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What are the key arguments for and against managing resistance to change? Essay

This essay is primarily concerned with leadership and organizational change management. The purpose is to discuss critically the manner in which resistance to change is managed within an organization, with a focus on its benefits as well as drawbacks. The phrase ‘change management’ is defined and how its implementation affects organizations and employees. In today’s business environment, it could be debated that successful management of change is essential to any establishment so as to survive, remain competitive in today’s market, and for continued success (Anderson and Anderson, 2010; Wittig, 2012).

In most literatures (Bovey and Hede, 2001; Y? lmaz and K? l? coglu, 2013) concerning leadership and management, concept of ‘change’ has been defined as a process which involves going from the known to the unknown. In this regard, it is hard for employees to adapt to change at most organizations (Ravichandran and Piramuthu, 2012), therefore, employee resistance is inevitable, and management must be well equipped to deal with it (Baker, 1989 cited Fine, 1986).

The phrase ‘change management’ has been defined as “the process of continually renewing an organization’s direction, structure, and capabilities to serve the ever-changing needs of external and internal customers” (Todnem, 2005, p. 369 cited Moran and Brightman, 2001, p. 111). Generally, organizational change can be initiated by managers or come into existence through external pressure or implemented as a result of specific changes in policy and procedures.

In brief, organizational change is an effort made by management to have members of the organization to think, behave and perform in a different way (Y? lmaz and K? l? coglu, 2013 cited Kreitner and Kinicki, 2010). Changing nature of technology and economy, and the changing behaviour of customers pose pressures on businesses to change their cultural, structural and functional characteristics (Hashim, 2013). However, change initiatives may not be successfully implemented if there is resistance from employees and they often react to change efforts negatively and resist change (Y? lmaz and K? l? coglu, 2013).

Much of the literature on change management revealed a number of prerequisites for change in order to achieve success – such as communication, strong leadership, participation, vision, mission, and culture. However, the study revealed little information on the manner in which such prerequisites are to be achieved. It is suggested that if such prerequisites are lacking in an organisation, then change will be hindered by what is often known as ‘resistance to change’, which is seen to be problematic – a situation to be managed and deal with successfully (Mabin et al. , 2001).

Change requires the participation of employees who must first change themselves for organisation change to successfully implemented (Bovey and Hede, 2001 cited Evans, 1994). It is vital to communicate to organizational members information concerning the change in order to influence their reactions in a positive way. Effective communication lessens employees’ uncertainty (Elving, 2005 cited in Wittig, 2012).

Participation in decision making is positively associated with employees’ perceptions of fairness, which is vital for acceptance of change and commitment to organizational goals (Bordia et al. , 2004 cited in Wittig, 2012). Key attributes of in participation decision making, such as open communication, expressing new ideas, shared vision, common direction, mutual respect, and trust, are also suggested as the key elements in managing change (Erturk, 2008 cited in Wittig, 2012). Leadership styles can greatly affect the outcome of a change effort.

Democratic leadership is useful when co-operation and co-ordination between groups are necessary, so it is therefore a more appropriate style for implementing change (Mitchell, 2013 cited Tomey, 2009). Many change initiatives fail since change agents undervalue the importance of the individual, cognitive-affective nature of change (Wittig, 2012 cited Ertuk, 2008). The forces against change in work organizations include disregarding the needs and expectations of the organization members; providing inadequate information about the nature of change and not acknowledging the need for change.

Therefore, organizational members may exhibit fear and anxiety over such matters like job security, employment levels, loss of job satisfaction, different wage rates, loss of individual control over work and changes to working conditions (Mullins, 2005 cited in Y? lmaz and K? l? coglu, 2013). Changes preventing people from fulfilment of economic, social, esteem and other needs may encounter with resistance. Thus, people resist changes that lower their income, job status and social relationships (Y? lmaz and K? l? coglu, 2013).

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