Selecting a change management strategy
The selection of a strategy for change management within an organization has consequences for the outcome. Therefore, the following factors need to be considered in determining the nature of change management strategy to adopt.
- Degree of resistances: Strong resistance to change requires the coupling of power-coercive and environmental adaptive strategies. Weak resistance or concurrence involves a combination of rational empirical and normative reductive approaches.
- Target Population: Large populations require a mix of all four strategies, i.e., Rational-Empirical, Normative-Reductive, Power-Coercive, and Adaptive environmental approaches.
- The stakes: High stakes require a mix of all four strategies because nothing can be left to chance.
- The time frame: Short time frames require a power-coercive strategy; more extended time frames require a mix of rational-empirical, normative-reductive, and environmental-adaptive methods.
- Expertise: Having adequate expertise at making change requires some mix of the strategies outlined below; not having sufficient expertise involves reliance on the power-coercive method.
- Dependency:This implies that if the organization is dependent on its people, management’s ability to command or demand is limited. Conversely, if people are independent of the organization, their ability to oppose or resist is limited.
Basic strategies available in change management
There are four main basic change management strategies available to managers:
- Rational-Empirical: In this case, the assumption is that people are rational and will follow their self-interest once revealed to them. Thus, change is based on the communication of information and the proffering of incentives.
- Normative-Reductive: In this strategy, the assumption is that people are social beings and will adhere to cultural norms and values. Therefore, change is based on redefining and reinterpreting existing norms and values and developing commitments to new ones.
- Power-Coercive: This strategy assumes that people are basically compliant and will generally do what they are told or can be made to do. Change is based on the exercise of authority and the imposition of sanctions.
- Environmental-Adaptive: In this strategy, the assumption is that people oppose lessened disruption, but they adapt readily to new circumstances. Thus, change is based on building a new organization and gradually transferring people from the old ones to the new ones.
Resistance to organizational change
Some of the specific reasons that cause resistance to change within the organizations may include:-
- Desire for security: Changes scare people, and individuals tend to find security in the way things have been done in the past. This leads to psychological resistance. Giving up the familiar is associated with a certain amount of insecurity with the new idea, i.e., the fear of the unknown, which leads to uncertainty.
- Threatened status: Changes are accompanied by shifting or loss of responsibility and most people are averse to this. The introduction of new technology, new systems, new procedures, and new managers can threaten a person’s status and security and thus cause resistance.
- Selective perception: A person who has a biased interpretation of reality is quit of selective perception, which leads to misunderstanding of the change process. Whenever individuals do not clearly understand the purpose, mechanics, or potential consequences of a change program, they are likely to resist it.
- Awareness of Weaknesses in the proposed change: This is constructive resistance evidenced by some members of the organization who are aware of potential problems in the proposed change. Knowing from experience or from inside information that an idea will not work, these resisters can be valuable to the management. They can help the organization save money, time, and energy.
- Dislike of Imposed change: Employees need to be involved in the change program, and failure to involve them can lead to resistance.
- Lack of conviction: The need for change can also become a ground for resistance to change.
- Employees Dislike: Surprises and if there is no adequate information for readiness to embrace change, they will resist it.
- Group norms: Established rules and procedures, both formal and informal, are powerful forces for resisting change.
- There is always a reluctance to deal with unpopular issues.
- Balance of Power: Any change that threatens the autonomy of a division or department within an organization may be resisted because the group may perceive a decrease in control over its own affairs or an appreciated shared authority and power.
- Personal Inconveniences: Threats to interpersonal relationships and economic reasons will also cause resistance. Fear of inadequacy and failures due to the need for new skills and lack of respect and trust in persons promoting change are also causes of resistance.
Overcoming resistance to change
Some of the ways in which an organization can overcome resistance to change include:-
- Planning: There is a need for prior planning and management of change through total systems orientation. The whole organization and its systems would be required to make adjustments as a change in one area inevitably affects many other places.
- Explain and discuss change before it is implemented: This can enable the management to answer some questions and reduce some fears. If possible, employees should be involved in the planning and implementation of change. This will minimize psychological uncertainty and insecurity.
- Provide valid information: Adequate information based on facts should be provided to the affected parties.
- Implement change gradually: This will enable people to adjust as the process is on course.
- Avoid coercive tactics: Because these increase resentment and tension, employees like to be convinced about change and not coerced.
- Minimize Social Changes: Social relationships are essential to individuals and should not be disrupted by change. Maintain informal relationships as far as possible.