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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

How to Help Employees of Enterprises Undergoing Restructuring to Get a Hold on the World

Frances gradual integration with Europe forces public sector enterprises to not only re-appraise their status, but also to change their way of dealing with the market and relating to their socio-economic environment. The repercussions on the people concerned vary in degree depending on the way in which this change is managed and, more often than not, they have no choice in this matter -- the decision-making process is out of their hands. Faced with decisions they are totally unable to influence, most people feel they are at a distinct disadvantage. Some feel their position has been completely undermined. A fundamental part of the work of any manager is facing the realities of the current business environment. But there is one reality that most managers would gladly avoid and that is seeing the employees suffer. The spectacle of suffering in others leading, as it so often does, to suffering on a personal level. And this suffering is so often seen as simply destructive, when it is also an opportunity for the individual to let go of certain illusions, to face the reality of the world and to take a place in it.In all the traditional texts on change management and restructuring, the suffering of those concerned is called 'resistance to change'. In the typical process of change management, the first stage is to outline the vision of the world to come -this is what has created the need for change in the first place and it is this, which must be the engine, which drives everyone towards the future. It is rare to find a writer who identifies this so-called resistance to change as attachment to the past and to the present which is not yet resolved. The people concerned have no choice, they are immediately called to action, to forget the past and build the future. Those who hold with the traditional style of change management tell us that any resistance can be overcome firstly by communication, and subsequently through involvement and participation (Grouard and Meston, 1998; Glass, 1998). Other writers are more sensitive to the necessary amount of time overcoming resistance requires, referring to 'defrosting' as a way of breaking free of ties with the past (Alain, 1996). It is extremely rare to come across a writer who draws parallels with the stages involved in overcoming grief or suffering and, particularly, the time, which this process must necessarily involve. If some authors point the necessity of reassuring, the way they propose it is generally inefficient. Most of the time they recommend top-down communication.'