Suppose you want to change an organization's culture.  What sort of resistance would an employers expect from employees

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think changing an organization's culture is the most important decision facing leadership in organizational culture.  One of the most common examples of resistance would be a resentment towards changing embedded cultural elements.  If an organization has become accustomed to "the way things are done," there will be some resistance in bringing in new elements and seeking to make change.  Employees might offer resistance in a variety of areas.  One particular perception that would bring about resentment is if change is made simply for the sake of change.  Management that is perceived to simply create change for its own sake will encounter resistance.  If leadership decides to embrace a path simply because it is different, some level of resistance can be expected from employees as its goals are not clear.  This becomes especially so if the organization has experienced success on some level.  Change just for its own sake might be seen as seeking to disrupt the pattern of success already established.  At the same time, employees might offer resistance if leadership seeks to change an organization's culture without providing a larger vision.  Leadership must provide a vision that is in line with future success for the organization.  If employees do not see this vision, resistance would be evident.  Finally, resistance would be evident if power is used as a means to enforce change, making decisions from a "top down" perspective and not engendering current employees as a part of that change.

In the end, management has to decide what it desires.  If it wants to work towards a consensus based solution where current employees feel as though they are a part of the organization's future, it must work towards this end through creating an inspirational vision that seeks to motivate, as opposed to force and bully. Management must enter into these terrains delicately, with a firm vision in place.  Management has to work in convincing the current members that embracing the new culture benefits everyone.  In addition to this, management "must model the new culture for others and change the organization's structure and management practices to support the new culture."  It must facilitate this change by ensuring that its commitment to the new cultural model is something that everyone accepts and is enforced with equality for all, showing little signs of favoritism or partisanship.  It must also work towards ensuring that structure and practices are geared towards this larger vision.  However, if management simply chooses to use tools of power to enforce through fiat, intimidation, and force its vision, it must deal with the consequences of resistance and disenchantment within the workforce.  This might be seen as something  acceptable to management, as a new vision spells removal of past elements.  Management has to decide how it wishes to pursue the path of change.

In the end, all cultural change is a delicate process.  Successful organizations realize that there is value in continuity and that resistance results in disruption should be minimized.  No one wins in a situation where disruption becomes the focal point of the organization.  When morale and desire to be a part of the unit is endemic, few can consider this a victory.  Management that enters into the terrain of cultural change must do so with a clear vision, and possess the necessary attributes of leadership and guidance in order to successfully bridge the past with the present and future.

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suvleena's profile pic

suvleena | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

Employees will resist cultural change if they do not think it will be effective.  They may think so because it is change merely for the sake of change, change without a vision, or top-down change, as the above commenter has explained.  Employees may also think the change is not effective because of how it is implemented and because the change itself may not be related to the larger vision.  Also, changes which are viewed as more work than they are worth are viewed as ineffective as well.  Humans value short term rewards and punishments much more than long term ones.  This means that work needed to be put in during the present will not be viewed as worth the reward unless the reward is substantially larger than the work put in to balance the effect of short term importance.  In order to be able to make effective cultural change, employees must view the change as effective, in implementation, relevance to a long term goal, affect on non-management employees, and efficiency in terms of effort put in and result.

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