Are Leaders Prepared for change?

“Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change. It is all down to the personality of the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to Change” (Mullins 2013: 718).

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                                                                             Source: Rykrsmith (2013)

Being at the forefront of management change requires a process of constant direction adjustment and refinement, where management updates its structure, strategy and seeks new opportunities on an ongoing basis (Aigurre and Alpem 2014). All these changes are driven by the ever-changing demands of the clients, evolving market conditions and business environment. In the modern business environment the pace of change is faster than ever and it is increasingly important to manage this wisely and strategically (Aigurre and Alpem 2014). The risk of failure is greater than before. However, if organisations do not change and continually evolve within their business environments to remain competitive, they will fail automatically.

Mullins (2013: 718) makes a point that is still very vital today: change is a “fact of life” when challenges and resistance appear. On one hand, I agree with the author because it is natural to adapt when facing new structures and obstacles. On the other, it is questionable whether people keen on routine and fixed processes will be so open to adapting naturally when faced with challenges (Berube 2014).  Usually changes affect employees and other stakeholders. Kottler (2011) in his short video about resistance to change recommends to get rid of “constant no” people or “keep them out of the process” when nothing helps to change their “no-no” attitude.

Source: Kottler (2011)

Quast (2012) identified five main causes of resistance in the organisation towards change:

  1. Fear of Unknown. People get used to certain patterns of behaviour and ways of thinking. Any changes require a willingness to abandon the old and familiar and to step into the new and unknown (Quast 2012).
  2. Mistrust. It appears when the manager is quite new and employees are unaware of what to expect from him/her and, conversely, when trust between staff and the manager is strong, changes will be accepted more easily within the organisation (Quast2012).
  3. Loss of control and security. This is usually connected to the fear of losing jobs within an organisation or moving to another position where the employee has little or no experience (Mullins 2013: 717).
  4. Bad timing. Changes have to be implemented “at the right time and level of tact” (Quast 2012), otherwise, resistance will be even stronger.
  5. Predisposition towards change. As Mullins (2013) said some people don’t’ like to change their routine and these employees resist the most.

Today leaders are working hard to maintain the level of competitiveness and take care of stability, so that employees feel secure (Ajmal, Farooq, Sajid and Awan 2013). At the same time, managers implement all the necessary changes to adapt to external changes (Rosci 2014). Therefore, the role of managers in helping employees to overcome resistance of change is crucial.

The job of every manager in any organisation is to get employees to bring their goals and skills together to meet the requirements that impose new working conditions (Rosci 2014). Leaders help to create an environment for change, encourage team members to cooperate and communicate the importance of the constant changes within the organisation that are needed to maintain competitiveness (Ajmal, Farooq, Sajid and Awan 2013).

There are three step to change: (1) identify a need for change – three areas of focus: current customers (what should be improved to satisfy existing customers?), potential customers (what organisation should do to attract new clients?) and corporate culture (what should be changed within organisation to increase profitability and workforce?); (2) to lead change – this is possible only in an environment that gives a sense of security and trust; (3) to manage change where control over specific areas is required such as vision projection, maintaining level of responsibility for changes, accountability of changes to reach certain objectives; and authority to make sure that the job is done (Myatt 2012).

Today leaders are working hard to maintain the level of competitiveness and take care of stability, so that employees feel secure (Ajmal, Farooq, Sajid and Awan 2013). At the same time, managers implement all the necessary changes to adapt to external changes (Rosci 2014). Therefore, the role of managers in helping employees to overcome resistance of change is crucial.

The job of every manager in any organisation is to get employees to bring their goals and skills together to meet the requirements that impose new working conditions (Rosci 2014). Leaders help to create an environment for change, encourage team members to cooperate and communicate the importance of the constant changes within the organisation that are needed to maintain competitiveness (Ajmal, Farooq, Sajid and Awan 2013).

