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How Change Effects the Workplace

In: Business and Management

Submitted By harmonee23
Words 1804
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“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human situation which rejects progress is the cemetery” (Wilson, 1967). Change is routine in any business environment. Ironically, the only constant in the modern workplace is change and it sometimes happens quickly. Regardless of how challenging change can be, it is better to embrace it rather than foolishly trying to avoid it or stop it. In the workplace change is often non-negotiable. An employee generally has little to no control when the company is going in new directions.. However, how one chooses to react to it is personal. While change in the workplace is usually intended to be positive for business, understanding the factors that are relevant to an employee’s resistance to the change is significant and can help combat the challenges with the transition.
Change is inevitable and usually necessary. In today’s workplace, businesses are forced to implement changes in an effort to expand and even to survive. Naturally, change introduces new challenges and demands or responsibilities for everyone affiliated. Having a certain level of patience can make the transition more tolerable. Take nature for an example. Picture the life cycle of a butterfly. Although the progress appears slow and drawn out, at metamorphosis is indeed occurring in the caterpillar. For a long while, nothing seems to be progressing, then suddenly the beautiful butterfly emerges, or blooms blossom and eggs hatch. Because most people are creatures of habit and follow their daily routines mindlessly, they tend to have a low tolerance for change. Once change occurs, it is disruptive. For most people it is a difficult path to transverse, particularly in the workplace where challenges can suddenly alter one’s career path and lifestyle. With the hope of better opportunities many people are driven by the hope that better things are on the horizon. Although change can open doors to new opportunities, the unknown effects cause most people to become resistant or hesitant to embrace change. As a result, morale is down and stress increases. Employees eventually experience internal and external changes in their job beyond their control.
The fear of restructuring including relocation or job loss are intimidating to employees. Because they have little control over the events that occur, there is an increased level of fear, tension, anxiety, anger and other stress related to the job. Eventually, everyone experiences change in the workplace and have to find immediate mechanisms to cope. When an individual feels helpless or unfamiliar with their new reality, they can become stressed and their ability to perform becomes impaired. In a changing environment, it is the responsibility of management and leaders to make the transition as smooth and as positive as possible. Effectively managing a changing environment involves empowering employees with the needed skills to adapt to the changes. Strategic preparation encourages better organizational performance, regardless of the nature of the changes. According to our text, “Employees resist change for a variety of more or less logical reasons. Among the more common rationales are the following: (a) self interest, (b) lack of understanding, (c) lack of trust in management, (d) differing assessments of the need for change, and (e) a low tolerance for change (Baack, 2012). To aid in reducing the the internal factors that sometimes results in stress, and individual must learn strategies and methods of coping that will allow discipline and self-control. This can help the individual perform their job more effectively.
Examples of external factors that influences an individual’s resistance to change can be a pay raise or a job promotion. Generally, hard work and consistent dedication are rewarded by an increase in salary or an elevated position within the organization. Internally, the employee may be ecstatic and eager to benefit from the promotion and the increase in salary can have for them. However, resistance can occur as a result of not having a clear understanding of the new expectations and responsibilities associated with the position. Such changes and responsibilities may include longer hours and frequent travel. Usually, the employee will welcome the change for reasons relating to their self-interest. The promotion will probably give them a new level of power, income, prestige and other conveniences.
An individual’s attitude regarding change is key to how successful the transition will be. When uncertainty is present, employees feel anxious and disoriented with the interruption to their daily routines. William Bridges (2004) explains that the process of change involves three stages (1) an ending, (2) a period of distress and confusion and (3) a new beginning for those capable enough to embrace it (Bridges, 2004). In reality, every transition begins with an ending to an existing process or method. Accepting the new process, regardless of having an understanding of it, is the first step to accepting change. Kotter developed the following to help individuals embrace change:
1. Establish a sense of urgency and a compelling reason to make the change
2. Form a power coalition to lead the change
3. Create a new vision with supporting strategies
4. Communicate the vision to all involved
5. Empower others to act on the vision which includes the encouragement of risk taking and creativity
6. Plan for a reward short-term “victories” that move toward the new vision
7. Consolidate improvements, reassess the changes and make the necessary adjustments
