i) Introduction - Responses to Change

. "Resistance to change" is a "catch all" term used to describe anyone who does not change as quickly as we desire. On the other hand,

"...Resistance is the hump in the middle of the road that few leaders know how to get people over. Most managers think all they have to do is reward or threaten their people. Or they hope resistance will simply disappear once they have imposed change. These half measures are like putting on a clean shirt when what you really need is a shower..."

Robert Kriegel et al, 1996

"...we embrace change we control and resist change forced upon us..."

Peter de Jager, 2010

. We resist change if it is done without our consent and we have little or no control over the process

. Resistance is shown by "3 Fs", ie Flight and/or Fight and/or Freeze

- Fight (the prevailing emotion is Anger. Looks like: Aggression, shouting, threatening language, personal attacks to the change agent for organizational changes outside their control, open resistance to the change, complaints, criticism, actively gathering the support of others)

- Flight (the prevailing emotion is Anxiety. Looks like: avoid trainings and meetings regarding the change and ignore the change related to procedures being made, always have excuses for why not, active avoidance, silo strengthening, passive-aggression, absenteeism, quietly get others to 'join the cause' so we can complain about the change and find ways not to do it.

- Freeze (the prevailing emotion is Helplessness (can becomes depression). Looks like 'presenteeism', procrastination, analysis paralysis, busy work instead of value adding, depression, becoming overwhelmed and paying lip service. These people are 'Frozen' so they say 'yes' but do 'nothing'.

NB If one feels under threat, there is a tendency to be "hawkish", ie fight rather than flight or freeze

. People, rather than technology, are the greatest obstacle to change. Complexity of change is the human complexity, not the technical complexity. Need to develop ways to overcome people's anxieties. For example, the greatest challenge to reforming the Australian health system is the attitude of the medical professionals like doctors. Telstra, in its ReadyCare program where GPs are available over the phone for consultations, has alarmed the medical profession. They claim that Telstra is chasing profits rather than focusing on the best health care solution. Yet, it is expected around 30% of consultations online or over the phone.

. Remember threat response dominates reward. People are more concern of perceived threats, especially to status levels, by asking "why" questions, feedback, solving others' problem(s), etc. Perceived threats are subjective, ie vary from person to person. What can be seen as a threat to one person will not necessarily be seen the same by others.

. Reference point in change is an important concept as people are more concerned about losses than gains. If people anticipate deviations from the reference point, like

- a deterioration, they will resist change

- an improvement, they are less likely to resist

NB Need to be careful that goals do not become reference points as not achieving goals will be perceived like losses

. One of the first questions staff will ask when confronted with a change is

"...Is this change really necessary?..."

Daniel Holt et al, 2003

If the answer is 'no', then a wall of resistance that is very hard to overcome will develop

. Some other statements or attitudes that indicate resistance include

"...Change not needed......status quo is working fine......proposed change does more harm than good......lack of respect for the person responsible for the change......objectionable way of implementing the change......negative attitudes towards the organisation before the change......no opportunity to have inputs into change......change simply adds more work and confusion......change requires more effort than to keep status quo......bad timing of the change......a desire to challenge authority......hearing about change second-hand..."

Dennis Hall, 2006b

. It is important to realize that resistance is normal and something most of us do to protect our integrity. It is a potential source of energy, as well as information, about the change effort and direction. In general, going with the resistance ‐ not condemning it but trying to understand its source and motives ‐ can open up possibilities for realizing how to influence change.

. Resisters can act like early warning signs as they can highlight flaws in the change process

. Change pushes our brain into the most energy expensive area, ie executive function. The brain prefers not to go there as it will use too much of its available mental energy

 

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