Shells Company has adopted a new management information system (MIS) in its London branch.
Though the MIS promised rich benefits, Shell's employee were quite apprehensive about the new change and resisted this recent move of the company. Can you suggest some measure or techniques for overcoming resistance to change at Shells?
Overcoming resistance to change in an organization has to be a part of the process of deciding on the nature of the change to be introduced and the way it is introduced. The activities of designing and implementing change cannot be separated from the the tasks of overcoming resistance to change.
The resistance to change develops in organizations for many reasons. all these factors creating resistance to change can be grouped under the following three headings.
- The change not being in the interest of the people, the organization, or both.
- People not understanding how the change will affect them personally, and therefor being apprehensive about the change.
- Personal problems and hardships that people may face during the process of implementing the change.
It is easier to reduce and manage resistance of all these three types if people are involved in the process of change right from the initial change of designing the new systems. This helps to ensure that the system is really better than the existing one. In addition, it helps to create understanding of the new system and remove all unfounded apprehensions about it. Involving people affected by the change in design of system also helps in getting their acceptance of the change and the commitment to implement it.
Once the system design has been finalized it is a good policy to let people know what the revised system is and how it affects them. It is desirable that the negative impact of the system are also made clear to the people. If the positive aspect of the change out weigh the negative ones, and when some people placed at disadvantage because of the changes are given a fair deal in terms of some compensation or other opportunities to adjust within the new scheme, it is easier to deal with the negative impact of the change.
Also the implementation of change should be planned and executed with great care to minimize the problems of changeover. Specific attention should be given to mitigating the personal problems faced by individuals due to the change. For example, if the change involves relocation of some of the employees to different location, the company should pay attention to ways of minimising the pain of relocation for the employees.
Also flexibility in implementing change is important. In spite of best of plans, things can go wrong. Therefore company needs to be vigilant to detect any signs of problems and take quick corrective actions. It is important that employees affected by change have a way of being heard by higher in case they face any problems. It may not be possible to find easy solution to every problem, but the very act of listening to problems of people and displaying a genuine concern for them, can help to win their support.
The resistance to change can never be eliminated totally in all situations. However, the approach suggested here will lead to substantial reduction in such resistance. The residual resistance should then be dealt with by showing firm commitment of company to the change initiative undertaken.