Employees resistance to change as the major cause of change failure

Assessment on Employees’ resistance to change as the major cause of change failure


This study looks into several factors that lead to failure of change and verifying if the employees contribute to it. It is noted that ineffective communication, poor influence from the managerial team, poor business strategies, people who lack vision and implementation of inappropriate change are some of the many factors that lead to failure of change in an organization. However, feedback from the employees is a great determinant to how effective the change will be. Success comes along with the employees modifying their skills at will as well as their performance and behavior. In areas like the information and technology department, skills are a key issue and lack of enhancement of skills and experience where required by the employees leads to a tremendous fall (Holbeche, 2005). This study was not based on a personal view but on opinions from other authors.

Literature review on effects of change on an organization

Change in any setting of an organization or in real life situations makes people nervous. Some people are bound to resist change consciously while to some it happens in their sub-conscious. This is as a result of the fear that the change may have a negative impact on their lives. For instance, it leads to termination from work due to reduction in the workforce or the change in the working hours. The invasion of new technology, the Internet has increased the pace for these changes introducing new techniques of doing business. It is therefore very crucial for the Organizational Management to seek out the opinions of the employees affected before implementing any change and working it out together to achieve the expected goals (Wallace, 2007).

The process that enhances the renewal of the direction of the organization, its structure as well as its facilities to serve those needs of the customers, employees and market-place that are ever-changing is defined as the change management. To achieve change is difficult and despite previous efforts by many companies, most of them have failed. Nevertheless, the key to the survival of any organization is the capability to change and manage it. An example of a company that successfully implemented this is ‘Marks and Spencer’ while ‘The Mergers’ have failed to apprehend their potential (Holbeche, 2005).

On the other hand Fleming adds that the employees affected by change fear losing their positions, status or power. Others fear their incapability to cope with the new demands coupled with changes in introduction of new technology. Staffing which refers to de-skilling, acquisition of new abilities or failure to get career prospects or opportunities for promotions can cause negative effect. Therefore, introducing change to victims of staffing generally criticizes their current performance and the employees become discontented and are bound to resist changes (Fleming, 2004).

Change is only applicable if the employees become flexible to change and equip themselves with adaptable features. This is not possible if they do not acquire a sense of ownership of the business or organization. Employers need to create a bond of trust with their employees by addressing to their needs and seeing them achieve high performance In addition, they should build on flexibility and capability rates on their employees and be humane to them. More so employers need a plan that will enable them cater for emergency and with these they maximize chances of attaining sustainable soaring performance in the course of change (Holbeche, 2005).




Data analysis

A case study on a light engineering firm reveals the dissatisfaction of employees due to the changes that had been applied. A CAD-CAM which is the computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing system was implemented without prior consultations with the employees. The implementation was justifiable bearing the fact of its political environment, the insufficient organizational resources and the current managerial style. However, the employees were critical of improper organizational strategy in conjunction with poor integration between manufacturing and design. Furthermore, this engineering company failed to beat the time deadline set to realize the desired height of the system usage as well as meeting some key performance objectives (Symon & Clegg, 1991).

Such radical changes tend to pose a negative influence on the employees but that does not prove a point to undermine change. Linda Holbeche states that this type of change is bound to take place in most organizations at a certain point in their cycle of existence. In the process of growth and the establishment of routines of the organization some changes are radically established as new forms of leadership are introduced. Other organizations may not experience this growth curve from radical change but instead result to restructuring or downsizing (Holbeche, 2005).

According to Kotter 70-90% of successful change depends on leadership and merely 10-30% on management yet many organizations have insufficient good leadership. He adds that changes are mostly not firmly anchored in the corporate society. Besides, the organizations pronounce victory quite soon once they have successfully enacted changes. The consequences are implementation of derived new strategies, acquisitions fail to attain expected synergies, expensive costs on delayed reengineering and downsizing and quality agendas fail to yield the results that were anticipated. The solution to this is to take on to the force that enacts true change and to do contrary to these stated errors (Kotter, 1996).

