The Six (6) Change Approaches of Kotter and Schlesinger is a model to prevent, decrease or minimize resistance to change in organizations.
According to Kotter and Schlesinger (1979), there are 4 reasons that certain people are resisting change:
- Parochial self-interest - some people are concerned with the implication of the change for themselves ad how it may effect their own interests, rather than considering the effects for the success of the business;
- Misunderstanding - communication problems; inadequate information;
- Low tolerance to change - certain people are very keen on security and stability in their work;
- Different assessments of the situation - some employees may disagree on the reasons for the change and on the advantages and disadvantages of the change process.
Kotter and Schlesinger set out the following 6change approaches to deal with this resistance to change:
- Education and Communication: Where there is a lack of information or inaccurate information and analysis. One of the best ways to overcome resistance to change is to educate people about the change effort beforehand. Up-front communication and education helps employees see the logic in the change effort. this reduces unfounded and incorrect rumors concerning the effects of change in the organization.
- Participation and Involvement: Where the initiators do not have all the information they need to design the change and where others have considerable power to resist. When employees are involved in the change effort they are more likely to buy into change rather than resist it. This approach is likely to lower resistance and those who merely acquiesce to change.
- Facilitation and Support: Where people are resisting change due to adjustment problems. Managers can head-off potential resistance by being supportive of employees during difficult times. Managerial support helps employees deal with fear and anxiety during a transition period. The basis of resistance to change is likely to be the perception that there some form of detrimental effect occasioned by the change in the organization. This approach is concerned with provision of special training, counseling, time off work.
- Negotiation and Agreement: Where someone or some group may lose out in a change and where that individual or group has considerable power to resist. Managers can combat resistance by offering incentives to employees not to resist change. This can be done by allowing change resistors to veto elements of change that are threatening, or change resistors can be offered incentives to leave the company through early buyouts or retirements in order to avoid having to experience the change effort. This approach will be appropriate where those resisting change are in a position of power.
- Manipulation and Co-option: Where other tactics will not work or are too expensive. Kotter and Schlesinger suggest that an effective manipulation technique is to co-opt with resisters. Co-option involves the patronizing gesture in bringing a person into a change management planning group for the sake of appearances rather than their substantive contribution. This often involves selecting leaders of the resisters to participate in the change effort. These leaders can be given a symbolic role in decision making without threatening the change effort. Still, if these leaders feel they are being tricked they are likely to push resistance even further than if they were never included in the change effort leadership.
- Explicit and Implicit Coercion: Where speed is essential and to be used only as last resort. Managers can explicitly or implicitly force employees into accepting change by making clear that resisting to change can lead to losing jobs, firing, transferring or not promoting employees.