with the end product of

change efforts.

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