Another case study is of a Division whose specialist in human resources has been requested to help in the changing process within the division. The specialist is required to first conduct his course by bringing forth the opinions of the managers as well as those of the staff. Secondly, he is required to decide and recommend on the most efficient change to both parties that would maintain the morale of the employees. He conducted interviews on the managers and the staff within the region. In order to get a finer picture concerning the structure of the organization, the specialist decided to stretch his scope of study to other regions as well. The results were perceived by the senior management and later offered to Division to get their response. There were six draft options on organization which were realized creating opportunities for new positions, new sections and branches (Connor, Lake, & Stackman, 2003).

Other related factors to change failure in organizations

Despite the fact that employees contribute a lot to change failure, there are other key factors that highly contribute to this. Complacency, which is failing to illustrate the urgency to people and their need to have combined effort to act as a guide to steer, as much as, fabricate the change leads to failure. When there is no vision or letting obstacles build a wedge towards the vision, change is hard to implement. Some employers under-communicate the change thus the people fail to commit to a united effort to bring the change to realization (Kotter, 1996).

Other reasons for change resistance are financial costs, plant layout, and apathy of workers or business owners. Change tends to be costly and requires huge expenditures. It involves the cost-benefit analysis. This is a precaution measure which covers the investment cost, surplus as profit and compensation for risks. Purchase of new equipment comes along with change and redundancies especially when employees are sent home and replaced with machines for instance computers and automated machines. Public servants, bank employees and waterside workers share histories of redundancies. However, they are compensated according to their terms of service and various formulae. In other sectors of economy, like the airlines, costs have incurred from vigorous training to ameliorate their customer service as a result of increased stiff competition due to regulations (Fleming, 2004).

Changing a plant layout is very expensive and can contribute to uncertainty as well as low morale on workers. Plant layout which is the assortment of a site or position for every department or course or procedure function is influenced by the process used for production. It could be function layout or flow-line layout. In function layout all the machines assume similar processes together while flow-line includes independent groups with own control, producing an absolute unit (Fleming, 2004).

In addition, most workers and business owners are rigid to changing their living habits and positions. People have a tendency of being entrenched to attitudes, ideas and familiar positions. As a result of being accustomed to their state of inertia they develop fear of the unknown if change is introduced. They hence develop a mechanism, apparent resistance which could be observable or disguised resistance which is hidden in the act of the usual or accustomed working. These workers later on end up slowing down or worse sabotaging work (Fleming, 2004).

Another factor that causes change failure is mergers and takeovers who fail to ensure cultural compatibility. This causes major problems and as a result poor results to a company or organization. Lack of preparation in such a scenario is the major cause of problems to the two parties, the old party and the merger or the company or organization that is taking over. The most critical period in which cultural differences pose major problems is the one right after the merger takes over (Fleming, 2004).

Changes in an organization or business premises and companies are made to improve productivity or to incorporate new management. Changes are initiated by internal forces as well as external forces and they involve different main players namely the agents, recipients and allies of change. The change agents make changes within an organization while the recipients of change are those that are supposed to change concurrent with the organization. Change allies on the other hand are those that aid in sustaining whilst moving along the set change plans (Connor, Lake, & Stackman, 2003).


The effect of change on employees aggravates various emotions especially from those directly involved. Feelings of anxiety, fear to fail, loss and self doubt will cause the employees to resist change. The acknowledgement of these feelings by the relevant change agents is thus important to create awareness and interest to the employees. In addition, employers ought to establish an air of familiarity so that they are able to deal with any form of resistance that could occur from the employees. In as much as change could be hard to implement it proves to be more difficult to manage it. Some employees will openly reject the process on the onset whilst others may hide their feelings and show compliance but their actions reveal otherwise. It is therefore advisable to exercise collaborative communication between the management and the staff (Pendlebury, Grouard, & Meston, 1998).


Connor, P. E., Lake, L. K., & Stackman, R. W. (2003). Managing organizational change. New York: Praeger.

Fleming, L. (2004). Excel HSC Business Studies. Australia: Pascal Press.

Holbeche, L. (2005). Understanding change. United Kingdoms: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Pendlebury, J., Grouard, B., & Meston, F. (1998). The ten keys to successful change management. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Symon, G., & Clegg, C. W. (1991). Technology-Led Change: A Study of the Implementation of CADCAM. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology , 273.

Wallace, S. (2007). Organisational Change Management. Retrieved June 21, 2011, from http://www.epmbook.com/orgchange.htm


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