Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


About Team Role Theory

History & Research

Reliability & Validity

Dr. Meredith Belbin

Behavior vs. Personality



Strategies For Overcoming Opposition To Organizational Change

It is human nature to reject what we picture as different. Change demands that we work to learn a new set of rules, when the older rules may have accommodated us just fine. In reality, neither our personal nor professional lives will always be coordinated with what we perceive to be comfortable. In other words, we are not the center of universe and the world does not rotate around our comfort levels. Circumstances outside of our control will take place that pressure us to adapt to new policies, new systems, and new sets of laws. In the very best positions our involvement will be valued and our impressions will be wanted giving us the opportunity to produce the means that justify the end.

Individuals evidence their commitment to change through their deeds and actions. Strong managers solicit staff participation to form buy-in and to make sure that the affects of the proposed modifications are vetted to avoid system breakdowns. Non-management employees can show their buy-in by preparing themselves about the process, seeking ways to build consensus, giving and receiving feedback, and conveying their concerns to peers and management constructively.

Many theories attempt to explain why employees resist change even when it is obvious that change is needed for an organization's endurance. Resistance to change can be averted via: Commitment: From the CEO to the janitor, each employee must be committed to the change project. That commitment starts at the top; hence the organization's leadership must be especially attuned to successful execution. One naysayer on the leadership team can destroy the entire process.

A change mandate: Change can not be a choice. With gentle respect it must be made clear that change is not an option, it is a requisite. Input: Anyone who will be affected by the impending changes must be given the opportunity to voice his or her opinion in a respectful and collegial setting.

Accountability: Every person affected by the change program must be held responsible for accomplishing his or her individual change activity. Not fulfilling that responsibility must carry consequences.

Rewards and celebration: Successful implementation should be recognized via compensation and/or acknowledgement. The organization as a whole should mark the successful implementation of the change program as well.

Evaluation: Examining the success of the implementation at predetermined intervals is a strategic decision planned to gauge success over time and make corrections for unexpected consequences.

Overlooking any one of the points above reduces the prospect of successfully implementing a change program.

When change happens, the relationship ("personal compact") between employers and employees suffer. This "personal compact" has three prongs - formal, social, and psychological.

The formal compact: Captures fundamental jobs and performance essentials as defined by company documents such as job descriptions, employment contracts, and performance understandings.

The psychological compact: Integrates feelings such as confidence and dependence between employee and employer, which is the foundation of an employee's individual commitment to personal and company objectives.

The social compact: Includes employees' perceptual experiences about the culture of the organization and their chances for success.

Change destabilizes the foundation upon which the employer/employee relationship ("personal compact") is established. It is this awkward change in organizational dynamics (social, formal and psychological) that drives resistance to change, not just the launch of new ideas or different means of conducting business.

Once the change program is declared, some employees will employ tactics to protect themselves, their turf, and ultimately their spot in the organization.

Argumentative: Some employees will aggressively dispute the requisite for change. This is a time waster, which prevents important objectives from being met. Every individual who facilitates the change process must work diligently to build consensus. The employee must be reassured that every idea is worthy of consideration. Should an exchange devolve into broad declarations such as, "I just don't like it", "This will never work", or "This is a waste of time" the speaker must be challenged. Simply ask the speaker to explain why he or she feels the way they do and call for for three or four suggestions for making the procedure work.

Avoidance: Some directors and members of the leadership team will avoid change by subtlety refusing to commit to the process. Often these leaders will sabotage the change effort by being inaccessible for meetings, refusing resources, or withholding feedback. "The leadership" is a particularly problematical foe, because change efforts often call for the use of resources handled by the leadership, such as time and money. Without these resources change efforts are likely to fail. Accountability with consequences is the primary means for assuring leadership participation.

Distraction: Many employees and organizational leaders search for personal or professional diversions during the change process that will ultimately hamper the campaign. An oblivious individual can undermine the change effort by not being present physically or mentally when his or her vital input is needed. Not being mindful of change creates an unnecessarily troublesome experience for each member of the team. Such negligence calls to mind the wasted energy used when one runs against the wind. Change efforts provide an opportunity for every one involved to secure a new spot in the organization or make a determination to look for a better fit elsewhere.

Everyone who will be affected by the change process must take part in its carrying out, which starts with soliciting ideas and comment in the earliest planning phases.

Once identified, there are several strategies that can be employed to defeat resistance to change within the organization. In order to preserve stability, all individuals must be treated with respect as they may have valuable knowledge to contribute and doing anything less may create even more opposition. At all points of the change process, it is best to look for areas for agreement. Later these commonalities can be leveraged to encourage the opposition to join the team. It is likewise important to recognize and fully realize the nature of the resistance. This feedback will shape the foundation for strategies to deal with that resistance. When the majority of the organization is on board it is certainly worthwhile to hear and address the concerns of a few holdouts, which perpetuates the goal of maximum buy-in. Finally, resistance can be overcome by making sure that the change effort is communicated effectively in a multi-dimensional format. Adult learning theory supports the need to distribute messages that are seen, heard, and felt. By seeking consensus, acknowledging feedback, and communicating effectively, organizations can meet opposition successfully. Nevertheless, there will be individuals who cannot function in a changed system. These men and women will invariably feel that the relationship ("personal compact") with the employer has been broken.