RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
It is necessary to have changes in our lives either personal or organizational as change is inevitable (Agboola, & Salawu, 235-242). However, not many people like change and whenever it is executed, it is met by resistance. The most common reasons why change occurs can be due to advanced technology, new distribution methods, continuous improvement, competition, quality movement and action learning organizations which occur to modify the familiarity grounds (Foster, 3-39). It is important for the change initiators to know the effects of change on the organization and individuals and employ the most effective change tactic that would be met with less resistance but have the same end results (Harvard Business School Press, 1-27. Most cases of resistance to change are witnessed because people do not like being controlled and so any altered decision is viewed as a means to control them which must be opposed at all costs (Harvey & Elizabeth, 5-29). The irony is people make changes in their lives that bring challenges to their lives through free will like getting another job, getting married or getting children and they always manage through despite the hardships (Haslam, & Pennington3-12). The paper is going to be a case study on different situations which I encountered that showed resistance to change. These cases will be further evaluated to assess what caused the resistance. Was it because of lack of knowledge as to what should change, not being able to do what was required to change or because of the unwillingness to change? How to identify sources of resistance to change will also be discussed. In addition, a conclusion on all the cases, causes and identification of resistance to wind up the discussion on resistance to change will be given.
We all have had the opportunity to witness the obesity debate and how it can be best solved through taxing junk food. Child and adult obesity population is Australia is on the rise and its costing the tax payer a lot of money in treating other conditions that are associated with it like heart failure and diabetes type two. The tax proposal is that tax should be imposed on all high calorie food with no nutritional contributions which would raise the funds to cater for cases of obesity and conditions cause by obesity. An increase in price would also deter people from buying junk food and result to purchasing healthier alternatives (Laurie 812 – 830). This would be possible if the revenue generated from tax on junk food is used to subsidize costs of healthy foods like fruits vegetables and other starch foods that are healthier. Those opposed to such arrangements include the food companies that see a potential loss of customers hence decrease in revenues and are using excuses that if tax is introduced it would only increase revenue and it would not be effective since people would buy junk food no matter what the price. Other arguments against the proposed changes are that the poor people who spend a lot of their income on food items would be affected most by such an act. Others base their resistance on the fact that even though tax is imposed on tobacco and alcohol people still consume them despite increase in prices meaning that the same scenario would be depicted in food tax.
The cause of change to resistance is because people are unwilling to change (Scott & Garland, 52-62. Junk food companies like BIG Mac are opposed to such taxes because they do not want to make changes to their current food items to include healthier alternatives or ingredients that are healthy. They also do not want to loose their customers who will have to turn to other cheaper alternatives due to high prices. The tax would mean they will have to spend more money to make the food items more attractive in addition to putting more money into advertisements to retain customers. People who eat the junk food but are lucky enough not to be obese are also opposed to the change because it would mean that they would have to adjust their spending and eating habits if they are to enjoy their favourite foods (Raelin, 35-45). Many families are also used to ordering junk foods like pizza for dinner or taking their families out to the fast food restaurants. If the price of fast food is increased it would mean that many parents will have to enrol for cooking classes so that they can prepare a healthy meal for the family which would also be time consuming. All those resisting the change of fast food prices do not want to change their poor eating habits as they would rather indulge in the appetizing junk food than eat a piece of fruit or include vegetables in their diets. They also do not want their favourite food altered in terms of sugar, fat or salt composition to conform with new regulation as they want things to stay as they are.
I have had the opportunity of working as a cashier at an organization that deals with processing invoices from vendors and sending them to customers who then pay through the organization and the opening hours were from 11.00 A.M to 6.30 P.M. The hours through which official business could be conducted were 11.00 A.M to 4.00 P.M. During first and second week of every month there was a heavy inflow of invoices where it was common for work to extend beyond official hours. In one month it so happened that there was a public holiday for three days and people made a lot of purchases during this time but unfortunately it was also a holiday at the organization. On returning on the forth day, there was a backlog of work and as employees we refused to extend official business hours and the customers who had not been served had to be sent away. The management reacted to the complaints of customers by adjusting the hors such that business hors were extended from 12.00 to 5.30 P.M while official hours were extended to 7.30 P.M. The next day, we were briefed of the changes that had been accorded but people were so furious and there were even calls for strike because of the changes that had been made and implemented without consultations with union leaders. To salvage this situation, the manager held a meeting with us and explained that due to stiff competition we could not afford to make losses resulting from not serving customers and that if we refused to work during those hours stipulated, it would result to us loosing jobs or being redeployed elsewhere.
