9.6.3 Where Changes take place

Organisational changes require changes at all levels. Several important factors have to be taken in consideration by managers:

  • Change has to be realistic, feasible and clearly stated.
  • If you try to force change, it will not be stable.
  • Change has to be understood and managed in such a way that people can deal with it. Change can be upsetting. That is why whoever presents a change management plan has to be of authority.

Change can be difficult, but it can save the company and jobs. It always causes stress and arouses natural resistance in people. People need support and time to adapt to it. The chart below illustrates the stages of adaptation that people go through in a company:

Figure 1: Phases of adaptation during a transition

First phase:
Shock. Workers feel endangered and confused. They withdraw, do not take risks. Fear and tension dominate. Performance decreases.

Second phase: Defensive withdrawal. After overcoming shock there is an angry reaction: open resistance, conflict, boycotting of change. Turnover increases.

Third phase: Acknowledgement. The active opposition fades away: there is complaining but reconciliation. Workers become more objective in viewing the plusses and minuses of the new situation. If the first steps of change are successful, the willingness to take a risk increases.

Fourth phase: Acceptance and adapting to change. People compare before and after the change and reluctantly admit the change might have been 'good'.

1 Human Resource Management in Crisis, Presentation, Stara Zagora, 10.09.2009.