Western Kentucky University
Change is inevitable. A person is likely to experience some type of change nearly everyday, whether it be something minor like having to take a detour to work or major like finding a new job. How we handle these changes is differs from person to person. A lot of research and thought has been put into the belief that most people oppose change and generally would like things to stay the same. But why would everyone be so resistant to change? Since we have to deal with so much change in our daily life anyway, shouldn’t everyone be able to embrace changes? These questions have been addressed and will be reviewed. Also to be discussed is the difficulty of fighting the resistance to change that leaders are forced to do when a leader feels it is necessary. It takes a lot of work to convince a group of people that they all must change. Then strategies that leaders can use to help implement change will be explored. So why are individuals so resistant to change? This issue is frequently debated. Dent and Goldberg believe that people aren’t necessarily resistant to change but more concerned with losing the benefits they already have. Even though the individual may believe that a change would be beneficial they still fear the unknown. That unknown cause many people to be more content with their current circumstances and resist change. Fear is also listed as one of the items on James O’Toole’s list of why people resist change.
O’Toole compiled an extensive list of reasons why individuals are resistance to change. The first reason he lists is that change is not “natural”. Thinking on a biological standpoint that the human body tries desperately to maintain homeostasis. Any minor change can cause things to go drastically wrong. So it is possible that biologically we are programed not to embrace change. Another potential barrier to change that O’Toole lists is Ego. It is hard for anyone to admit that they were wrong and it is even harder for people in power. Good leaders can admit when they have been wrong and implement the necessary change, but often time’s ego stands in the way of this realization. These reasons are examples of individual resistance, but the list has a vast number of reasons why groups of people resist change.
Implementing change for a large group of followers, like a CEO changing a company, can be the most intimidating and difficult task a leader can face. Think about all of the reasons listed above that explain why individuals try to avoid change. Leaders must be able to bring all of those individuals in collectively and get them to change. This is obviously extremely difficult. Groups of people start to form more reasons to resist change. Kurt Lewin was talked about in lecture. His theory was that resistance came system wide not individually.
Groups get familiar with a certain routine that they believe works and never want to do anything different. Their routine becomes the most important thing and it must be protected. Members of the group start to believe that if the entire routine does not go perfectly than they have not accomplished anything. Even if the routine that is in place becomes unproductive it is difficult to change because group members think the routine is more important than the actual work. This phenomenon is also listed on O’Toole’s list as “institutionalism”.
Going back to thinking biologically human nature becomes a factor in the resistance of group change. People are naturally greedy, competitive, and selfish. If some individuals are content with the way things are,