Resistance and Communication in Target Corporation

Resistance and Communication in Target Corporation


In today’s tumultuous environment, change has become part of standard business practice; every business organization has to embrace change to remain competitive. Consequently, an efficient communication system is essential for change to be implemented successfully as it is a tool used for announcing oncoming changes and explaining to members of the organization the effects (both negative and positive) of implementing the change.

Implementing change is not always successful; it is, therefore, important to understand how resistance to change works and where it emerges from. This paper will analyze the level of resistance in Target Corporation and suggest an effective communication plan.


In early 2016, Target Corporation was ranked among the largest retail stores in the US; it had close to 2,000 merchandise stores and a good public image of being stylish and elegant (Robinson, 2016). However, during the 2008 financial recession, Target’s profitability declined mainly due to the allocation of more space to groceries with low-profit margins. After the recession, Target had to embrace change; the management had to choose between reducing or eliminating the grocery sections and offering a broader variety of household goods and clothes (Robinson, 2016).

The above illustration is an example of a scenario whereby embracing and accepting change is vital for the survival of a business. However, this is easier said than done. Change is typically met with a lot of resistance from the existing system; human beings are programmed to enjoy comfort and resist any disruptions. They will always analyze the benefits and shortcomings of the forthcoming changes; will the change make their lives better? Or, will the changes worsen their lives (Tanner, 2018)? The main reasons for this resistance include:

  1. Loss of job security and status: Naturally, we do not accept changes that we deem as harmful to our current situations (Tanner, 2018). Managers and employees in an organization will resist any change that results in the elimination or reduction of their roles (Tanner, 2018). Target’s decision to eliminate or scale down the grocery business meant that the grocery attendants would lose their jobs or be transferred to other departments. Such change is sure to be met with resistance, and thoughtful strategies are needed to minimize the resistance.
  2. Fear of the unknown: Effective change requires elaborate communication on all aspects of the forthcoming change. This approach helps in dispelling fear and uncertainties among the members of the organization affected by the change. The little the employees know concerning the imminent change and its effects, the more uncertain and afraid they will be (Tanner, 2018). If effective communication is not embraced, rumors and baseless information circulates in the organization and sabotage to change may arise (Tanner, 2018).
  3. Lousy implementation approaches: Resistance to change may be caused by the implementation strategies of the change. Using insensitive and untimely approaches will guarantee resistance from the staff (Tanner, 2018). Members of the organization may be open to the changes, but they may disagree with how you make the changes.

Potential Changes and the Corresponding Resistance.

Target Corporation, have experienced interruptions in its supply chain due to vendors failing to deliver merchandise due to financial setbacks and other reasons. If the management does not effect change to curb this, the supply chain could run out of stock and consequently loose sales (Target Annual Report, 2013). To adequately address this, the organization have to revisit the contracts between them and the vendors; more stringent measures should be put in place for vendors who breach the terms and conditions of the contracts irrespective of the underlying reasons. Although this approach is tough on the vendors and will experience some resistance, the chain would be guaranteed of consistent delivery of merchandise.

The onset of the digital era some years ago brought with it some challenges for Target Corporation. The business changed from in-store shopping to interacting with clients via multiple digitalized channels such as social media platforms, mobile devices, and online shopping platforms (Target Annual Report, 2013). Staff members of the organization are therefore required to adapt to the new market demands, and such change needs the staff members to take classes in computer systems management. However, the older generations might resist this change. They may consider going back to classes as an effort which is way beyond their years.


Communication is important during the change process. Informing the affected persons in advance is one of the most recommended approaches to handle resistance from employees (Yang, 2014). Most employees prefer to have their workplace predictable, and thus, the management should ensure that they give them sufficient information concerning the change. Effective communication can reduce confusion, anxiety, and resistance from the employees before rumors and falsified news spreads out in the whole organization (Yang, 2014).

Communication Strategies.

This paper will analyze three communication strategies that can be used to minimize resistance to change: (1) Monologic Communication. (2) Dialogic Communication. (3) Developmental communication. Monologic communication emphasizes on a top to down flow of information about a change in the organization (Simoes, 2017). This approach usually relies on activities such as meetings, presentations, newsletters, memos, media channels, brochures, and informal meetings and discussions. According to Simoes (2017), informal group meetings and discussions are the most regularly used channels of passing information about imminent change in an organization. The dialogic communication strategy gathers feedback and input, and thus it encourages events such as open discussions, brainstorming sessions, casual conversations, and working groups such as committees and task forces (Simoes, 2017). The participation of all parties involved characterizes these approaches and allow the flow of ideas and messages in all directions. Lastly, development communication describes the systematic use of strategies and principles of communication that bring positive change and outcome (Masuku, Chitsika & Moyo, 2014). In the organizational set-up, this approach can be applied to establish a conducive environment for change implementation and to induce positive feedback and social change (Masuku, Chitsika & Moyo, 2014).

In the case of Target Corporation, the change would be taken more positively if the dialogic communication strategy is employed. This approach directly engages all employees involved, and this ensures that all information is fully disseminated and clarifications and doubts are addressed. By providing all the necessary information regarding organizational change, resistance is kept at a minimum and employees’ fears, and uncertainties are resolved and dispelled.

Communication Plan for Organizational Change.

            With a good communication plan in place, the management of an organization will be in an excellent position to announce changes and consequently deal with any resistance. The five main features of a good communication plan include:

  1. Analysis of the audience: One should be aware of the crucial aspects of the audience that need to be addressed concerning the forthcoming changes. It is also vital to analyze the reactions of the audience to know whether they took the change positively or negatively (Newman, 2016).
  2. Communication channels: Choosing the most effective communication channel depends on factors such as relationships between the management and employees and the need for interactivity (Newman, 2016).
  3. Objectives of communication: Communication objectives should state what all parties involved are required to know.
  4. Timing: A well-constructed communication plan should be well timed. As an illustration, employees should know about company news before being released to the media (Newman, 2016).


 Resistance to change from some employees and stakeholders is inevitable even with the best communication strategies. However, a well-planned change management plan will get things right; in addition to this, effective communication to all members of the organization helps in minimizing resistance to change.


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