Resisting and Creating Change – What Leaders Should Know

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We have all encountered a change in our lives at one point or another. For change to be successful, you have to accept it and be comfortable with it, regardless of its intensity. 1 environment where many people will encounter change is at work. Business leaders are tasked with ensuring the provider’s operations under their purview are run efficiently and effectively. This may sometimes require a change to the way the group, or the entire organization, currently operates after identifying an issue. Whether you’re a leader or a subordinate, the capability to handle change and execute change is critically important to an organization’s overall success.

Resistance to Change

If change is so crucial, why do people resist it? Vast portions of the present business research literature are devoted to determining how firms mitigate risk and why these techniques work. The same holds true for people; they resist change because it represents uncertainty and risk. At a 2011 newspaper, Myungweon Choi found that readiness for change, commitment to change, openness to change, and cynicism of change are all variables that affect an individual’s ability to deal with change.

How can we identify if individuals in an organization are more prone to resist change? Leaders can survey their employees, many inventories exist to give organizations an idea of whether someone is prone to withstand change, including an instrument created by Shaul Oreg in 2003 and validated instruments built for the Technology Adoption Model (TAM), and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (New Smyrna Beach Wildlife Removal). Leaders should also be able to identify individuals that may resist change from personal knowledge about the employees they work with. Leaders should also remember that the concept of resistance by itself should not be construed as a marker against an individual, after all it is a perfectly natural response. What leaders do need to be cautious of, however, is permitting that immunity take hold among a team.

The Importance of Followers

Burak Oc and Michael Bashur discovered that followers with higher personal power exert greater social influence on leaders, leaders who are psychologically more immediate for their leaders exert greater social influence on them, and massive groups will have more influence on leaders as a part of their within-group agreement. This is to say followers have just as large a role in successfully enacting change, if not bigger than the leaders hoping to achieve that. David Courpasson and colleagues studied this extensively in a paper titled Resisters at work: Generating productive resistance at work . In this paper, it was discovered that resistors can influence top management, and gain concessions, through active attempts. These efforts culminated in senior leadership with little choice but to give in to the resistance as the resisters managed to form new classes possessing enough power that forced the leadership’s hand.

Uhl-Bien and colleagues have investigated the notion of co-producing leadership, where followers nevertheless defer to a leader but with advising, challenging, or persuading behaviours that ultimately create more effective results. 1 key part of co-production of leadership is communication. Research shows that leaders who communicate with their followers that they have faith in their employees’ abilities lead to an increase in the follower’s ability to meet these expectations through an increase in their sense of competence and self-efficacy. Leveraging this can help leaders create successful change.

Jeffrey Ford and his colleagues also noted in their 2008 research paper regarding change resistance that many management practices that have been documented to decrease resistance, including communicating extensively, encouraging people to participate, providing people with needed resources and developing strong working relationships. An individual’s resistance can be exacerbated through managers who break agreements, oversee a breakdown in communication, and by dismissing resistance itself.

Communicating the purpose of the change is vital but describing how the change will affect the employee is important also. Bear in mind, change scares people because it involves risk and uncertainty. By demonstrating to employees that the change efforts you’re proposing will have a positive effect on them, they will be less prone to resist the change. By including these workers early on in the process, by listening and responding to their concerns, and by integrating suggestions they may provide you engage these folks and make them a part of the change procedure. By being part of the solution, they are far less likely to withstand the proposed change.

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