Assignment 4: Resistance and Communication
HRM 560 – Managing Organizational Change
In this assignment, I will be discussing Verizon Wireless’s level of resistance to change and the possible reasons for that resistance. I will also be constructing a solid communication plan to make certain the process of implementing that change goes as smoothly as possible. Once I interpret the potential caused of resistance in the organization, I will create a plan for minimizing that change resistance and also establish a way to communicate said change most effectively. Once the change is in place, I will then recommend one communication strategy that will be applicable to Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless states that, “Change Energizes Us”, in its vision statement but that is not always the case for each and every individual. Change is usually something that is inevitable for most organizations or companies that want to be successful. You have to always be prepared for change and be adaptable in order to grow but everyone in an organization doesn’t always see this as a positive thing. What are the reasons for resistance to change? Resistance is the natural and normal reaction to change so it should be expected. The reasons will vary depending on the individual but my change initiative is on behalf of the employees so the resistance my fall on both sides, employees and the employer.
As I previously stated, the current policy being mandated by Verizon’s Human Resources department will not allow its employees to carry over any of their sick or personal days. I feel that this policy is one that they should look at changing so that employees that are not sick or that don’t use their personal time should be either able to carry the hours over to the next year or get some type of payout for the hours remaining. In my research I have found several key reasons why leadership would put up a resistance to the change being requested. As a pragmatic leader, it can be hard to make changes at an organizational level. Even if you’re an entrepreneur, and even if it’s your company. You’re not just persuading a few people – you’re altering the course of your whole company. And that’s influenced by myriad forces such as history, culture and organizational structure (Bacharach, S., 2013, May 2).
The first reason Verizon may resist changing its current policy would be due to strength of culture. Every organization has its own culture. Some businesses have a laid-back, casual culture that emphasizes the development of individual expression. Other firms stress regimented by-the-numbers work processes. When change is introduced into any of the previously mentioned scenarios, it can disrupt the culture of an organization in a negative way. Verizon has a very strong culture that has been around for years so any thought of disrupting that established culture will definitely process resistance.
Another possible reason for Verizon Wireless’s resistance to my policy change is Sunk cost. Sunk costs are the cost that have already been incurred and cannot be changed by any decision. Organizations resist change because they don’t want to lose their sunk costs. Organizations fear the cost of change, which is why they are reluctant to move quickly. The fear of losing a great deal of money is the biggest incentive not to act at all (Bacharach, S., 2013, May 2). Fear of the unknown, this key reason for resistance can apply to both employer and employee. This type of resistance occurs mainly when change is implemented without warning the affected stakeholders before the change occurs. When change (especially what is perceived as negative change) is pushed onto people without giving them adequate warning and without helping them through the process of understanding what the change will include and how their jobs/work will be affected, it can cause people to push back against the change due to their fear of the unknown (Quast, L., 2012, November 26).
The classic psychological reactions to change start with denial, anger, confusion, and eventually transition on to acceptance and new confidence. It’s not possible to be aware of all sources of resistance to change. Expecting that there will be resistance to change and being prepared to manage it is a proactive step. Recognizing behaviors that indicate possible resistance will raise awareness of the need to address the concerns (Torben, R. (2011, May 23). Three (3) main sources that come to mind when I think of resistance in an organization are lack of trust, insecurity, and poor communication. The first (1st) source I’m going to discuss is regarding a lack of trust. Trust plays a big role in running a successful organization. When organization members feel they cannot trust each other or key decision makers, it becomes difficult for them to accept organizational changes. They may ascribe the changes to some negative underlying reason or even assume they will eventually lose their jobs (Brookins, M. (2016).
The second (2nd) source of resistance I will discuss would be a result of insecurity. For people working in a comfortable environment for quite some time, a change of environment often brings about uncertainty and people no longer know exactly what to expect from the implementation of change. A sense of insecurity prevails in people who are subjected to change from one environment to another. The last source of resistance I will mention is communication or the lack thereof. Communication has been noted as one of the most important aspects of change management. Changes within an organization like Verizon Wireless start with key decision makers. It is up to them to pass along the details to the team members and ensure all questions and complaints are handled before changes of into effect. Unfortunately, as news of a change spreads through the hierarchy, details are sometimes skewed and members end up receiving inaccurate, second-hand information. Poor communication can therefore cause resistance to change (Brookins, M. (2016).
