Employee Behavior & Attitudes During Organizational Change

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  • 0:08 Employees Change
  • 1:14 Resistance to Change
  • 4:59 Managing Resistance
  • 5:43 Behavioral Reactions
  • 7:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Change can be difficult for organizations. The fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of failure, disruption of relationships, certain personalities and internal politics are the main reasons for rejecting change. In order to manage change, the company needs to offer communication, support and participation.

Employees and Change

Intestinal Distress Taco Restaurant's employees just received some disturbing news. The CEO has decided to change all the restaurants from Mexican food to a burger menu. The restaurants will be closed for one month while the stores are overhauled and the employees are trained on the new menu. Goodbye, Intestinal Distress Taco, and hello, Burger Queen. Upper management realizes that they have a battle on their hands to get the store management to accept the new changes. Employee behavior and attitudes regarding a change can drastically affect change efforts.

Intestinal Distress Taco's drastic change is going to create some major issues with parts of the employee population. Some managers will feel that their psychological contract, or internal commitment to the success of the restaurant, has been violated. There are many reasons why employees will resist change. Burger Queen has hired a consultant named Agent Change to help employees accept the radical new restaurant theme.

Resistance to Change

There are numerous reasons that can cause an individual to resist change in an organization. The fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of failure, disruption of relationships, certain personalities and internal politics are the main reasons for rejecting change. Some employees just hate any type of change. They fear the unknown and worry that the change will make the situation worse. This usually occurs when change is implemented with little corporate communication. Some restaurant managers regard the Burger Queen change in this manner, because they are not sure of what exactly will become of the restaurants. They are afraid that they will have no customers. Agent Change has the solution. He has educated the managers about how other Burger Queen stores have quadrupled the income of the old taco theme. Some employees actually mourn the possibility of losing something valuable.

The fear of a loss is another behavioral reaction to change. Employees always worry that change will cause them the loss of their job. Many employees worry about losing their position in the company during mergers or acquisitions. Agent Change has tried to avoid this issue by communicating that there would be no layoffs during the transition.

Some of the employees will have some challenges ahead due to a heavy workload. An increased workload or different job responsibilities (due to an organizational change) can lead to a fear of failure. Employees may be against the change because they do not have the confidence in tackling a more difficult workload. Companies need to support any changes by supplying excellent training for their employees. Burger Queen has agreed to close all of the restaurants for a month to ensure that all employees are comfortable and well trained regarding the new menu. Agent Change will be visiting each newly-themed restaurant to help train employees with 'Buntastic' classes.

Another reason employees can be resistant to change is due to concern over the disruption of relationships. Many employees enjoy both the social and work relationships of co-workers and customers. Change inevitably can affect both types of relationships. Automation improvements sometimes remove the human element of interaction.

For example, Intestinal Distress Taco Restaurant had an open kitchen with table service, which allowed employees and customers to intermingle. The new Burger Queen restaurant is a closed kitchen with numerous new automations - replacing human workers. In addition, there is no waiter/waitress needed, as the food is picked up by the customer when a number is called out. Burger Queen realizes that this is one of the biggest issues facing employees. Agent Change has suggested that any employee whose job is being replaced with automated equipment will be placed elsewhere in another restaurant; so, no one will lose their job.

Some employees have personalities that are more prone to embracing change than others. Certain personalities adapt better to change than others. Agent Change has made managers aware that it's important to be considerate to those employees who are having a difficult time with the change.

Lastly, internal politics can affect how the change is received by employees. Certain employees who were stars or favorites might not excel as easily in the new restaurant setup. This can cause friction. Agent Change has suggested that threats, intimidation or playing favorites needs to be removed from all aspects of the new company.

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