Barriers to Change

Visionary leadership is crucial for change; however, managers should expect to encounter resistance as they guide the organization along the curve of change. It is natural for people to resist change, and many barriers to change exist at the individual and organizational levels.

1. Excessive focus on costs. Management may possess the mindset that costs are all-important and may fail to appreciate the importance of a change that is not focused on costs—for example, a change to increase employee motivation or customer satisfaction.

2. Failure to perceive benefits. Any significant change will produce both positive and negative reactions. Education may be needed to help managers and employees perceive more positive than negative aspects of the change. In addition, if the organization’s reward system discourages risk-taking, a change process might falter because employees think that the risk of making the change is too high.

3. Lack of coordination and cooperation. Organizational fragmentation and conflict often result from the lack of coordination for change implementation. Moreover, in the case of new technology, the old and new systems must be compatible.

4. Uncertainty avoidance. At the individual level, many employees fear the uncertainty associated with change. Constant communication is needed so that employees know what is going on and understand how it affects their jobs.

5. Fear of loss. Managers and employees may fear the loss of power and status—or even their jobs. In these cases, implementation should be careful and incremental, and all employees should be involved as closely as possible in the change process.

Implementation can typically be designed to overcome many of the organizational and individual barriers to change.

Reference:

Daft, Richard L. Organization Theory and Design. Cengage Learning, 03/2012. VitalBook file.

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