What is Resistance Management?

resistance management

In the context of business and human resources, the term “resistance management” refers to the shaping of employee attitudes towards the introduction of change in an organization. The goal of this type of management is to facilitate with minimal friction the adoption of new:

  • processes
  • technology
  • workplace culture

Workers in almost any type of business tend to resistance change, especially when they feel it is forced upon them. Managing resistance to change on an institutional level is one of the many issues industrial-organizational psychologists face.

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Common Applications in Business Management

All businesses have to grow and adapt to changing circumstances. Many companies undergo operational and culture shifts following an acquisition or merger with another organization. Even the introduction of a new executive team with fresh ideas can result in big changes at all levels of the organization. Resistance management techniques are also valuable for smaller changes, like switching to a more updated computer system or changing the layout of the office space. Any policy that alters the established routine is likely to encounter at least some resistance from the workforce.

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Understanding Employee Opposition to Change

Change usually presents new challenges and can be uncomfortable at first. This is why natural resistance is expected following most organizational changes. However, business leaders and industrial-organizational psychologists need to understand the source of resistance before they can adequately address it. In larger companies, individuals and teams with inter-dependencies often struggle in the face of change due to the sheer scope and logistical difficulties involved. This is according to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Many workers resist change simply because they don’t understand its purpose or feel as if they have no voice in the matter.

Impact on Organizational Operations

It’s easy to dismiss a widespread reluctance to change as something that is inevitable and will improve with time. However, this attitude can be costly and potentially hazardous for businesses. Resistance by employees can take many forms, including:

  • a loss of productivity
  • high turnover rates
  • a general loss of social cohesion in the workplace

If left unaddressed, a hostile or apathetic attitude from employees can be very toxic to the organization’s long-term health.

Developing Strategies to Manage Resistance

Creating effective ways to introduce change to a workplace is one of the many concepts covered in modern industrial-organizational psychology. Management strategies are usually designed to fit each organization according to its size and needs, although the basic concepts can fit almost any situation. Leaders in the organization are advised to communicate frequently with employees during periods of change and provide opportunities for them to express their thoughts on the matter. Some companies promote or hire change managers to further facilitate the process.

Modern business management and practices encourage the rapid and frequent implementation of change on an organizational level. This means that businesses need to cultivate a receptive, adaptive workforce that can respond to changes with minimal friction. Resistance management is an essential concept in industrial-organizational psychology. It can provide immense value during challenging or crucial periods of development.

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