How can GMs approach employees’ resistance to organisational change?

How can general managers reduce their employees’ resistance towards organisational change within the luxury hospitality industry? This is the question answered by Ms Michelle Mol, Hotelschool The Hague alumna, through her research that focused on understanding what employees’ resistance towards change entails, and how to positively influence the attitude of employees.

Carlson, a privately held global hospitality and travel company based in Minneapolis (USA), is the majority shareholder of Rezidor Hotel Group. Due to rebranding, a newly installed committee, and as they enter the last stages of their 5-year plan, RHG is undergoing major organisational changes. General Managers (GMs) have to implement these changes in their hotels. However, change often leads to fear and resistance from employees. It is crucial to develop a clear understanding of employees’ resistance, as GMs need the support of their teams to successfully implement these changes. If not, the changes might have a negative effect on financial resources, profitability, market share and so on.

In this paper, the approaches of GMs within the luxury hospitality industry, when dealing with their employees’ resistance to organisational change, are explored. Following several recent large-scale mergers within the scope, employees are increasingly resistant to organisational changes. GMs are left steering employees through challenging change processes, often without being fully informed themselves.

The findings suggest diversity both in the GMs communication approaches, which relate to their ownership typology, as well as proximity to the regional office. Additionally, findings show employee emotional and intellectual buy-in as a mechanism for change resistance.

This paper is especially relevant for the hospitality industry, as Dr. Brannon, Ms. Mol’s HTH thesis coach explains: “History shows M&A investments overwhelmingly fail despite the common rhetoric extolling their virtues. To illuminate some of these issues, Ms. Mol explored the M&A of a global hotel chain by focusing on their Belgian properties. Her findings highlighted that despite GMs adopting several different top-down approaches to managing change, successful change requires employee’ buy-in reflecting the urgency for a simultaneous bottom-up approach.

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