The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance in each situation and then strategize around them (Quast, L., 2012, November 26). With this phrase in mind, I will look to create a plan for minimizing possible resistance to my change management plan. As Kotter stated, in a change process, you are going to have people that strongly disagree and will not buy in. The first (1st) step in my plan to minimize resistance will be to use Verizon’s culture to my advantage. Anyone working in this company currently is fully aware of the fact that change is the one constant in the telecommunications industry so that will be reiterated at the start of the change process. As stated earlier, the phrase, “change energizes us”, is a part of Verizon’s vision so it will be reinforced to create that sense of urgency needed to start the change.
Next I will present the change initiative to employees and allow them to provide what they think is necessary feedback in order to make sure this change is the right thing to do. Empowering the employees will allow them to feel in control because they will be sharing input on their future. Control of their own jobs is one of five key factors in what employees want from work. If you have communicated transparently, you have provided the direction, the rationale, the goals, and the parameters that have been set by your organization. Your job is to empower the employees to make the change work (Heathfield, S. M., 2016, May 6).
The last part of my plan to minimize resistance will be to use all resources to communicate the change. I believe that how you communicate the change to the people you influence has the single most important impact on how much resistance to change will occur. If you wholeheartedly communicate the change, you will win the hearts and minds of the employees. Also, one of the key factors in reducing resistance to change is to implement change in an environment in which there is wide-spread belief that a change is needed (Heathfield, S. M., 2016, May 6).
In my opinion, the relationship between resistance to change and communication go hand in hand. As I previously mentioned, communication has been noted as one of the most important aspects of change management. I also stated that I believe how you communicate the changes to the people you influence has the single most important impact on how much resistance to change will occur. I truly believe that if you wholeheartedly communicate the change and get your employees to see WIIFM (what’s in it for me), you will win the hearts and minds of the employees.
When evaluating the best communication strategies to implement in my change process, three (3) of them come to mind. First, I would use face-to-face communication showing that our Director at Verizon is clearly visible and in full support for the change along with the rest of top management. The best way to be clear and concise with communication is provide the information directly. They may happen in town halls, or group/huddle meetings with the supervisors. The director will either use the town hall meeting environment or broadcast the message electronically via video or teleconference to show he is in full support of the change.
Next would be to provide employees with as much information as possible as early and as often as possible. If you want to maintain the trust already established with employees, you want to explain to them the why and the how in regards to the change. Explaining why the company is making the change and why it is important will definitely help the employees to understand the reason for the change. Again, remembering to tie in what’s in it for them will help to see the benefit of that change. Follow the why change is necessary with information on how the process will take place and how the employee will be affected should provide the clarity needed. Last, I would continue the communication information effectively throughout the process and even after the change is completely implemented. There will still be employees that are lacking confidence because of the change itself so I would have an open door policy where employees can go directly into HR, senior management or their supervisor’s office to further discuss any issues they are having with our change to the policy to help them adjust. Communication will be sent out regularly via email, newsletters and face to face discussions will still occur in team meetings or via teleconference if necessary.
Of all the options mentioned, I would focus mostly on the face-to-face interactions to be my main source of communications in this time of change. I my opinion, this type of communication will be the most effective. All town hall meetings as well as team meetings are all currently mandatory at Verizon. It is important to show what the change sounds like, looks like, and feels like. If the communication is not timely or accurate, there will be problems. It requires much face-to-face communication. People have to feel confident, secure, and hopeful about the change. Only then can corporate cultures be changed (Richardson, P., & Denton, D. K., 1996). With face-to-face meetings there is less room left for miscommunication and there is also the ability for employees to provide real time feedback so their concerns can be addressed.
Throughout this paper I have mentioned the importance of communication and the impact it has on the change initiative being implemented. I would definitely start this process off with as much face-to-face communication as possible. We will do Town hall meetings, where Q & A time is built into the format. For employees that work remotely, they will be reached via teleconferencing. Supervisors will still hold their team meeting where they can address any questions not directly answered in the town hall meetings. After the face-to-face scenarios, we will use all common methods of communication meaning emails, newsletters, and also place posted or printed materials in all break rooms and the cafeterias. The management team will be certain to explain the desired results that the change initiatives will bring. Sharing the big picture encourages employees to understand and accept corporate objectives. Employees are less likely to object to new procedures when they fully understand why the company is making the changes (Perez, D., 2015).
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