Investigating Emotional Resistance To Organizational Change: A Descriptive Qualitative Research Study Of Local Television Newsroom Leaders
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A factor contributing to failed change initiatives in organizations is emotional resistance from change recipients. If overlooked, emotional resistance can impede changes for an organization’s survival (Bateh, Castaneda, & Farah, 2013). Some employees are unwilling to adapt for leaders they do not trust, when changes are too abrupt, or if they feel the changes will threaten their livelihoods. The purpose of this study was to understand how leaders identify emotional resistance in workers and what leaders are doing to address this problem in their organizations. Leaders in organizations across the United States are under increased pressure to meet new market demands, yet they find a great deal of emotional resistance from the people they need to carry out new strategies to remain afloat (Benson, 2014). Research on the implications for leaders who do not tend to emotionally resistant employees is scarce; however, new insights on addressing emotional resistance can help leaders cultivate this skill (Wang, 2015). Consequently, the aim of this study of television newsrooms was to add to the existing literature on emotional resistance to change while providing recommendations on meeting this challenge. The study was designed to use descriptive qualitative research methods, specifically in-depth interviews with newsroom leaders. Data analysis was performed using pattern matching techniques, which revealed that the most common forms of emotional resistance were frustration, fear, distrust, and shock. The leading sources of emotional resistance were change burnout and fear of failure. The main strategies leaders used to counter emotional resistance were to allow workers to express their emotions constructively and to communicate effectively with stakeholders. Recommendations for leaders include embracing emotional resistance and utilizing transition tools. Focusing on resistance across different generational groups and examining the best leadership styles for addressing the personal impact of change are recommendations for future research.
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