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Managing Resistance to Change

01.Sometime back

this author had written an article titled “ Are your employees leaving the organizations in disgust? Apply Change Management practices”. While discussing about the various aspects of Change Management concepts, it is informed that the employees, for obvious reasons, generally dislike changes brought in by the management, as they do not like to come out of the existing practices.

This article makes an attempt to demystify the resistance to changes by the employees, besides explaining why do they develop such resistance to changes .It is also discussed that how this issue can be resolved and how to make use of their resistance to maximize the working results of the organization, while proceeding with the change efforts.

02.Reactions to Change.

The resistance to change is purely a psychological concern only. They are concerned with their safety. They do apprehend whether they would be protected and free from harm during the period when changes are implemented. The situations caused by changes will trigger the psychological responses such as safety and security. Some of these responses may be positive and some others may be negative. For example, if people with decision-making powers were taken out, on account of change efforts, it would cause a negative result. On the other hand if they are told clearly about these early and given clear options to chose from, they would be more positive about the change.

In the same way, people who are accustomed to a particular style of working will find it very difficult to change their way of working and they do resist such changes.

Change causes people to question whether they would continue to have the same level of power and control; even after the change measures are introduced.

Employees are concerned whether the changes would cause a deceleration in their income level and apprehend whether such decisions would be fair enough to them or based on whim or nepotism.

Again, employees apprehend whether they would continue to be recognized and cared even after the changes are introduced or would be treated poorly.

Hence the resistance to change is displayed by the employees on account of factors such as Safety and Security, habits, fear of loosing control, economic factors and finally their apprehension about loosing importance and recognition in their organization.

03.The Change Process.

Now, let us discuss how the resistance for change can be removed. In fact the change leaders must attend to People’s core psychological issues by adopting the following measures. It involves taking people through four phases of change, as under.

a. Awareness – Tell the employees why these changes are contemplated and what is the result anticipated.

b. Understanding-In what way the changes contemplated would affect the job, role and responsibilities of the employees

c. Acceptance-What type of support and training the employees would get, consequent
to the changes contemplated.

d. Commitment-Involvement to increase both bottom line and top line of the business

Above all, change leaders should remember one important point that the resistance to change
is mainly on account of ego of the employees concerned. If the changes contemplated are discussed with the employees sufficiently early and all their clarifications are properly explained, then the problem of resistance can be avoided.

Alternatively, the employees should be prepared for a change through the following.

Vision, Communication, Organization Goal, Training and Support

04.How do people react to Change-a live Case study?

The author of this article had an occasion to introduce change measures, while he was working as an executive in a bank. The Corporation of the local city is one of our valued customers and our bank has an extension counter at their premises for their convenience. The working hours also was fixed taking in to account their way of functioning, that is from 11.00 AM to 6.00 P.M.
The business hours during which they can transact business is 11.00 A.M to 3.30 P.M.

During the second week of every month, there would be heavy inflow of cash and generally the quantum cash would range in the order of Rs 75 Lacs and the employees were cooperating even by working beyond the stipulated hours.

It so happened that in one month, there were three consecutive holidays and on the day of reopening, there was heavy collections and Cashiers of Corporation came to the Bank for remitting cash at 4.30 PM only. The employees on that day refused to accept the Cash, on the plea that time was over. The undersigned somehow managed the situation and decided that some thing should be done to correct this situation because the Cashiers of the Corporation can come on busy days after 4.00 P.M only and taking in to account the quantum of business we get, the working hours are to be changed to their convenience.

Next day, with the concurrence of the higher authorites, the business hours were changed from 12.30 PM to 4.30 PM and office hours up to 7.30 P.M.The employees were advised accordingly.
There were resistances from the employees for the change of working hours and union leaders also started shouting.

The author called for a meeting of all employees and the union leaders and informed categorically that the bank cannot afford to lose the account of the Corporation and the other banks are ready to serve them. Since the extension counter is put up at their premises for their convenience, it would not be fair to insist them to have their functions according to bank’s convenience. If the changes contemplated are to be dropped, then the bank would loose a valuable customer and the extension counter be closed and the employees would be redeployed.

The fair and frank discussions, the author had with the employees, had a telling effect and they realized their folly. However, they wanted the time be changed; that is, instead of 12.00 PM.the branch be opened by 12.00 Noon and they have assured that they would extend their full cooperation in receiving cash on busy days even beyond the stipulated hours. Thus the resistance to change could be solved to the satisfaction of the employees.

05.Employees`resistance-a potential energy for Change effort.

It now clear that when employees do not accept the change measures and do not like the change process, the same should be seen as a healthy and beneficial wake up call for improvement. Each employee can be considered as a product of intelligent people with good common sense, trying to make things better.

It must be construed that dealing with resistance in positive ways is one of the good strategies for accelerating the change effort. Employee resistance can be considered as potential energy, which can be harnessed for improving the bottom line of the organization.

In the case referred to as above, the resistance of the employees for the changes in timings could result in motivation of their morale and the employees develop a sort importance for the bank to develop and come to the conclusion that the growth of the Bank is the growth of the employees Alternatively, the welfare of employees depends on the growth of the organization.

Article by: S.Suyampirakasam, Divisional Manager (Retd) Canara Bank

Retired executive of canara Bank,31 years of Bank experience,A graduate in Chemistry and a certified Associate of Indian Institute of Banking and Finance with a rank.Good exposure in Credit management and Foreign Exchange,After retirment,I am doing consultant works like project Preparation, conducting viability study and feasibility study,preparing rehabilitation programme for Sick Industrial units. I am a visiting faculty for MBA students of the following three colleges,handling International Financial Management,International trade and Documentation and Economics a.ICFAI National college b.Thiagarajar School of management c.R L Institute of Management Studies. A freelance writer