A Case Study on Change Resistance
One of the aspects that are challenging for the majority of businesses is change. Failure to motivate employees may result in resistance to change. Thus, to get an organization to buy in change, there is a need to motivate employees. Several factors affect the ability of a business to implement change, which can either resist or push change (Jones, 2013). In my previous workstation, the company was introducing new software. The workers were insecure towards the change, as some argued that the software would result in laying off some employees. Although the root of the problem was resistance to change, the managers left the issue unsolved and the employees were demotivated, led to reduced productivity, and the situation became disruptive.
Who was ready to lose their job opportunity? We all feared and felt that our positions in the company were in jeopardy. The management while introducing the technology failed to communicate with the employees. This failed to alleviate our fears as employees in the company. In turn, the issue greatly affected performance, as there were low productivity and quality as well as the increased turnover rate among the employees. This assignment will explore the theories that explore the aspect of change resistance in a business and how to mitigate such issues.
Theoretical Perspective of Change Resistance and Performance
The assignment will apply attribution theory that was founded by Fritz Heider to evaluate how an individual perceives their behavior, as well as the behavior of others. Heider argues that all forms of behavior are influenced by either external or internal factors (Weiner, 2012). The attribution theory can be used to describe an employee’s performance and motivation, as it explores both internal and external factors influencing behavior.
According to Heider, internal attribution is what an individual can control and the behavior is not influenced by outside factors. These forms of factors are also termed as dispositional attribution and an example is individual knowledge (Weiner, 2012). The second form of factor is the eternal attribution where an individual is influenced by outside forces, which they do not have control over. With this, the individual does not feel responsible and the issue is termed as situational attribution. In the example above of change resistance, the introduction of the new software was a situational attribution. The employees did not individually bring the change but the organization influenced the change. The company disrupted the situation and the employees resisted, which in turn affected productivity.
The second theory that is applicable in this situation is Stacey Adams Equity theory. Bell and Martin (2012) argue that Adams’ Equity Theory calls for a balance between the inputs of an employee (enthusiasm, acceptance, skill level, hard work, and others) and their outputs (benefits, salary, and intangibles like recognition). In general, Adams’ Equity Theory forms a fair balance that increases a productive and strong relationship between a business and employees and results in motivated and contented employees. Stacey Adams in her theory acknowledges the aspect of demotivation among employees due to their employer or their job. In such an instance, the employee may feel that their inputs exceed the outputs. Bell and Martin (2012) explain that a lack of balance between the inputs and outputs of employees may cause employees to be disruptive, disgruntled, reduced efforts, and demotivated.
Applying Stacey’s Adams Equity Theory to the situation at my previous workplace, it is clear that there was an imbalance between the outputs and the inputs of employees. The employees felt that their inputs that included their hard work, loyalty, effort, adaptability, ability, skills, commitment, personal sacrifice, trust in managers, enthusiasm, and determination were not appreciated or recognized by the management. Worse, there were fewer outputs in comparison to the inputs. For example, the financial rewards provided by the management were not in line with the input.
Worse was the aspect of intangible outputs where for example, there was no sense of attainment, praise, responsibility, reputation, recognition, stimulus, job security, and sense of growth. For example, the introduction of the software placed employees at the fear of losing their job. The level of job security was jeopardized. Personnel spent much of their time searching for other opportunities, as there was no future in the company anymore from the lens of the employees. The situation worsened when employees started regaining from their position, which increased the turnover rate in the company. However, performance and motivation issues would have prevented and solved using the following interventions.
Intervention/Action for Change
The managers can solve the issue of employee demotivation by turning their attention to desirable motivational states, which are attainable through optimistic effort-reward expectation. Using attribution theory, the managers should empower employees and engage them throughout the change process. Jones (2013) explains that engaging employees on a change process empower them to accept the change and also drive change among themselves. For example, understanding the advantage of the software at individual and company level would have resulted in a successful change process. Although change resistance is highly probable in any change process, solving the issue and empowering the employees is the strategy that drives the change. Thus, the management should instill optimistic attribution skills to eliminate the issues of hostile and optimistic attribution styles, which reduce empowerment.
The Equity Theory applies similar aspects to Maslow’s five levels of needs and Herzberg two factors of motivation. This is because Stacey Adams argues that high levels of motivation and positive outcomes can be attained after employees view their treatment as fair. The employees evaluate their performance using the outputs received. Jones (2013) argues that benefits and salaries alone do not influence an employee’s motivation. For example, that company used to increase salaries and offered promotions to employees but this did not cause a desirable impact but even caused employees to be demotivated.
One area of life that every employee desires equal and fair treatment is at the place of work. Skiba and Rosenberg (2011) argue that treating employees unfairly and differently may result in demotivation and bad blood. One strategy that the management would have applied was explaining to the employees about the new software, its advantages, and its impact on the business. With this, the employees would be less threatened about technological change and would embrace the change within no time. Job security is a critical aspect, which if not solved can increase the turnover rate.
Bell, R., & Martin, J. (2012). The relevance of scientific management and equity theory in everyday managerial communication situations. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 13(3).
Jones, G. R. (2013). Organizational theory, design, and change. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Skiba, M., & Rosenberg, S. (2011). The disutility of equity theory in contemporary management practice. The Journal of Business and Economic Studies, 17(2), 1.Weiner, B. (2012). An attribution theory of motivation. Handbook of theories of social psychology, 1, 135-155.
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