Learning and Improvement in an Organisation During the contemporary period, the business world is characterised by increasing turbulence and massive changes and it is widely held that for businesses to remain viable and competitive, learning is very crucial in order for them to keep pace with the changes. However, implementing a learning programme in an organisation is likely to be met with resistance at three levels namely: individual, departmental/team as well as organisational resistance. Against this background, this reflective essay seeks to analyse the various dynamics that account for an apparent inability or unwillingness to learn.
It also seeks to suggest remedies that could be put in place to overcome barriers to resistance to change. Learning and improvement can only thrive in an atmosphere where learning is truly valued and where it is truly accepted, even expected that questioning and exploring creative possibilities and solutions are the norm (Zeus & Skiffington 2002). This entails that even if the initiative to change which brings about learning is noble, it is somehow met with resistance by the members of the organisation. Argyris (1991 as cited in Zeus & Skiffington 2002) defines resistance as the thoughts or actions individuals, groups and organisations employ to defend their usual way of dealing with reality.
In other words, these people are used to the usual way of doing things and they will resist any attempt to bring about changes to their normal way of operating. It can be seen that resistance to change is a natural phenomenon but if it is ignored, it will hinder the change efforts that will bring about learning and this will result in a waste of money and resources.
The forces against change are multiple and interrelated and require a holistic management approach since resistance to change is not only demonstrated by the employees, but also by managers and the organisation as an entity (Schultz et al 2003). As a general rule, there is more resistance to change in an organisation that is hierarchical and rigid than the one that is flexible and informal. If a climate of trust and openness already exists in the organisation, there will be less resistance.
The following factors are going to be analysed as they are aptly illustrated by (Schultz et al 2003). As far as individuals are concerned, resistance can arise from the feelings of insecurity such as potential job losses. Some individuals fear that they can be made redundant by changes that can be implemented in the organisation the reason why they resist change right from the onset. Others may be just afraid of the unknown and would prefer to continue with the old system as they would be afraid of learning new things. Some individuals may resist change as a result of peer influence where they may just decide to resist any change for the sake of resisting it.
They may have low personality towards any change since they would have a feeling that it will inconvenience them in their duties given that they would need to change from the usual way of doing things to a new way deemed necessary. In some cases, the individuals may lack trust for their management which will make them resist the proposed change. If the individuals do not see the immediate benefit of change, they will not readily accept it.
Some individuals do not just like to change their behaviour as this may result in them keeping on learning new things which will otherwise consume their time. It can be noted that managerial as well as team resistance may be attributed to the same factors that cause resistance in the individuals. It can be noted that these are also human beings and they are likely to possess the same feelings as their subordinates. In some cases, the managers are afraid that they will lose their authority in the event of new changes being implemented in the organisation.
Some managerial positions are regarded as sources of prestige as well as status in the society hence the managers would not feel very happy to lose such positions. Besides fear of losing their status both in the organisation and outside, the managers are also afraid of losing authority. In most cases, most people are concerned with the politics of power and the authority they have to influence others to perform different tasks.
Managers are also afraid of change because of added responsibility to their usual duties and tasks. This may mean that the managers will have to perform extra tasks on top of the ones they are already doing hence they will be sceptical of an extra burden. The organisation on the other hand may resist change as a whole because of the intricacies involved such as time and costs as well as the efforts to change. In some cases, implementing a changing to the company will not bring about early benefits as would have been anticipated.
In this case, it can be noted that they would prefer to soldier on with their usual way of doing things than embark on something that will derail progress in the organisation. In some cases, the previous investments in buildings, technology and equipment will have cost them a fortune such that they will have learned a good experience that change should not be done in a haphazard manner. It can be noted that some cultures in different organisations are deep rooted such that they will be resistant to change.
Issues related to organisational culture are very important with regards to the overall performance of the organisation especially during the contemporary period where it can be noted that the business environment is dynamic and it is ever changing. Culture shapes the way people in an identifiable organisation behave and it has a bearing on their day to day performance. On the other hand, “Organisational culture refers to a system of shared assumptions held by members of a given organisation which distinguishes it from the other, ” (Werner 2003: 25).
In simple terms, organisational culture is a system that tries to make a distinction between one organisation from the other. Other organisations have bureaucratic structures which rely on line authority and they would not want to change the structure for various reason. In other words, change to such kind of organisation will bring about changes in the authority vested in the hands of the powerful decision makers. This can be regarded as a challenge hence the need for them to try and maintain stability. Indeed resistance to change is a natural phenomenon but it is real.
Getting a cue from Robinson (2001), the following guidelines can be used as remedies for minimising resistance to learning during the change process. There is need to encourage genuine participation right from the start so as to minimise the chances of resistance to change. Members of the organisation who participate in meetings and workshops discussing change strategies and its implementation will demonstrate greater enthusiasm for the change since they will have a sense of belonging to the initiative. By virtue of taking part in the discussion, all the participants will become part and parcel of the change programme hence the implementation part will not be met with that stiff resistance.
The top management should also communicate relevant, timely and accurate information to the members of the organisation in a bid to create an environment of shared trust and commitment which will minimise the chances of resistance should the management decide to implement any changes. It follows from the argument that organisation members should always believe in the integrity of top management and should always perceive their actions as being meant for the good of the organisation and its members.
Building trust among the members is always a long lasting remedy for any organisation which may wish to implement some changes in its operations. Another remedy that can be taken into consideration is that the management of the organisation should seek to implement change if there is a genuine need for that change not just initiating it for the sake of just changing. There is need to develop and communicate a strategic human resources plan that will ensure that there is retention as well as redeployment strategies in place to cater for the people who may be affected by the changes that can be implemented in the organisation.
Over and above, it can be noted that change is necessitated by various factors but it is not that easy to implement it since it is met with resistance from other members of the organisation. Among the other causes of resistance is fear to lose authority as well as job security.
Involvement of the members of the organisation in the decision making that is likely to bring about change is the best remedy that can minimise the chances of resistance to change. References Amos T. L., et al 2008. Human Resources Management. 3rd Edition. JUTA Robins S. P., Odendaal A. & Roodt G., 2001. Organisational Behaviour. Pearson Education Schultz et al 2003. Organisational behaviour. CT. Van Schaik Publishers. Werner A. Et al 2007. Organisational behaviour: A contemporary SA perspective. 2nd Edition.
Van Schaik Publishers. Zeus P. & Skiffington S. (2002). The coaching at work toolkit: A complete guide to techniques and practices. McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd