iii) Resistance to Change

Introduction

. Resistance to change does not necessarily surface in obvious ways; it can be obvious, implicit, immediate or deferred. Resistance that is obvious and immediate is the easiest to deal with. Implicit resistance is more subtle, such as loss of loyalty, loss of motivation, increased mistakes, increased absenteeism, etc; these can be difficult to recognise. Deferred actions can cloud the link between the source of resistance and the reaction to it. Reaction to change can build up and explode unexpectedly as a cumulative response.

. Resistance can be considered a natural reaction ‐ a step in a process that ultimately leads to adoption of the change. It is a normal response for those who have a strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo and guarding themselves against loss. Sometimes the resistance is over-simplified at the start of a change process. The expression "I won't" can be unpacked to "why should I?" In other words "why should I let go of something that has meaning to me? If I let go of it, what do I get in its place?"

. The strength of resistance can give an estimation of the degree to which the change has latched on to something meaningful. Discovering what is valuable can be important for designing or amending change strategies. When confronted with reactions that reflect resistance, the following questions could be asked:

- why has the resistance occurred at this particular point?

- what is being resisted and why?

- how is the resistance being demonstrated?

- are there any outside influences causing or adding to this behavior?

. One of the most common mistakes made by managers when they encounter resistance is to become angry, frustrated, impatient or exasperated. The problem with an emotional reaction is that it increases the probability that the resistance will intensify.

 

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