Overcoming Barriers to Change in Organizations

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  • 0:58 Communication
  • 1:27 Employee Involvement
  • 2:20 Leadership
  • 2:50 Negotiation
  • 3:55 Correct Timing
  • 4:19 Manipulation/Coercion
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Overcoming barriers to change in an organization can be difficult. There are some basic strategies that can help improve the acceptance of major changes within a company.

Overcoming Barriers to Change

Intestinal Distress Taco Restaurant's management just received the shock of their lives. The CEO has decided to change all the restaurants from Mexican food to a burger menu. The restaurants will be closed for a 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. Overcoming barriers to change in an organization can be difficult. There are some basic strategies that can help improve the acceptance of major changes within a company: communication, employee involvement, leadership, negotiation, manipulation/coercion and correct timing.


Two-way communication that is clear and honest will help to initiate acceptance of change with employees. If the information is inaccurate or a lack of information exists it can cause problems with the acceptance of change.

The managers of Burger Queen thought that there would be major layoffs with the restaurant format change. An email immediately was dispersed explaining that all jobs were safe, and in fact, there would be more promotion opportunities with the new themed restaurant.

Employee Involvement

Companies should also consider fostering employee involvement with decision-making. This helps make the employees feel valued and also have ownership in the change result. The only issue with using this effectively is that sometimes too much feedback can cause paralysis within the organization.

At Burger Queen, the CEO did send out an email asking for marketing and product ideas to be sent to his vice president of development. The company found that the employees became excited to see some of their ideas implemented. For example, one employee suggested that they could say 'What do you wish for today?' when asking for a food order. To keep with the Queen motif, the chairs would look like thrones, and once an hour a customer would be named Burger Queen and receive a voucher for a free meal.


Excellent leadership is needed for change to be exercised effectively, as well. Good leadership can help rally support for the change and provide direction on how best to execute the plans. Sometimes the key can be to hire a star leader to motivate and provide focus for the change.

Burger Queen hired a new female vice president who was known in the restaurant business for her optimism and professionalism. The managers were excited to have such a talented and well-known executive on their team.


The ability for the company to consider alternative views is important, as well. Companies can't be rigid regarding how the change is implemented. Sometimes using negotiation to handle disagreements on issues with the change will work best. Certain people within the organizations might feel as though they are losing power, prestige or money. It's best for companies to find a solution through compromise and communication. Employees unhappy with changes can cause larger morale issues.

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