Managing Change

“Change is an inevitable and constant feature. It is an inescapable part of both social and organisational life and we are all subject to continual change of one form to another” (Mullins, 2013:711). As the author says, change happens everywhere. Every organisation is subjected to change at one point or the other as change leads to progression.

Before we dive deep down the issue, one must understand as to why change occurs? What are the forces behind it? “Some of the factors as listed by Mullins are as follows:-

  •          Uncertain economic conditions.
  •          Fierce competition due to globalisation.
  •          Vested political interests.
  •          Induction of new technologies.
  •          Changing nature of workforce.
  •          Internal conflicts within an organisation”. (Mullins, 2013:711).

Change can be primarily categorised into planned and emergent. Planned change was first coined by Kurt Lewis to distinguish it from the emergent changes. Lewis identified three phases of planned change viz

  •          Unfreezing: – minimising the present behaviour, incorporating the need for change and the improvement required.
  •          Movement: – Developing new behaviour and implementing the change.
  •          Refreezing: – Stabilizing the change & incorporating policies and norms.

(Mullins, 2013:714).

Emergent change on the other hand “based on the assumption that change is a continuous and unpredictable process of aligning and realigning an organisation to the changing environment” (Burnes 2010).

“Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change. It is all down to the personality of the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to change”. (Mullins, 2013). Change is always met with resistance and criticism. Individuals to organisations, everybody opposes change at the first place.

One of the key roles of management is to understand the reasons behind the resistance. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs best depicts the psychology of an individual. It basically classifies the needs in the form of a pyramid ranging from higher to lower needs. Implementing it during change process can help defend resistance.

Management can do a lot in reducing the resistance towards change. “Some of the key steps for successful large-scale change prescribed by Kotter and Cohen as quoted by Mullins are as follows:-

  •          Create a sense of urgency among the people concerned with the change.
  •          Create visions which are clear and precise. Visions must be in sync with the strategy of the organisation.
  •          Communicate with the change affected people of the organisation regarding the strategy and the vision.
  •          Empower action and remove obstacles which hinder the change process among the people.
  •          Implement short term incentives that give credibility and provide motivation to the overall effort.
  •          Make change stick by growing the culture and developing group norms and policies. (Mullins, 2013:718).

An effective change management can be best illustrated during the change management process of J.C.Penny. This organisation was baffled by the authoritarian style of leadership and had practices which hindered the productivity of the employees. Myron E.Ullman initiated a change process in a tactful manner. As a result it was met with far less criticism as supposed to be. The change process proved effective for both the individuals and the organisation as whole. The effective change process steered the company towards more profits. (Purkayastha, 2007).

As illustrated above, change can be brought in effective if it is implemented in the right fashion. Change should be incorporated under proper leadership. From the above example, it can be noted that Ullman adopted participative style of leadership where he took his fellow employees in confidence and brushed aside their fears regarding change. This is the key ingredient for a good leadership which foresees a change. Such type of change even sustains a longer period as it has firm foundations.

Therefore, I say that Leadership plays a vital role in sustain a change. Resisting change is but obvious for any individual or an organisation but it can be ward off through a good leadership style. Understanding the forces behind a resistance and the ways to tackle them is a fundamental aspect when incorporating change. These are the common basics while implementing a change for both an individual and an organisation.



Burnes, B. (2009) Managing Change, 5th edition, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.


D., P. (2007) ICMR, [Online], Available: [2014].


Mullins, L.J. (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour, 10th edition, Harlow: Pearson Education.







6 thoughts on “Managing Change

  1. A very good piece of work on Managing change. you have really drawn a clear argument on this topic. One thing that really struck me is your ability to put your points together, and i really do agree with you on the point that “Understanding the forces behind a resistance and the ways to tackle them is a fundamental aspect when incorporating change”.
    well done.

  2. Thank you Roland. Change can’t be incorporated successfully unless the forces behind the resistance are understood. A proper leader undergoing a change process is the one who is an attentive listener. A leader should make its employees feel the necessity of the change process.

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