Change is an inevitable phenomenon in the organization. When initiatives for change run aground, business executives face resistance to change among its employees. Change agents can easily point their fingers at the people who never wanted to be the part of the change. However, blaming in the change phenomenon is not only pointless; it can also pave the way to destructive managerial behaviors. If the perception of managers for the resistance is threat, they can become defensive, competitive, or uncommunicative. The need is to find out the missing pieces and defective assumptions. Although resistance can be self-serving or unreasonable, it can be regarded as an important form of feedback. If the change agents and the organization are able to gain some perspectives through paying attention to, understanding, and then learning from the behaviors of people that are perceived as threatening, the change phenomenon can ultimately give way to delivering better outcomes (Palmer, 2006). The essay discusses sources of resistance to change in Ajax Minerals and Perrier, how companies dealt with them, and suggestions for adjustment in the change strategy for improving the effectiveness of the change strategy.
Sources of Resistance and the Dealing Ways of Organizations
Two sources of resistance that can be seen in the case of Ajax Minerals are:
Narrow focus on change: In such efforts, the organization adopts a narrow focus, as it does not take into account the interdependence among elements of the organization, such as structure, people, tasks, and the information system (Griffin & Moorhead, 2013). In the case of Ajax Minerals, the management had the history of planning the change without getting the people of the organization involved, thus contributing to the subsequent resistance. The company dealt with such resistance by first focusing on the communication for need of change in the company process. Thus, the fear of unknown gets removed by building up the platform through telling stories of companies that had to face similar situations and their suffering due to inadequate response to the market forces of competition (Palmer, 2006). Thus, the focus of change was changed from narrow to wide.
Economic factors: It is the individual resistance to change. Under this resistance, the anticipation or fear of changed pay and benefits develop the resistance among employees (Griffin & Moorhead, 2013). In Ajax Minerals, the trade union considered any step of change taken by the company as a means of layoffs or pay cut, and as a way of getting concessions in the contact talks between the company and the labor union. The company dealt with such resistance to change by adopting an open-up approach by sharing the financial performance of the company with its employees. In this manner, employees became aware of the market performance of the company that could enable the company to discuss economic factors with the union on an understanding note (Palmer, 2006).
Different perception: In the case of Perrier, the first source of resistance to change is different perception and assessments of the management and the employees. The management believed that the company employees understood the complexities of operating in a niche market that is growing with competition. As the Badiot Rouge bottle incident indicates, employees considered the action of putting the bottles of the competitor in cafeteria as a form of provocation. On the other hand, the management had the perception that such move would help the employees in understanding the growing competition in the concerned niche market (Palmer, 2006).
The company’s strategy was not appropriate as it directly used a gesture instead of communicating the situation and discussing it with the employees. The interpretation of the gesture was not positive from the employees’ side, thus making the situation worse (Lunenberg, 2010). No implementation of positive change could be seen in the case.
Low level of tolerance: The second source of resistance to change was employees’ low level of tolerance for change. A lack of awareness regarding the change could be seen among employees. Perrier made a significant amount of changes in a short span of time. It led to the situation where employees did not recognize the necessity of making changes for the growth of the organization. It led to the perception among Perrier employees that company took on a route to make unnecessary changes in the organization just to increase their routine workload. Therefore, the labor union went against the management of the company. A change in the ownership of the company by a take over from Nestle, proposed layoffs and a subsequent increase in workload of remaining employees did not go well with the stable attitude and behavior of Perrier employees, where they used to enjoy a very high amount of pay with less working hours. The firm did not have a suitable strategy for overcoming the resistance. The management did not respond in an effective manner, as it did not initiate any communication with the employees or trade union (Rafferty, Jimmieson & Armenakis, 2013). The options of layoffs and early retirement plans also made the union resist the change move because it meant that the employees would have to increase the tier productivity by three times.
Comparison between Ajax Minerals and Perrier
Situation as a Consultant to Firms
As a first adjustment, the company should not only adopt the open-up approach as part of change management strategy, it should also introduce effective performance management system. As identified from the case, although the change strategy can be regarded as innovative and effective, it involved some compromises on the part of management as too much power and openness was provided to employees, which could eventually lead to overconfidence of employees. In order to avoid rising of such situation, the company should introduce a performance management system that would evaluate the work of every employee in regards to set objectives and goals. It would inculcate the competitive attitude in employees, thus would reduce any kind of staff unity that present obstacles earlier. Secondly, the change policy should not be limited to educating and persuading employees. Negotiation and agreement tactic should also be applied. For example, medical benefits can be provided to employees in return to the changes made in the number of hours worked. Thus, company can compensate the impact of change (Lunenberg, 2010).
In Perrier, a low tolerance to change is observed. Firstly, the company should increase the involvement, participation, and engagement of employees in the change process. In general, the employees regard change as a threat because it challenges their status quo. A change can bring alterations in the way an organization works bringing about strategic, operational, or technological shifts. Therefore, change agents in Perrier are required to educate employees about the urgency and need of change as depicted in the Kotter’s eight-step model for change. Communication in the form of discussions, establishing an employee forum, reports, memos, and group presentation is needed (Ford & Ford, 2009).
Resistance can also lead to better results. Those who are outspoken about the objections that they raise to change are usually those who care in a genuine way to get the things right. They are also close enough to the inner workings of the organization; therefore, they can recognize the pitfalls in the plan. As CBT has highly opposed and resisted change by stating the ethical and moral concerns of men and women working in the concerned part of France, the management can ask these people for the alternative idea that could still be able to meet the objectives of the plan of change. Thus, consultative sessions with the union could help the company in overcoming the resistance to change as it can also present the benefits of new policy implementation (Ford & Ford, 2009). Secondly, by sharing sensitive information, such as current financial performance of the company and the current position of the company in the competitive market in an explicit and open way can help the employees in realizing the reasons for the much needed change (Griffin & Moorhead, 2013).
The two cases shed light on the ways in which companies tend to handle the resistance to change in their organizations. A proper involvement of employees in the form of educating them and communicating with them the change objectives, policies and benefits can help in overcoming resistance to change. Openness is a crucial factor with the help of which Ajax Minerals well handles the resistance, while Perrier faced heavy opposition from the employees. Ajax succeeded because it was able to change the perception of employees towards the change from a threat to an opportunity. Perrier should also inculcate a culture of openness and communication with employees.
Ford, J.D. & Ford, L.W. (2009). Decoding Resistance to Change. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2009/04/decoding-resistance-to-change
Griffin, R. & Moorhead, G. (2013). Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations. Mason: Cengage Learning.
Lunenberg, F.C. (2010). Forces for and Resistance to Organizational Change. National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal, 27(4).
Palmer, I. (2006). Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.
Rafferty, A.E., Jimmieson, N.L. & Armenakis, A.A. (2013). Change Readiness Journal of Management A Multilevel Review. Journal of Management, 39(1), 110-135.