The above scenario shows that humans naturally oppose change if it is introduced by someone else. In the beginning the employees could extend working hours to serve the large number of clientele especially during the peak season. However things changed after the holidays because they did not want to serve clients beyond working hours since they had become used to have free time during the three-day holiday. When the management decides to adjust the working hours, the employees resist this change because it has been imposed on them, a common human characteristic. Therefore the resistance to change is because the employees are unwilling to make the change to conform to the new requirements which would also affect the days that the workload used to be less (Jagadish, Para 1).
The introduction of online classes in most universities in Australia has created the necessity for lecturers to initiate change in their teaching methods (Kotter & Schlesinger, 130-139). I have this friend of mine in Melbourne who teaches computer science in the lecture halls. He has limited his communication with students through the email only especially if it is about clarification and handing in assignments or communicating other changes in his class. He values his face-to-face class and the physical contact he has established with his students as they are able to tell him things and discussions in class are lively. He is also able to communicate more with his students in the class setting where even illustrating is easier. However any other business out of class has to be handled trough an email address as he does not like the chat rooms. One might say that for a computer sciences lecturer his teaching style is rather very conserved and rigid. This is because such a situation would be expected in other lecturers who spend less time with computers. This trend was not to go on for long because he was assigned some online students from Malaysia and Singapore. This ensured that teaching style and communication means with his students had to change. He incorporated online lectures and an email where he held his lectures with students. When I asked him what he thought of the new style, he acknowledged that online emails were more honest than face-to-face discussions and that the online students had more respect for him as a teacher compared to the traditional physical class with his students. However, he does not like the new adjustment as it is hard for him to know the students personally except through the information they reveal to him through the web, which can be fabricated. He likes the feeling he gets when he walk into a class and his presences is acknowledged through how students conduct themselves as opposed to online lectures where he has no idea what the student is doing while he teaches. To maintain his authority to both groups of students he has refused to make his online delivery methods more informal and he likes email because he can communicate whatever he wants to the students.
There are two ways through which online lectures can become more interactive between the teachers and the students, email and chat room (VAN Dijk & VAN Dick, 143-163). However, my friend Mark uses only email and refuses to incorporate chat room into his teaching methods. One would expect that due to his expertise in the field of technology, he would be an expert in utilizing new communications methods that are made available by the technology. This is not the case because he is too selective on the methods he chooses to conduct human interaction trough the internet resource. Mark is afraid that through utilizing the internet, his personality will not come through and so his teaching position will become obsolete. He likes the face-to-face lectures because they make him the centre of attention and there is no threat that his image will be fragmented as he controls both the students and the resources in addition to online resources that are available to his students. His resistance to change is because he is unwilling to change as he sees the online interaction with students as a way to destabilize his image as a teacher.
The Job Services Australia is government initiative established to provide employment in an attempting to eradicate the unemployment from the country. This is done through offering training, work experience, development of skills in addition to assistance to job seekers. This is done depending on individual needs and capabilities. The service connects the jobseeker with employers because many employers come here to look for people to hire because they know that training provided is first class. I had an opportunity to serve as a job consultant inn these services and my work was centred around giving the much needed advice to employers on the available job seekers who have attained the kind of training and skills the employer is looking for and also giving employees direction on the job market progress and trends. During my tenure, I had the chance to witness the resistance to change that most of the people we worked with fought to conceal. In most cases an employer would ask for advice on available job seekers, then on hearing they are unemployed or have never had a previous job, they demand for ones who have worked before. This is because the employers were afraid of changing their system of hiring those who had worked in a similar position being offered for some time and take chances with those with no prior experience but with a potential for hard work. Also many job seekers were sceptical about being hired as they feared that their sedentary lifestyle would be interfered with if they started working. Both groups did not want change introduced in their familiar grounds.
