Change is a necessary way of life. It is all around people: in the seasons, in their social environment, and in their own biological processes .Beginning with the first few moments of life, a person learns to meet change by being adaptive. A person’s very first breath depends on ability to adapt from one environment to another. As indicated by the first quotation introducing this essay, each hour is different, offering people new experiences.
Since human beings are adaptive and familiar with change, how is it that they often resist change in their work environment? This question had troubled managers since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and the fast peace of change required by the electronic age has made its solution more important. Even when managers use their most logical arguments to support a change, they frequently discover that workers are unconvinced of the need for it.
The nature of work change
The term “work change” refers to any alteration that occurs in the work environment. Its effect is illustrated in an elementary way by an experiment using air filled balloon. When a finger (which represents change) is pressed against the exterior of the balloon (which represent the organization), the contour of the balloon visibly changes at the point contact. Here an obvious pressure, representing change has produced an obvious deviation at the point of pressure. What isn’t obvious, however, is that the entire balloon has been affected and has stretched slightly. As shown by this comparison, the generalization is drawn that the whole organization tends to be affected by change in any part of it.
The molecules of air in the balloon represent a firm’s employees. It is apparent that those at the spot of pressure must make drastic adjustments.
Though the change did not make direct contact with the employees, it has affected them indirectly. Though none is fired (i.e., leaves the balloon), the employees are displaced and must adjust to a new location in the balloon. This comparison illustrates an additional generalization: change is a human as well as a technical problem.
Admittedly, the foregoing comparison is rough. A employing is not a balloon; a person is not a molecule; and people are not as free and flexible as ai...
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Unfreezing means that old ideas and practices need to be cast aside so that new ones can be learned. Often this step of getting rid of old practices is about as difficult as learning the new ones. Changing is the step in which the new ideas and practices are learned so that an employee can think and perform in new ways. Refreezing means that what has been learned is integrated into actual practice.
Resistance to change can be reduced by helping employees recognize the need for each change, participate in it, and gain from it. In summary, five management guidelines for responsible change are:
a. Make only necessary and useful change. Avoid unnecessary change
b. Change by evolution, not revolution
c. Recognize the possible effects of change, and introduce in with adequate attention to human needs
d. Share the benefits of change with employees
e. Diagnose the problems remaining after a change occurs, and treat them
Change when improperly handled manifests itself in slowdowns and showdowns.
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