Organizational change is a situation where by an organization move from the current state to a hopefully better state in the future. This situation normally does not occur spontaneously in an organization, but rather takes place when forces encouraging change out do force resisting this change (Sengupta, 2006). Forces that call for change in an organization can be technological forces, employee needs and value, social, business and economic forces. Organizational development on the other side refers to study to address change and its effect on an organization at both individual and organizational level. Organization development assists an individual and the entire organization to cope with change and ensure the desired impacts or goals are attained (Anderson, 2012). Sometimes individuals and groups within an organization may not embrace change and instead resist. This is what is normally referred to as organizational inertia. Organization tends to maintain the status quo, which normally happens in three levels. These levels are the management, group and individual levels. However, through an effective organization development, resistance to change can be managed and solved.
Individual and group-level factors that affect organizational change and development
When change is initiated in an organization, people anticipate either positive, negative or both impacts. Individual and groups have different reactions towards change. Others will oppose while others will embrace the change (Carnall, 2007). In other words, people react to change rationally and logically. Some of the factors that affect this change are as follows;
Perception of value: Individuals and groups have a different perception towards the value the change will bring to the organization. The valuation is made based on past experience or understanding of the change and its effect at both individual and group level. When a conclusion is reached that the change will cause loss to an individual, group or the entire organization, resistance is highly anticipated. On the other side, support for change will be realized if its impact is anticipated to improve the affairs of the organization at all level. Understanding change is another factor that may affect organizational change and development. Everybody fears the unknown or uncertainty (Cummings & Worley, 2009). This is because uncertainty will either cause loss, gain or both. Individuals and groups have different vested interests in the organization. The more an individual has vested interest in the organization, the more he/she is going to embrace or resist change. Those with no vested interest will accept or resist change without even understanding its consequences. Generally, people are going to resist change if they do not understand it and can even react in either direction if they are confused about it (Harigopal, 2006). I have ever resisted change when I was a member of an environmental organization within my school. There was a proposal to change the name of the organization and the management had not given a clear explanation to the proposed change. I and other colleagues could not understand the reasons behind changing the name as well as its impacts. We end up resisting change because of lack of understanding.
Trust in change initiators is another factor that affects change and development in an organization. Initiators are those people who are responsible for identifying, planning and implementing the change (Seleshi Sisaye, 2000). Individuals in an organization make their decision based on their knowledge on the initiator’s experience. Initiators in most organizations are the management, and less there is a specific team task to do the job. When we have low trust in the initiators, the first question we are going to ask ourselves is: what will happen and how is going to harm us? When people lack trust, there is a tendency that change will be perceived negatively and thus resistance. The opposite happens when people have trust in the initiators especially from the past experience.
Agreement with change is also a factor that affects change and development. This is simply because of lack of prior assessment on the part of management on the likely reception the change will receive on the side of the stakeholders. It is logical that those who think the change is a brilliant idea will embrace it while those who think otherwise will resist. In my previous stated experience, it is only those who understood the need and reason behind the changing of my organization name that accepted the change (Sengupta, 2006). This is because they understood and came to an agreement that changing the organization’s name was appropriate. Personal and group feeling is another factor that most organization do not consider necessary yet, it affects the organization’s change and development. Personal or group feeling entails characteristics that affect whether to support or resist change. For example, if an individual feels that he/she lacks the skills required by the change, resistance is the most expected thing while the opposite happens when one is confidence on the required skills.
Management of these factors
Education and effective communication of the change is the first step to undertake. The initiators need to enable stakeholders through education understand the reasons behind the proposed change, as well as its impacts on the organization (Yaeger, & Sorensen, 2009). Through education and communication, we obtain answers to these the complex questions of how the change will be introduced. When this introduction is going to be? What is the resultant effect of the change? Participation and involvement is another management strategy that works hand in hand with the education and communication. Through this, information from the stakeholders is going to be obtained that will assist the initiators to improve the quality or the effectiveness of the change and improve the likelihood of change acceptance.
Provision of incentives to change should be adopted. This is because most of individuals and groups resist change when they feel it affects them negatively on them at the same time embrace change when it has positive effects (Yaeger, & Sorensen, 2009). The initiators should provide incentives to them to emphasize on the potential, personal gain when the change is implemented. Manipulation and co-opting can be another strategy to manage the stated factors. Manipulation here refers to a scenario where the initiators only provide information that makes the change appears positive while concealing information that might discourage support for change. Co-opting is an uncommon form of manipulation that conceals the genuine interest on the part of employee input while, in the real sense, those trying to initiate change are merely nurturing support for their efforts (Sengupta, 2006). In this case, stakeholders might be asked to join and actively participate in the process while in the real sense their efforts are not required (Shani, Pasmore, & Woodman, 2012).
Provision of task support will assist help those who lack confidence in their skills required by the change to gain confidence. Employees and other stakeholders should be provided with technical support, guidance and even training. For example in technological change, those employees with no computer skills are provided with computer training to boost their confidence and thus be able to embrace change.
Organizational change and development are two interrelated things that an organization must put together. Organizational change helps an organization keep with changing times and it can be either reactive or proactive. To contain these changes in place, an organization needs to have an effective organizational development that manages the force that support/resist change.