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Resistance to change and models to deal with it

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

What is resistance to change?

Resistance to change in organizations refers to the phenomenon where employees, groups or entire organizations resist or oppose proposed changes to their work processes, policies, procedures, systems, or structures. Resistance to change can take many forms, such as active or passive resistance, questioning the need for change, doubting the effectiveness of the proposed changes, fear of the unknown, fear of job loss, fear of failure, etc. It can be a natural response to change, especially if the change is perceived as threatening, disruptive, or poorly communicated.

Effects of resistance to change

Resistance to change can have serious negative consequences for an organization, including delays in implementation, decreased productivity, low morale, conflict, increased turnover, and ultimately, failure to achieve the intended goals of the change initiative. It is important for organizations to anticipate and manage resistance to change through effective communication, involvement of employees, providing training and support, addressing concerns and fears, and emphasizing the benefits of the change. By addressing resistance to change, organizations can increase the likelihood of successful implementation and better outcomes.

Models to deal with change resistance

There are several models that can be used to deal with organizational resistance to change. Here are a few:

  1. Lewin's Change Management Model: This model consists of three stages - unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. Unfreezing involves creating awareness about the need for change and breaking down the existing organizational mindset. Changing involves implementing the change, and refreezing involves reinforcing the change so that it becomes the new normal.

  2. Kotter's 8-Step Change Model: This model consists of eight steps that organizations can follow to successfully implement change. The steps include creating a sense of urgency, forming a powerful coalition, creating a vision for the change, communicating the vision, empowering others to act on the vision, creating short-term wins, consolidating gains and producing more change, and anchoring new approaches in the organization's culture.

  3. Bridges' Transition Model: This model focuses on the emotional and psychological aspects of change. The model consists of three stages - endings, neutral zone, and new beginnings. Endings involve acknowledging what is being lost as a result of the change, the neutral zone is a period of uncertainty and discomfort, and new beginnings involve embracing the change and moving forward.

  4. Prosci's ADKAR Model: This model focuses on individual change and the steps individuals need to take to successfully adopt the change. The model consists of five stages - awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement. Awareness involves understanding the need for change, desire involves creating motivation to change, knowledge involves gaining the skills and understanding necessary to change, ability involves implementing the change, and reinforcement involves sustaining the change over time.

Organizations can use these models or a combination of them to help manage resistance to change and increase the chances of successful implementation.


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