AC 3.2 Examine ways that organizations address resistance to change and recognize the levers that will achieve and sustain change
Examine the main causes of resistance to change amongst employees and how people professionals can address this resistance. Illustrate your answer with examples.
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Pointers for students:
Draw on the academic research literature in defining ‘resistance to change’. How has it been defined and measured?
What is the quality of the research evidence that aims to identify the main causes of resistance to change among employees? Ensure you demonstrate your critical appraisal of the evidence you cite.
What theories do researchers propose to explain this resistance to change? Incorporate models within the discussion, but to not rely on description – there needs to be application (and examples) together with evidence – research should be current and robust. Some of the main causes in the academic literature include:
Fear of the unknown: Change often introduces uncertainty and unfamiliarity, leading to Reed Company Confidential resistance as employees feel anxious about potential negative outcomes or impacts on their roles and job security.
Loss of control: Employees may resist change when they perceive it as taking away their autonomy or control over their work processes, decision-making, or job responsibilities.
Disruption of routines and habits: Change disrupts established routines and ways of doing things, which can create resistance as employees are comfortable with familiar processes and may be resistant to adopting new ways of working.
Lack of understanding or awareness: Insufficient communication and poor understanding of the reasons, benefits, and implications of change can lead to resistance. Employees may resist change if they do not see the rationale or perceive it as unnecessary.
Past negative experiences: Previous unsuccessful change initiatives or negative experiences with organisational change can foster resistance and scepticism among employees who have developed a mistrust or fear of change.
Suggest you consider some of the impact from resistance, e.g., apathy, cynicism, etc., possibly leading to disengagement, demotivation or even commitment… which in turn impacts retention, etc.
Also consider the ways in which people professions might address resistance to change such as:
Employee involvement and participation
Building trust and support
Celebrating and rewarding success – with reward that is appropriate
Emotionally intelligent leadership
Clarity – strategic objectives and planning
What evidence is there in the research literature and in organisational case studies that demonstrate the efficacy (or otherwise) of these interventions? Can you provide any examples from your own organisation (or potentially best practice)?
Read Chapter 11: Managing Change. Taylor, S. and Perkins, G. (2021) Work and
Employment in Changing Business Environment
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