Managing resistance to change in the banking industry in Kenya: The case of Equity Bank
The fast-changing global business environment has resulted in organisations having to change their business strategies and processes so as to remain competitive. As organisations implement the changes, they have been experiencing various forms of resistant to change. The resistance has been found to come from both the behaviours of individuals and/or groups of employees who want to protect themselves from the unknown or imagined outcomes of change. The other type of resistance to change is systemic resistance where the development of capability lags behind the strategic development. This arises from lack of appropriate knowledge, information, skills and managerial capacity. Organisations therefore have had to use various methods to minimise resistance to change. This was a case study which covered various forms of resistance to change experienced by Equity Bank and how the bank has been managing the resistance in the course of implementation of strategic change. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data from the respondents and content analysis was used to analyse the data collected. The findings indicate that there was both systemic and behavioural resistance experienced by Equity bank in the course of implementation of strategic changes. The behavioural resistant to change included, both individual and group resistance to change by various employees. The employees feared loss of jobs as they -imagined that the bank would undergo retrenchment during the turnaround in 1993 and during the change into a bank in 2004. They also did not understand why the institution wanted to change to a bank at the time. The systemic resistance to change included lack of necessary skills to implement the intended changes; lack of capital; lack of strategic change leaders and the prevailing unfavourable economic conditions that created negative forces of change. The findings indicate that Equity Bank managed to overcome these resistances and has now become a bank to recon with. Findings show that the bank used the structure tree tool which considered the human capital as a key element in successful implementation of strategic changes in the Bank. On behavioural resistance, the tool was used to enhance employees' participation and to impart knowledge hence reinforcing the acquired change. This helped in reducing resistance to change to minimum and create excitement on the part of employees and customers as they embraced change. The findings indicate that systemic resistance was overcome by incoming of strategic change agent and a strong change leader. Financial assistance from the donors like DFID and UNDP provided the necessary capital for change. According to the responses provided, there were other sources of financial assistance that came for the new bank directors as well as share capital from employees who purchased shares from the bank. As a result, the bank has in the recent past experienced tremendous growth in profitability and customer base. It was recommended that the bank needs to sustain the employees and customers excitement otherwise the current growth momentum may not be sustainable. Further research can be conducted on the impact of the model used to manage resistance to change amongst employees and customers. A similar study can also be performed in another bank.