In this case, the employers were resistant to change because they did not know what should change. This is because they are used to hiring employees who have worked for several year and has gained hands-on-experience in the kind of job being offered but here comes a challenge where the is potential employee but has no experience in any work though the jobseeker is armed with skills and knowledge. They are afraid of how to go about integrating such a person in their system and whether they are going to spend a lot of time in training the employee to the new responsibilities or it is a person who will catch up first with the trend. This resistance is because of the time that will be spent in the whole process. The Job seekers also do not have a clue on how to incorporate the new responsibilities into their life. A person who has been unemployed is used to having all the time to themselves without being answerable to any one else. They however have the desire to be employed and earn a living so that they can improve their lifestyle (Oreg, 73-101). The prospects of finding a job brings fear to the jobs seekers as they do not want to get out of their familiar life where they would have to adjust everything in their lives to accommodate the new responsibilities. Though they do not say it, this resistance is felt through their continual refusal to be employed as they reject any chance that they come across of getting employed as they want all the time to themselves.
I once worked as a volunteer in an organization where every work was done manually. The employees I worked with were all middle age and past as the only young people were the volunteers (Szabla, 525-558). The organization did not have many permanent jobs as it was a no-profit organization where money was scarce to hire more people because it was more important to spend it helping others without the capability to better their lives. Due to this fact, most employees are experienced people and the organization would like to retain them longer. However, the organization hopes to introduce new methods of conducting work in the organization through incorporation of computers that will sped up the process and bring more order. This would also reduce the workload of going through many huge files in order to get what one is looking for. The management is faced with the challenge of making a change that would be resisted by the employees or put up measures that would ensure that any form of resistance results to loss of jobs. They are afraid that by being so strict, they would loose important human resource assets that would hamper the continuation of the organization (Wallace, Para. 4). The employees too are concerned because it will take much time for them to adapt to the new systems since not many have worked with computers before and they are so used to entering data manually. The change process will be costly but in the long run it will improve the activities in the organization and the workers would also have more time to spend with their families. The authorities are torn between spending money to train the employees on computer application or let the activities run as they used to as they replace the employees with computer literate individuals as time goes by.
In the above description the resistance to change is due to not being able to do what was required to bring the change. The organization knows that it is best if work process was changed from manual to being digital but the organization is reluctant to initiate the changes (Davis & Songer, 1324-1333). This is mainly because it has grown used to having the employees around and it would be sad to let them go to pave way for computer literate staff as this would mean beginning from the first step. The problem is most people at the organization are volunteers and they do not spend much time working there as most of them are either college students on holiday or working individuals on leave. This means that permanent employees are few and they are the stronghold of the organization. It has often been said that you cannot train an old dog new tricks. The employees have been working all their life manually and therefore teaching them new skills could result in many errors and could also slow down the work process because most of them will take time to adapt to the new way of doing things making the whole process lengthy and costly though in the end, they will have retained the employees and managed to implement the new technology which would be an added advantage (Ford, Ford & D’amelio 362-377). However, there is no guarantee that if the employees are trained they will learn fast and they will be efficient. In addition, the organization does not have enough money to spend on training the staff since it is allocated elsewhere.
How to identify sources of resistance to change
One of the methods that can be used to identify resistance to change include Pareto chart. This chart utilizes the 80 percent 20 percent principle where 80 percent problems are caused by 20 percent causes. Data is arranged to enable identification of the 20 percent causes of problems (McCafferty, 76-84). Pareto chart is very helpful in assisting managers to know which areas to address first. Another method that is utilised is Force Field Analysis which is based on getting ready to change. It involves weighing of the advantages against disadvantages of the change to understand which outweighs the other before an action is taken. Force field analysis states that there are a number of factors for or against change initiation and that there is need to perform an analysis (Tague, 471). Weighing the factors against change and those for change will determine if the change is going to be undertaken at all (Sonenshein, 477-512). Resistance to change is caused if factors against change are more indicating that there is no motivation to make any changes. To find the root cause of resistance, fishbone diagrams are used which help in eliminating the root cause instead of addressing the symptoms. This should be done in form of groups so that the ones resisting the change can have a chance at participating in the process of identifying the root cause of the resistance to change (Suyampirakasam, 1-5).
In conclusion, resistance to change is a human character that is triggered if someone else initiates the change. Sometimes the change is due to unwillingness to change where an individual does not want to make any adjustments in his life, other cases it is due to not having any idea of what is supposed to change or not being able to do what is required to cause change. In other cases others are afraid that if change occurs it might have undesired effects and so it would be better if things were left as they were since things are easier to understand. No matter what the cause to resistance to change, the outcome is lack of progress and in some cases, progress made may be reversed. Change is important in our lives since we must keep adjusting the way we purchase items, what we eat and also how many hours are spent at work. It is important for managers to learn why the employees resist change and how they can be made to accept the change in a manner that would not cause a lot of friction.
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