Resistance to change – Levels, Overcoming Resistance

Resistance to change – Levels, Overcoming Resistance

Resistance to change in a typical organization refers to an employee’s behaviour designed to discredit, delay or prevent instructions of change in an organization. However, resistance to change can be individual as well as organizational.

Reasons why employees show resistance to change?

  • Job security – Fear of losing job
  • Change in working climate
  • Obsolescence of skills
  • Change in social interactions and relationships
  • Change in role or status

Reasons why organizations show resistance to change?

  • Lack of resources
  • Difficulty in implementing structural or technological changes
  • Lack of vision, Motivation, Knowledge
  • Due to Sunk Costs associated with change

Levels of Resistance to Change

(1) Individual Level

At an individual Level, there is resistance to change due to the following reasons:

Economic ReasonsPsychological ReasonsSocial Reasons
Job securityEgo DefensivenessSocial Displacement
Skill ObsolescenceEmbracing Status QuoGroup resistance or Peer Pressure
Fear of economic LossLow tolerance to changeLack of trust on change agent
Reduced opportunity for incentivesFear of Unknown 
 Selective perception 

(2) Organizational Level

At an organizational level, there is resistance to change due to:

  • Threat to existing power and influence in the organization
  • A rigid organization structure favours stability more than innovation
  • Unfavourable Organization Culture and Norms
  • Resource constraints
  • Sunk Costs associated with organizational change

Overcoming Resistance to change

Some approaches to overcome resistance to change at an individual level as well as organizational level are:

  • Participation and Involvement – Encouraging participation and involvement of individuals who will be affected by the change in the change process, reduces uncertainty and clarifies any doubts that the individuals might have.
  • Communicating and Educating – Educating the employees about the need and benefits for change and communicating with employees about their problems with change helps to gain acceptance from employees.
  • Negotiating and obtaining commitment – Management can offer rewards to people who cooperate with the change and/or negotiate something of value to obtain commitment for support from participants to avoid resistance.
  • Effective Leadership – A change agent can make supportive efforts and attempt to reduce the fear and anxieties of employees through sympathetic listening, job counselling and being compassionate about their problems.
  • Manipulation – Management can choose to withhold information that they feel will lead to resistance from employees and manipulate them to gain their support.
  • Coercion – Management can use their formal power (transfer, demotion, termination etc.) and force employees to be supportive of change.

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