In the process of change there are four main phases that should be looked at. At the beginning there is a force that makes us aware of the need to change. This could range from intrapersonal conflict, which manifests itself as a feeling of dissatisfaction with the present status quo, through to the need to change the way work is organised, initiated by a change in legislation.
In the second stage of change, people start to look into the factors that inspire the need for change. They need to analyse the situation, but also the desired outcome of change, people and areas the change will effect, as well as the process of implementation of the change.
Then it comes to the process of change itself. In this third part, people need to understand as much as possible about both the benefits and challenges, in order not to stubbornly resist the change. In order to succeed in a change, it should be carried out thoroughly and persistently.
In the last stage, the new situation should be evaluated and the impact of change should be assessed.
Because the external factors that inspire change - such as globalisation, legislative or technological change - are usually obvious to people within organisations, the need for change is usually more evident. On the other hand, internal factors that should point to the need for change are usually more difficult to get into the minds of people. Events such as strikes or the change of a key decision maker tend to stimulate rapid change.
Many companies do not regularly scan employees' attitudes and do not know their needs. This "negligence" can then result in a situation where for example a training programme, or a compensation and benefits model do not motivate the way they were meant to, because they address different needs of employees. The need for change is then evident only after dissatisfaction.
Change is, however, difficult to manage because people often resist it. The resistance is often based on negative emotions such as fear of the unknown, fear of failure, interpersonal and intergroup conflicts, negative organisational politics, and fear of disrupting interpersonal relationships. This can be explained by the fact that change is often associated with lay-offs and restructuring.
In such situations it is difficult to persuade employees to be cooperative and supportive of the change when the change can potentially have a negative impact on them.
On the other hand, resistance to change can be viewed as a positive phenomenon, as it is a sign of communication. It is a signal from employees that for whatever reason they do not favour the change. They may be reluctant to accept the change because they are afraid of the consequences the change may have on them, they may resist it because they are not well informed and they misunderstand the whole concept, but they may also usefully point to the weakness of the proposed new system and notice the facts that can threaten the success of the change.
Stanislava Luptáková is a lecturer at Comenius University's Faculty of Management. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. Dec 2000 at 0:00 | Stanislava Luptáková