It’s never easy to change from a way that used to be proved efficiency and valid to a brand new way to do things. Not only shall the employees resist the changes, but also the organizations. In fact, the main reason why an organization refuses to change is because of its employees. However, due to the changes those are brought by rapid globalization nowadays, the change must be accepted and performed by all organizations and the employees within in order to survive by adapting to the external business environment.
According to Mullins (2013), change is a simple fact of life and some people active thrive on change, while others don’t. Why employees resist change in workplace? In fact, it is normal people resist change because most people prefer predictability and stability in their lives. Thus, people typically avoid situations that upset the order of things, threaten their self-interest, increase stress, or involve risks. In this case, people usually resist initially when faced with changes. Besides, the major reason why employees resist change at work is because of bad management of change (Adenle 2011). It is extremely important for managers to know that there is a lot can be done to let the employees accept change instead of believing there is little management can do about it as Mullins stated. For example, a change management skill is needed for managers in this case to minimize the impact and maximize the efficiency when performing changes.
The Kurt Lewin’s change theory model is a three steps process that provides a high-level approach to change. The model gives a manager or other change agent a framework to implement changes, which can also help a leader to make a radical change, minimize the disruption of the structure’s operations, and make sure the changes are adopted permanently (Morrison 2014).
Kurt Lewin’s 3 phase process:
Unfreeze – Ready to change: Even though the old habits and routines to finish a task is no longer efficiency and valid in an organization, and yet which are still being performed by force of habit, without anyone questioning their legitimacy. This stage requires employees to unlearn their old habits and keep an open mind to new ways of accomplishing the tasks.
Change – Implementation: This stage is for managers implement the changes after employees have opened their minds. All employees in this case must accomplish the tasks in completely different ways. Besides, this stage will give managers opportunities to update the changing strategy due to there is no doubt many problems will start to appear and a certain chaos might ensue, however, this is the price to pay in order to achieve deeper effectiveness.
Freeze/Refreeze – Making it stick: Once the changes have been made, every effort must be made to guarantee the changing becomes the new standard in order to reach its full effect. It will take time for employees to adapt to the changing and make which to be their new habits.
Even though Lewin’s model has been proved and developed since 1950s and which is the most famous model of change, however, many HR authors and practitioners argue that the final stage of the model is lacking of flexibility due to modern business world is changing at pace which gives no time to settle and consequently to refreeze after a change process has been implemented (Longo 2011).
Shell encountered an oil reserves crisis that hammered its share price in 2014. The group chairman Jeroen Van der Veer believed that the corporation must transform its structure in order to survive. The plan was identified and shall impact more than 80 Shell operating units. Many operating units resist executing the plan and stood to lose market share at first. The change team led by Van der Veer was made up of senior leaders, in-house subject matter experts, implementation consultants and external change expert; they briefed the people who would be impacted by the change, moreover, discussed and mitigated the risk and potential problem areas before any real change was delivered (Arnold 2015). The change program turns out to be a great victory and Shell is in a much healthier position than before.
There is no doubt managers are playing significant roles in avoiding and overcoming resistance during change process. A manager with necessary traits could make the whole process much easier and minimize the damage overall.
Here are some recommendations:
- Before come up with a change plan, it is necessary for the manager to gain all required knowledge on such subject since the change process is a tricky one and must be cautious.
- Before actual executing the plan, a manager must brief the people who will be impacted and gain as much feedbacks as possible. In this case, modify the plan if necessary. A good communication skill is required in this phase.
- Keep updating the plan during the execution period based on practical situations and minimize the damage.
- Make sure the changes become the new standard for everyone to follow.
- Catherine Adenle (26th July 2011), “12 Reasons Why Employees Resist Change in the Workplace”, [Online] available from <http://catherinescareercorner.com/2011/07/26/12-reasons-why-employees-resist-change-in-the-workplace/> [31st Oct 2017]
- Mike Morrison (7th July 2014), “Kurt Lewin change theory three step model- unfreeze, change, freeze”, [Online] available from <https://rapidbi.com/kurt-lewin-three-step-change-theory/> [31st Oct 2017]
- Rosario Longo (22nd May 2011), “Is Lewin’s change management model still valid?”,
[Online] available from <http://rosariolongo.blogspot.my/2011/05/is-lewins-change-management-model-still.html> [31st Oct 2017]
- Paul Arnold (20th July 2015), “the 5 Greatest Examples of Change Management in Business History”, [Online] available from <http://www.managers.org.uk/insights/news/2015/july/the-5-greatest-examples-of-change-management-in-business-history> [31st Oct 2017]