Overcoming barriers to change
A Corus case study

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Page 3: Barriers to change

Change may challenge peoples' abilities, experience, customs and practice. It may even be seen as a threat. This can create resistance or barriers to change. For example, if job roles are changed, employees and managers may feel that they lose status or power. If jobs are cut, remaining employees may feel insecure. This can cause low morale and lead to poor productivity.

Although Corus Strip Products as a company supported the principles of change and innovation, not all previous programmes had delivered the required results.

Culture issues

Corus is an established business in a traditional industry. This meant that it had set patterns of doing things in some areas of the business. This attitude of 'this is the way we do things around here' made it more difficult to make necessary changes.

Some Corus employees had a fear of the unknown and saw new initiatives as a possible threat to their existing teams and positions. Job reductions had been a major theme in the steel industry since the 1970s and some of Corus' previous change initiatives had led to job cuts. Other people did not see a threat to their job because the business had previously survived difficult times. This complacency made change difficult for Corus.  

Workforce issues

Another issue facing Corus was its ageing workforce. There is a considerable degree of  expertise in the company and long-term high rewards kept people within the industry. Older employees with high technical skills stayed because these skills were not easily transferable. Fewer young people were attracted to the industry because of reduced job opportunities and reductions in apprenticeship schemes across the UK.

The company also had a history of rewarding 'long service' rather than 'distinguished service'. This means that employees who had been with the company a long time (but who had lower productivity) could be gaining greater rewards than newer employees who were producing more. Corus felt that this was an area that needed major change so that those employees with higher output were suitably rewarded.

Corus | Overcoming barriers to change