“We are under pressure” said the manager. “Our old ways of doing things are no longer as profitable as they used to be. We must look to new and better ways of doing things. If we are to meet our profit targets for the next year, we have to make major changes. Unfortunately, our people are very much against change”.
Change is the subject of perhaps the best quotations. “If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.” wrote John A. Simone, Sr.
All of us have had to face issues when we came up against employee resistance to change. This may be covert or overt. Employee resistance to change is a complex issue. It is becoming more common in a rapidly changing work environment with organizations themselves constantly seeking to evolve to meet the new market requirements.
Employee resistance is a critically important contributor to the failure of many well-intended and well-conceived efforts to initiate change within the organization.
How does one get the commitment of people to change? Communication is key. Their fears or apprehensions must be identified and addressed.
I liked the concept of “personal compacts” written of by Professor Paul Strebel of the International Institute for Management Development. He is the Director of the Change Program for International Managers at the IMD. Prof. Strebel attributes resistance as a violation of “personal compacts” managements have with their employees. Personal compacts are the essence of the relationship between employees and organizations defined by reciprocal obligations and mutual commitments that are both stated and implied. Any change initiatives proposed by the organization would alter their current terms.
Personal compacts are made up of formal, psychological, and social dimensions. The formal dimension is the most familiar. It is the aspect of the relationship that addresses the basic tasks and performance requirements of the job. It is defined by job descriptions, employee contracts, and performance agreements. Management, in return, agrees to supply the employee the resources needed to perform their job.
The psychological dimension address aspects of the employment relationship that incorporate the elements of mutual trust, loyalty and commitment. The social dimension of the personal compact deals with organizational culture, which encompasses, mission statement, values, ethics and business practices.
Strebel points out that when these personal compacts are disrupted it upsets the balance, and increases the likelihood of resistance. He suggests that management view how change looks from the employees perspective, and to examine the terms of the personal compacts currently in place. ‘Unless manages define new terms and persuade employees to accept them, it is unrealistic for managers to expect employees to fully buy into changes that alter the status quo”.
Don’t dive head long into a change management process. To succeed, you need to invest time and effort in planning the change before you begin any form of implementation.
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