Resistance to change comes along quite a bit in all organizations; and individuals are comfortable with what he or she knows. Organizations are constantly struggling with combating resistance to change, and all the while keeping individuals ideas and concerns in mind. In order to make things a little easier Lewin’s theory can be used, to make this transition to change a little easier. There is also organizational and individual resistance, and what major factors can cause resistance to change. Resistance to change can be managed, and how it does solely relies on the organization. Organizations have a lot to cope with on a daily basis, and when changes are made this impacts the company as a whole. Many things can contribute to resistance to change, and listed below are factors organizations face when changes are implemented.
Organizational Resistance to Change
When it comes to organizational resistance to change this has to be done very carefully. Resistance to change does not only affect just an individual it affects the organization as a whole. Some of the examples of organizational resistance are structural, threats of power, a sinking in costs, special treatments, groups, etc. The structure of the organization is one of the most important things; the structure is the stability, what makes the organization what it is. Power, if an individual or a group feels like their position is being threatened, resistance will be the first thing that happens. Power wars can hurt the memento of work that has been occurring before the changes.
Upper management may be a little more resistance when they determine the costs of training; changes happen and learning all again. Special treatments could be given to certain individuals, and the newer individuals are getting tasks, the older staff used to have. An organization has to keep all these in mind when trying to transition organizational change with resistance. There are some individuals that belong to a certain group, and listening to others how the changes are not necessary, so the individual will be a little more resistant to the changes.
Individual Resistance to Change
The individual’s resistance to change can be brought on by many different things. One of the challenges faced by an organization is other employees or other individuals not going along with the changes. Some examples of resistance to change can include fears of the unknown, employee relationships, routines, failure of communication, and economical conditions. Fears of the unknown can do an individual in. An individual that is resistant can make it quite difficult when changes do occur. Within an organization, relationships are built, and sometimes when changes occur individuals feel threatened, to the point of feeling their relationships with others will no longer be. Also, the employees that are in a group or working with one individual are normally friends.
By moving he or she, this will mess up the routine, and its takes them out of what they are comfortable with. Employees are used to their routines, and when taken out of their comfort zone, he or she can be more resistant to change. Failure of communication can be a big problem. If employees feel there was a blind side, and nothing communicated about these changes, this can backfire. Setting up a meeting with employees can make the transition go a lot easier, and not resistant to these changes. Economical conditions are a factor, and if the employee feels that there is nothing in it for them. Then he or she can be more resistant to change. Employees want to feel that there will be some reward to compensate for the trouble he, or she will be put in to accept the changes.
There are a lot of factors for an organization to consider, especially when changes are made. If done properly, an organization can have the proper reactions from employees, and the transition will be a complete success. Also, management needs to listen to any apprehensions, or fears employees may have. There are multiple methods that can be used when changes are taken place; one of the most successful is Lewin’s Theory of Change.
Lewin’s Theory of Change
Kurt Lewin is best known for the 3-Stage Model of Change. Lewin developed the 3-Stage Model in the 1950’s and is still used to this day. The three stages are unfreezing, changing and refreezing. “The model represents a very simple and practical model for understanding the change process (2014).” This model is still used widely and does serve a purpose for multiple modern change models. If an organization follows the 3-Stage Model of Change, the transition of change will be more effective. “For Lewin, the process of change entails creating the perception that a change is needed, then moving toward the new, desired level of behavior and finally, solidifying that new behavior as the norm (2014).”
The first step is unfreezing, for example if there is something frozen in one’s freezer; it needs to be taken out and thawed out. This is what occurs when changes take place. When a change needs to be implemented, the first step is unfreezing. It is common for individuals to resist change, and in order for this to be successful, the unfreezing step is implemented, and to let others be conscious of what is hindering the organization. During the unfreezing step, it is highly important communication is used to make the transition a lot smoother. Also, it is crucial for individuals to realize how important it is to be accepting to the changes and the logic and reason for why this is occurring. Once the individuals in the organization know how imperative and essential the changes the more beneficial it is to them and the company.
The second step is changing, for example once something is unfrozen then changes can now take place. “This changing step, also referred to as ‘transitioning’ or ‘moving,’ is marked by the implementation of the change (2014).” Now that this step is implemented new behaviors, values, attitudes, and ways of thinking are all put into practice. It will be easier for employees to embrace changes the more prepared they are. It is important there is communication, support, education of changes, and time is what is needed for changes to be successful. Change needs to be planned and carried out carefully. With proper support and mentoring the change process should run smoothly, and all involved can transition easily.
The third step is refreezing; for example, this is the process of reinforcing the act. This step stabilizes after the change has taken place. If this step is not carried out, this can lead to employees retracting back to the way things were done before the change was implemented. It needs to be carefully planned out to ensure that retraction does not occur, and enforced that this will not happen. The changes also need to be normal and part of the culture of the organization. The success of this can be rewarding to the employees, and organization when the help of the individuals reached goals during the changing process. The leaders can also acknowledge the hard work put into reaching these goals, and embracing the changes.
Resistance to change occurs quite a bit in any organization. In order for this to be successful, there are certain steps to be taken to ensure the organization embraces the changes. Transition to changes can come easy or be a nightmare to the whole organization. Kurt Lewin’s theory of change has worked for a long time and is still used for modern change models. Changes are key to the growth of the organization, and that of their employees. Using the 3-Stage Model of Change has been a success and has worked for many years. To obtain success, the organization has to embrace the changes, and to work together, not against one another.
Resistance to change is a given, it is a fear of the unknown, educating employees are key to how successful an organization will be once it has been implemented. If used correctly Lewin’s Theory of Change should work successfully for any organization. Change is not always easy for some, but if communication, mentoring, and support are all used, then the organization should have complete success. Today, tomorrow, months, and even years from now Lewin’s Theory of Change will still be working for organizations trying to prevent resistance to change.
Lewin’s 3-Stage Model of Change: Unfreezing, Changing, Unfreezing. (2014). Retrieved from