Techniques for Overcoming Resistance to Change and Selection of Appropriate Technique

According to Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) proposed six crucial techniques for overcoming the resistance to change. These are given below:

  1. Widespread Education and Improving Communication

  2. Facilitating Participation and involvement

  3. Support and Facilitation

  4. Agreement & Negotiation

  5. Co-optation & Manipulation

  6. Coercion-Both Explicit and Implicit

  1. Education and Effective Communication: This is one of the commonest techniques for minimizing resistance to change by educating people and promoting awareness through effective communication regarding the benefits of a planned change. By explaining the need for change and the objectives of change, the management can gain the much-needed support from the team members and facilitate its smoother implementation.

    With the help of two-way communication, the employee’s queries and oppositions related to various aspects of change can be quickly addressed and thereby, minimize the objections or hassles which may come across in the path of implementation of change.

    Given below are the important principles which are related to the communication of change and require a lot of attention while implementation a planned change:

    • A large-scale planned change can be effective and yield successful outcomes only if it involves two-way communication efforts. Only top down communication or one-way communication will fail to attract the desired commitment from the staff members.

    • The staff members do have a preference for being communicated about the change on face to face basis from their immediate supervisors.

    • According to Beckhard & Pritchard 1992; Robbins et al. 1998; Ivancevich & Matteson 1996, employees prefer a consultation and involvement in the change.

    Few important things which should be essentially followed while implementing an organization-wide change are:

    • Avoid sending emails or memo for informing the employees regarding a change initiative and expect that the employees will be able to understand and accept it readily.

    • Invite the suggestions and feedback from the staff members, involve them in the process and encourage their participation for effective results.

    • Communicate with people regularly by engaging in face to face interactions with them both individually and in groups and provide them opportunities for discussion.

  2. Facilitating Participation and Involvement: This technique gives a lot of importance to involving the resistors in the change process by setting up a collaborative environment and implementing the change in consultation with the staff. It is a constructive strategy and can be beneficial in minimizing the resistance to change by involving the employees and seeking their participation in the entire process.

  3. Support and Facilitation: Employees fear or resist change due to a number of reasons as a result of which they pose a resistance or oppose any kind of transformation in the existing ways of work or methods. The employees look for complete emotional support and facilitation for being able to cope up with the challenges resulting from the change and should be allowed to express their fear, resentment or anger in connection with the change and the challenges of change.

  4. Agreement & Negotiation: This technique involves negotiating or bargaining with the resistors on various aspects related to the change and making tradeoffs so that the concerns of the resistors and the management are both being given due consideration and importance.

  5. Co-optation & Manipulation: This technique involves getting the support, persuading or influencing the employees in favor of the change. Manipulation involves covert attempts from the managers by withholding painful information, twisting or distortion of the information for making it more appealing for the staff members or spreading false rumors across the organization in order to compel the employees to accept the change manipulatively.

    Alternately, the managers can depend on staff polling strategy and make an attempt towards persuading the resistors to join the rest of the group. The management may even co-opt an individual and assign certain important responsibilities in connection with the implementation of change.

  6. Coercion: Implicit and Explicit: Coercion involves exercising force or threat for making the change accepted and followed by the employees. This strategy emphasizes more on the use of fear by way of direct or indirect threats and involves harassment, bullying or compels the employees to act in accordance with the expected ways or else resign. This strategy is illegal, ineffective and in the long-run, will result in mass resentment, dissatisfaction, high rate of absenteeism, low productivity and ultimately high employee turnover.

Selecting the Right Technique and the Relative Benefits of Each Technique

  1. Education and Effective Communication: This technique is useful when there is an absence of availability of ample information with the employees, or they have inaccurate or partial information on various aspects of change. Once the employees are convinced about the change, then they will help in the successful implementation of change as change partners.

  2. Facilitating Participation and Involvement: This technique can be useful when the initiators lack substantial information for designing and implementing the change, or the employees have tremendous power to resist the change. The involvement of the employees can increase their commitment level and motivation for supporting the change initiatives, reduce resistance and improve the quality of the decision in connection with the change.

  3. Support and Facilitation: This technique is useful when there is resistance towards change from the people due to certain adjustment or adaptability issues. This is the best technique as it involves employee facilitation, training & various supportive efforts for reducing the resistance. However, this technique is very time consuming, expensive and does not necessarily assure a successful outcome.

  4. Agreement & Negotiation: This technique is effective when it involves exchanging something valuable for reducing the resistance towards the change. This is one of the most convenient techniques for avoiding any kind of major resistance.

  5. Co-optation & Manipulation: This technique can be adopted only when the other techniques fail to provide the desired results or are too expensive. This technique can be relatively inexpensive and quick in terms of results.

  6. Coercion (Explicit & Implicit): This technique should be avoided till the end and can be used only as the last possible resort.


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Change Management