Organization Change and Resistance to Change

In order to execute changes effectively and devise the right tools and processes to do so, leaders should understand and prioritize the needs of organizations and individuals working in them. It was revealed during the needs assessment that to enhance teachers’ first aid skills and competence, the school must provide them with necessary training resources (information, time, personnel, and others). It is also important to design procedure and process systems to facilitate the change (choose the training mode, communication models, and so forth) and create a supportive environment and culture.

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Considering that the involvement of each member of the school staff is essential to attain success in change management, the discussion of the group processes should be carried out in the context of teamwork and collaboration. As stated by Tomal, Schilling, and Trybus (2013), “teamwork can raise the quality of the decision [on processes] and hopefully lower the risk of failure” (p. 52). It involves the sharing of opinions on the ways to organize the change in the school. Preferably, each teacher and relevant contributor to the attainment of the formulated improvement goal should participate in the discussion. As stated by Knight (2009), it is possible to “obtain commitment by offering teachers choices and valuing their voices” (p. 513). Thus, the leader should make sure that every individual is heard and his or her opinions are considered to increase their willingness to engage in the training program.

Noteworthily, it is also pivotal to communicate why the development of first aid skills in teachers is a necessary and urgent task and demonstrate how it is connected with the school values and mission. It may be useful to ask teachers to openly express their opinions regarding the value of the needed training for the school, team, and themselves as well. Such a conversation can help the leader to evaluate educators’ perceptions and the overall level of resistance to or support of the needed change.

Resistance to change can come from multiple sources and an improper type of power exercised by the leader is one of them. As noted by Pieterse, Caniëls, and Homan (2012), in hierarchical organizational structures where leaders have absolute power and expect compliance without providing employees with opportunities to express their views, the latter tend to be less engaged in the change process and resist it. Tomal, Schilling, and Trybus (2013) also state that abuse of legitimate power is often counterproductive and increases the risk of resistance. Therefore, it is important to empower teachers, involve them in the dialog regarding the improvement endeavors, and establish collaboration between the formal leader and informal team leaders to facilitate the change.

Overall, resistance often occurs when the change is forced and employees are not active participants in the improvement process and are merely told which measurable modifications in their performance they must show. However, Lawrence (1969) states that to establish a culture of change that would foster greater employee participation, leaders must also enhance the way in which relationships are established in the organization and ensure that workers’ sense of competence is not threatened by the change. When subordinates are told what to do by an expert “outsider” who is not normally involved in their customary ways of working, they feel threatened as both their usual working relationships and professional self-esteem are at risk. It means that the change process should be initiated from the inside of the team and, instead of forcing anything on teachers, the leader must respect their knowledge and skills. In this way, the existing working relationships will not be disrupted but will be improved. Such an approach will contribute to the establishment of better work culture and climate.

References

  1. Knight, J. (2009). What can we do about teacher resistance? Phi Delta Kappan, 90(7), 508-513.
  2. Lawrence, P. L. (1969). How to Deal with Resistance to Change. Harvard Business Review.
  3. Pieterse, J. H., Caniëls, M. C., & Homan, T. (2012). Professional discourses and resistance to change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 25(6), 798-818.
  4. Tomal, D. R., Schilling, C. A., & Trybus, M. (2013). Leading school change: Maximizing resources for school improvement. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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