Five Factors In Responding To Change
- The consequences of the change are significant. For whose benefit are the changes seen to be (employees, customers, the community, the shareholders, the board)? Who will be the winners and who will be the losers?
- The organizational history matters too. This means the track record of how the organization has handled change in the past (or how the acquiring organization is perceived), what the prevailing culture is, what the capacity of the organization is in terms of management expertise and resources to manage change effectively, and what the future, beyond the change, is seen to hold.
- The personality type of the individual is a major determining factor in how she or he responds to change. The Myers-Briggs type of the indi- vidual (reviewed earlier) can give us an indication of how an indi- vidual will respond to change. People’s motivating forces are also important – for example, are they motivated by power, status, money or affiliation and inclusion?
- The history of an individual can also give us clues as to how he or she might respond. By history we mean previous exposure and responses to change, levels of knowledge, skills and experience the individual has, areas of stability in his or her life and stage in his or her career. For example an individual who has previously experienced redundancy might re-experience the original trauma and upheaval regardless of how well the current one is handled. Or he or she may have acquired sufficient resilience and determination from the previous experience to be able to take this one in his or her stride.
Schein’s model of transformative change
Edgar Schein has been a leading researcher and practitioner in the fields of individual, organizational and cultural change over the last 20 years. His seminal works have included Process Consultation (1988) and Organizational Culture and Leadership (1992).
Schein elaborated on Lewin’s (1952) model by drawing on other disci- plines such as clinical psychology and group dynamics. This model influ- enced much OD and coaching work throughout the 1990s. See Chapter 3 for Lewin’s original model.
SCHEIN’S ELABORATION OF LEWIN’S MODEL
Stage One Unfreezing: Creating the motivation to change:
- Disconfirmation. • Creation of survival anxiety or guilt. • Creation of psychological safety to overcome learning anxiety. Stage Two Learning new concepts and new meanings for old concepts:
- Imitation of and identification with role models. • Scanning for solutions and trial-and-error learning. Stage Three Refreezing: Internalizing new concepts and meanings:
- Incorporation into self-concept and identity. • Incorporation into ongoing relationships.
Schein sees change as occurring in three stages:
- unfreezing: creating the motivation to change;
- learning new concepts and new meanings from old concepts;
- internalizing new concepts and meanings.
During the initial unfreezing stage people need to unlearn certain things before they can focus fully on new learning.
Schein says that there are two forces at play within every individual undergoing change. The first force is learning anxiety. This is the anxiety associated with learning something new. Will I fail? Will I be exposed? The second, competing force is survival anxiety. This concerns the pres- sure to change. What if I don’t change? Will I get left behind? These anxi- eties can take many forms. Schein lists four of the associated fears:
- Fear of temporary incompetence: the conscious appreciation of one’s lack of competence to deal with the new situation.
The underpinning theory
- Fear of punishment for incompetence: the apprehension that you will somehow lose out or be punished when this incompetence is discovered or assessed.
- Fear of loss of personal identity: the inner turmoil when your habitual ways of thinking and feeling are no longer required, or when your sense of self is defined by a role or position that is no longer recognized by the organization.
- Fear of loss of group membership: in the same way that your identity can be defined by your role, for some it can be profoundly affected by the network of affiliations you have in the workplace. In the same way that the stable equilibrium of a team or group membership can foster states of health, instability caused by shifting team roles or the disinte- gration of a particular group can have an extremely disturbing effect.
What gets in the way of change: resistance to change
Leaders and managers of change sometimes cannot understand why indi- viduals and groups of individuals do not wholeheartedly embrace changes that are being introduced. They often label this ‘resistance to change’.
Schein suggests that there are two principles for transformative change to work: first, survival anxiety must be greater than learning anxiety, and second, learning anxiety must be reduced rather than increasing survival anxiety. Used in connection with Lewin’s force field (see Chapter 3), we see that survival anxiety is a driving force and learning anxiety is a restraining force. Rather than attempting to increase the individual or group’s sense of survival anxiety, Schein suggests reducing the individual’s learning anxiety. Remember also that the restraining forces may well have some validity.
How do you reduce learning anxiety? You do it by increasing the learner ’s sense of psychological safety through a number of interventions. Schein lists a few:
- a compelling vision of the future;
- formal training;
- involvement of the learner;
- informal training of relevant family groups/teams;
- practice fields, coaches, feedback;
- positive role models;
- support groups;
- consistent systems and structures;
- imitation and identification versus scanning and trial and error.
STOP AND THINK! Q 1.11 Think of a recent skill that you had to learn in order to keep up with
external changes. This could be installing a new piece of software, or learning about how a new organization works.
- What were your survival anxieties?
- What were your learning anxieties?
- What helped you to change?
How managers and change agents help others to change
We have listed in Table 1.6 some of the interventions that an organization and its management could carry out to facilitate the change process. We have categorized them into the four approaches described earlier in this chapter.
From the behavioural perspective a manager must ensure that reward policies and performance management is aligned with the changes taking place. For example if the change is intended to improve the quality of output, then the company should not reward quantity of output. Kerr (1995) lists several traps that organizations fall into:
We hope for: But reward: Teamwork and collaboration The best team members Innovative thinking and risk-taking Proven methods and no mistakes Development of people skills Technical achievements Employee involvement and Tight control over operations
empowerment High achievement Another year ’s effort
The underpinning theory
Managers and staff need to know in detail what they are expected to do and how they are expected to perform. Behaviour needs to be defined, espe- cially when many organizations today are promoting ‘the company way’.
From the cognitive perspective a manager needs to employ strategies that link organizational goals, individual goals and motivation. This will create both alignment and motivation. An additional strategy is to provide ongoing coaching through the change process to reframe obsta- cles and resistances.
The psychodynamic perspective suggests adapting one’s managerial approach and style to the emotional state of the change implementers. This is about treating people as adults and having mature conversations with them. The psychodynamic approach enables managers to see the benefits of looking beneath the surface of what is going on, and uncov- ering thoughts that are not being articulated and feelings that are not being expressed. Working through these feelings can release energy for the change effort rather than manifesting as resistance to change.
Drawing on the transitions curve we can plot suitable interventions throughout the process. (See Figure 1.13.)