There are three step to change: (1) identify a need for change – three areas of focus: current customers (what should be improved to satisfy existing customers?), potential customers (what organisation should do to attract new clients?) and corporate culture (what should be changed within organisation to increase profitability and workforce?); (2) to lead change – this is possible only in an environment that gives a sense of security and trust; (3) to manage change where control over specific areas is required such as vision projection, maintaining level of responsibility for changes, accountability of changes to reach certain objectives; and authority to make sure that the job is done (Myatt 2012).

planned-change-and-od (1)

Source: French et al (1985)

Valery Norton, vice president of talent management & acquisition for Broadridge Financial Solutions, advise managers to continue communication on all levels of the organisation, address problems as soon as they occur and make senior people accountable for change as well (Norton 2015). Every level of the organisation has to be involved with the change (Norton 2015).

Source: Norton (2015)

Even though change brings insecurity and instability to the organisation, at the same time it stimulates innovations, uncovers new opportunities and adds value through reinforcement of old beliefs (Change Management Coach 2014).

One of the visible examples of an industry resistant to change is the oil & gas sector. For this sector change is a long and painful process because it is harder “to introduce new services or products” (LaCour 2014) and get customers to buy it. Nevertheless, companies find ways to overcome resistance through proposition of solutions to customer’s problems, investments in new resources and training people to push sales up (LaCour 2014).

Finally, all organisations have to be prepared for change to ensure long-term growth and stability. Managers should also clearly define the goals and objectives, as well as skills, personal and professional qualities that are needed to ensure that every employee could successfully move to a new level. Effective control during changes is crucial in achieving positive outcomes as well as careful introduction of new structure to employees in order to reduce their resistance to change.

List of References:

Aigurre, D. and Alpem, M. (2014) Ten principles of leading change management [online] available from <http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00255?gko=9d35b>  [12 June 2015]

Ajmal, S., Farooq, Z., Sajid, N. and Awan, S. (2013) Role of Leadership in Change Management Process [online] available from <http://aupc.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/V5I2-8.pdf> [12 June 2015]

Bailey, E. (2013) How to handle resistance to change [online] available from <http://www.elainebaileyinternational.com/wordpress/tag/handling-resistance-to-change/> [13 June 2015]

Berube, D. (2014) Are your employees resist to change? [online] available from <http://www.lce.com/Are_Your_Employees_Resisting_Change_It_May_Be_a_Good_Thing_492-item.html>  [12 June 2015]

Change Management Coach (2014) Frustrated by resistance to change? [online] available from <http://www.change-management-coach.com/resistance-to-change.html>  [12 June 2015]

Kottler,J. (2011) Resistance to change [online] available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdroj6F3VlQ>  [12 June 2015]

LaCour, M. (2014) How to get around resistance to change [online] <http://modalpoint.com/get-around-resistance-change/>  [12 June 2015]

Mullins, L.J. (2013) Management and Organisational Behaviour. 10th edn. The United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited, 717-718

Myatt, M. (2012) How to lead change: three simple steps [online] available from <http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/02/07/how-to-lead-change-3-simple-steps/> [12 June 2015]

Norton, V. (2015) What are the best ways to overcome resistance to change? [online] available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtUVgxsy0f8> [12 June 2015]

Rosci (2014) Roles in change management [online] available from <http://www.change-management.com/tutorial-job-roles-mod2.htm> [12 June 2014]

Rykrsmith, E. (2013) Change management versus change leadership [online] available from <http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/2013/07/12/change-management-versus-change-leadership/>  [13 June 2015]

Quast, L. (2012) Overcome the five main reasons people resist change [online] available from <http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/11/26/overcome-the-5-main-reasons-people-resist-change/> [12 June 2015]

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2 thoughts on “Are Leaders Prepared for change?

  1. The old maxim by philosopher Heraclitus that change is the only constant is still very relevant today.It is equally natural to avoid changes that we perceive will not serve our interest. Therefore, managers and Leaders must communicate change clearly stating what is it that is changing and why.

    Resistance to change can also be used as a feedback mechanism, rather than seeing it only as an obstacle in the change process.

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