Resistance is inevitable. It is a response to any attempt to alter the status quo. It suppresses, negates, or discourages change process in an organization. The act affects the change process by either delaying or slowing down the beginning of change, as well as obstructing or hindering the implementation of any slight change. According to Bruckman’s literature (Cummings et al), such factors like the alteration of the status quo, fear and anxiety of the perceived or real consequences of change, misunderstanding of the change itself, altering the way people see the world and questioning their values and rationalities and mistrust of those leading the change process. Besides these, factors like resistance to lose control, lack of psychological resilience, intolerance to the adjustment period and reluctance to give up old habits are some of the sources of generalized disposition to resist change.
Organizations should manage resistance just like any other resource. This begins by thorough understanding of the resistance type; whether it is at personal level or at the organization’s level. Managing resistance takes forms like education and communication to help employees understand the significance of change and its requirement; employee participation and involvement in the change process to give them the opportunity to clarify their doubts and to understand the perspective and change requirements; and empathy and support through active listening, thus reducing employee’s fear and anxiety towards change (Cummings et al; Sengupta et al., 2006).
Resistance can take either covert or overt forms. Covert resistance occurs when employees are consciously concerned about the change process and deliberately resist it but present themselves as if they are for the change. This can be through, for instance, sabotaging the process. Overt resistance, however, is not hidden. Resistance can be either positive or negative to the change management process. Negative consequences include delaying of projects; missing objectives; declining productivity; absenteeism and as well as loss of valued employees who may not be for the change. Positive impact, however, is minimal and may only send non-performing employees who fear change out of the organization.
Cultural context simply involves fitting change to organization’s context; including values held by a particular group, for example, power distance, context orientation and achievement orientation. Negative consequences can be experienced on the other hand because of ignoring cultural differences while managing change process. For instance, contexts, power of distance, uncertainty of achieving goals as well as individualism negatively thwart the change management process (Cummings et al 2002).
Dianne M, Waddel T.G, Cummings, C & Worley G. Organizational Change. Development and Transformation, 4th edition Asia Pacific.100-131
Sengupta, N. et al. (2006). Managing Change in Organizations. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India.