Change management: Re-framing Resistance to Change

Resistance to change does not only occur below the management level, it exists among all stakeholders. Often framed as a form of dissent, change management research is starting to demonstrate a more positive side to this reaction and offers a more constructive posture for management to take. Anything that interferes with job security, the intrinsic rewards of one’s employment (autonomy, flexibility), or personal power or prestige is almost certain to elicit strong emotional or cognitive reactions (Erwin & Garman, 2010). Resistance can create greater awareness of planned changes and increase the depth of discussion about upcoming strategies. Employees have a wealth of operational knowledge and, therefore, organizational risks beyond that of senior leaders (Ford & Ford, 2009).

Reframing resistance as a constructive opportunity to improve your project plans through engaging discussions with employees provides you with the opportunity to increase your chances of implementation success, and deepen relationships with your teams.

It’s worth considering how you react to these comments from employees.

Change management: Fair process

Few concepts in change management are as important as the perception of fair process; it’s an essential element. Fair process refers to the decision-making process that management uses when introducing organizational change that has an impact on individuals. The theory suggests that “fair process profoundly influences attitudes and behaviors critical to high performance. It builds trust and unlocks ideas” (Kim & Mauborgne, 2003, p. 128). Three principles comprise fair process: (a) engagement, (b) explanation, and (c) expectation clarity. As your organization goes about proposing and implementing transformational ideas, these concepts will be essential to engendering engagement across all stakeholder groups. As Kim and Mauborgne (2003) stated, “To achieve fair process, it matters less what the rules are and more that they are clearly understood” (p. 132).