When as many as possible of those people involved in a change understand as much as possible about it and its consequences, resistance is likely to be reduced. It is management’s job to develop this understanding. Resistance will be prevented to the degree that the change agent help the change affected people to develop their own understanding of the need for change, and an explicit awareness of how they feel about it and what can be done about their feelings. Such an understanding will occur only when the information provided is sufficient, factual and accurate.
Management can transmit information about a proposed change and its probable consequences to those affected or concerned in a variety of ways. Fundamentally, there are only three practical media for communication; written material, audio-visual and oral. No single means, however, should be relied on exclusively. The more complex the change, the greater will be the possibility. That everyone involved is being reached with maximum of information. Several conditions must be met for understanding to be developed in a changing situation.
- Information must be readily accessible, factual and accurate.
- Information must be communicated in such language or in such a form that is readily understandable.
- Information must answer the questions that are being asked not only what is to happen, but also how, why, when, where and to whom.
- There must be a way to test and conform that real understanding has in fact been achieved.
A lack of understanding can result in heightened anxiety about the possible consequences of change. This, in turn, can result in resistant behavior. In addition, it is likely that, because of this lack, those performing the work will derive less satisfaction from their jobs. This should be of concern to management, particularly during a change. When people do not understand what they are doing, those abilities, which are uniquely human cannot be exercised. These abilities are the application of informed and intelligent judgments to the performance of work. When anyone is deprived of the opportunity to make meaningful judgments, the result is increasing frustration. Not only will both the person and the work suffer, but so also will the organization.