8. Reinforce change by showing the relationship to organization success (Baack, 2012).
Additionally, management and leaders can respond to their employees’ resistance to change by effective communication, educating on the significance of the change, facilitation and support.
When employees are unwilling or unable to adapt to changes, the organization can suffer substantially. Unwelcomed change can have an impact on physical and mental health, well-being and motivation. As a result, productivity and performance levels are affected, thus the organization suffers.
At my job in advertising sales, there has been a recent change to way in which our sales team is expected to approach a customer when soliciting advertisement. Until now, the company showed little to no concern for the verbiage used when approaching customers by phone. All of a sudden, upper management decided to change the method in which the sales team persuaded customers to buy our products. First, they implemented a “call flow script” that is mandatory to follow, especially when soliciting new business. There were both internal and external factors that caused stress and anxiety concerning the change. The internal factors were related to self-interest and a lack of understanding. Many sales representatives reported that they had a method of approaching the customer that was effective and allowed them to produce above expectations. They were uneasy about having to use this new script and to figure out a unique way to relate to their customers at the same time. Further, they were concerned with how the sudden change would aggravate their potential to perform well, their job security and the likelihood of making commissions and bonuses. The external factors were related to a lack of trust in management. Some of them believed that the change was a ploy to disrupt their productivity and success which would affect the amount of money the company paid beyond salary and wages.
Regardless of the apprehension experienced among the team, the changes are official and are in full effect. However, management did listen to their concerns and took the time to address their disorientation. At the weekly sales meeting, the Vice President of Operations (VP) acknowledged the change and the anxiety surrounding it. He began by explaining the direction the company was going and why it was imperative that the script be used. For example, he explained the new mandate to say “this call is being recorded for quality purposes” was a result of several lawsuits that we are currently fighting. Some customers are suing claiming they were not aware that they were being recorded, and research found that the representative did not advise of the recording.
In an effort to thoroughly communicate the vision of the company regarding the changes, a video from the company’s president was shown to help answer questions and give perspective. Finally, he spent time reinforcing how the change affects the success of the individual as well as the organization. He had one of the top performers speak and encourage the team that with the new script it has actually increased his ability to generate new business because the script ushers him to ask pertinent questions that he was not answering before. After the meeting, there was far less stress or murmuring concerning the change. Many of the reps decided to embrace the change and figure out ways to make it work for the better. Weeks later at our sales meetings, reps reported that the change has helped them to generate new business, and that it is no longer an issue but the way they approach the customer.
I believe the VP’s efforts to address the changes were sufficient. However, I think another way to have approached the issue would have been to develop a plan that included an analysis identifying the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T.). A previous employer of mine introduced me to the S.W.O.T .strategy years ago. Sue Stockdale and Clive Steeper explained that the S.W.O.T. strategy encourages ideas that minimize areas of weakness and limits threats; keeping focused on maximising strengths and opportunities (Stockdale & Steeper, 2012). For an employee, the first step in reducing the amount of stress related to change is to understand that change will be continual and will confront in waves. Because there is usually little to be done to avoid change, it is important to understand how to adapt and cope. In our training class at work , our trainer explained the importance of being F.A.T. in our positions. Being Flexible, Adaptable & Teachable. will help us avoid the unnecessary stresses of how the constant changes will affect our attitudes and productivity. The future is uncertain and the working environment will be constantly changing. Having a solid plan to embracing and adapting to change is the key to making smoother transitions. Today, the fluctuations in the economy forces one to accept that the only thing constant is change. While change it the workplace is usually intended to be positive for business, understanding the factors that are relevant to an employee’s resistance to change is significant and can help combat the challenges with the transaction.

Baack, D. (2012), Organization behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Bridges, W. (2004). Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes (2nd ed.). Cambridge,
MA: Da Capo Press
Stockdale, S., & Steeper, C. (2012). Cope with change at work. Reading, Berkshire UK:
Teach Yourself.
Wilson, Harold. Speech to the Consultative Assembly of the COuncil of Europe,
Strasbourg, France, January 23, 1967.…...

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