The resistance factor

How can resistance be overcome?

John Kotter and Leo Schlesinger suggest that there is six techniques for managing resistance:

Education and commitment

The suggestion here is that managers need to share their knowledge and perceptions of the need for change and honest objectives of the change programmes with employees. This can involve expensive programme of face to face contact between managers and employees.

Participation and involvement

This involves identifying those who will potentially resist change and involving them in the process of planning and implementation. Collaboration can have the effect of reducing opposition and encouraging commitment.

Facilitation and support

If employees are more aware of their own fears about change and the threatening nature of change, they may be more open to these fears being adressed. Counselling and support in understanding these feelings may help to reduce them.

Negotiation and agreement

Managers should be prepared to negotiate rather than impose change especially where there are powerful groups. The nature of a particular change may need to be adjusted so that a mutually agreeable compromise is reached.

Manipulation and bribery

These techniques are more covert and involve attempts to head off resistance without having to confront it. Management put forward proposals that specifically appeal to the interests of different stakeholders. Information is then selectively presented, making the most of benefits and downplaying the potential drawbacks of change.

Implicit and explicit coercion

As a final strategy, it may be appropriate in some circumstances for senior managers to abandon attempts to achieve consensus and resort to force and threat.