Organizational change is undertaken to improve the performance of the organization or part of the organization (McNamara, 2011). This change happens when an organization revises its strategy for success, creates or abolishes departments and processes. The change is hard to effect because it is like changing the habits of a human being, it’s a process that takes time and human will to undertake and do so successfully. Of course, just like in people, in organizations there is also the risk of reverting back to old habits that no longer serve the organization. The upside is that there exists a lot of research and experience through people to effectively handle such pressures. Managers are by nature expected to know how to handle change and to help their organizations adopt new policies, processes and personnel. Consultancy organizations and individuals have also moved into this niche area in a bid to fill the need that exists. This is because regardless of how many books a manager reads on this topic, there is no standard procedure for effecting change. There are many approaches to guiding change -some planned, structured and explicit, while others are more organic, unfolding and implicit (McNamara, 2011).
In recent years, encompassed by the global economic changes, cost pressures and other changes in the economic and technological environment have generated the introduction of innovations in the sale force of many organizations. It is imperative to note that managements bent of bringing about transformation in the market industry are most likely to face challenges. They will have to address a number of emerging issues, which may at times be faced with inadequate resources and unclear resolutions. It is therefore wise for this type of management to categorize the way forward in basic segments. Many will agree that in most organizations, the lacking factor may not necessarily be money, but it is the duration (time) with which to bring about this transformational change. Transformational change may also be hindered with natural forces that interfere with allocation of resources within an organization. This may lead to a trap that may eventually bring down the company. Furthermore the senior management and the leadership hierarchy need to be actively engaged so as to overcome the hurdles inhibiting transformation. Another factor that hinders transformation change is that they should not give room for chaos to take control of this exercise.
Transformation will also entail a complete turn around from the daily routine of the company. This means that there are something’s that will experience change. The normal operation of an organization will definitely be affected by this transformation. The bottom line is that change has to happen, whether the organization goes at it willingly or is forced by circumstances. Change can be taken proactively or reactively, planned or unplanned, can be evolutionary or revolutionary, and can be developmental or transformational. However change comes, it will come, rest assured of it.
Change – any change – may be perceived as disruptive and potentially dangerous as the status quo becomes unstable (Mackenzie, 2008). Organizations are dynamic in that they keep changing and continue to evolve in time at all stages whether they are starting out or have a global reach. Major changes come around almost every three years while smaller changes are more constant. One of the major reasons that organizations find themselves effecting change is environmental pressures. These are factors from the outside that companies have no control over. The first factor that brings about change is drastic changes in the economic condition of the market that the company is operating in. a good example is when the global financial crisis affected markets worldwide. Many companies had to lay off employees, close down factories and cut down on spending. Some employees were even asked to take cuts in their salaries. All these factors that have been brought on by a downward trend in the economy call upon the management to help their staff to cope with the changes. Likewise, when the economy is suddenly doing well where it was previously unexpected, then the managers will have to position their organizations to take advantage of the good fortunes. In a manufacturing firm, this might mean that workers take on more shifts to meet demand or contract workers are brought onboard to increase capacity.
Another factor that would influence change is political unrest. This is crucial for companies that operate in politically volatile regions where you can be in business one month and close down operations abruptly. Another external factor is a change in legislation or an introduction of new laws that requires the restructuring of company’s processes to meet the requirements of such laws. Competition is always trying to increase its market share and this might in turn mean a reduction in market share for our company. A good example is where the competition cuts prices due to their efficiencies or a reduction in their costs through adoption of newer processes. These changes in competitor’s camp will always necessitate a similar change in our organization for us to still be competitive.
The world is changing so fast and this is mostly due to advances in technology. Technology is the backbone of almost every organization today and thus there is a constant need to always be on top of it. This is because as the technology improves, it makes processes faster and cheaper and this in turn reduces the cost of production for organizations. Employees usually have to learn new ways of doing the same things and this portends major effort on the human resources departments.
Organizations that rely heavily on outside funding like Non-Governmental Organizations are undoubtedly required to respond with lightning speed to cuts in funding for them to continue to exist and carry out their objectives. Then there is that period when a profit making organization needs to reverse major loss making streaks. At such a time, managers are hard pressed to turn the situation around because they are answerable to their investors.
We have identified that Changes in the social, political, economic, technological, and global environments can then have a dramatic effect on any organization (Covell, Walker & Siciliano 2007 pg. 201). Once the factors influencing change have been identified, let’s look at the requirements for effecting organizational change successfully. These factors in a nutshell are; being able to motivate change, working around office politics, effecting a smooth transition, articulating a clear vision, and sustaining the momentum of change that has been achieved.
Let’s start with motivating change. This is about creating an atmosphere of readiness for change in the organization so that people aren’t surprised and go into shock mode where they can easily resist the change. The major areas to cover are creating awareness about the need for that change, explaining the current status of the organization and future plans and the approaches as to how to effect the change. Once this is done, the management needs to anticipate and respond to the concerns of the employees so that they will not resist the proposed change. Employees will respond far better if they feel they are being heard and that the approaches to change take into consideration their input. People resist change because of uncertainty, real or perceived lack or inadequate capacity to handle the change and also how it will affect their job security.
Secondly, managers must express clearly a vision that shows what the change that is being introduced is meant to achieve. An organization’s vision is expressed through overall outcomes that are then delegated to various departments within the organization. The vision is then broken down into bite-sized goals and objectives. Employees will be crucial in undertaking the everyday activities that over the long run will work towards achieving that vision and thus they need to understand the change strategy. They need to believe in the vision and its relevance to the goals of an organization. The vision also needs to be realistic enough yet promising hope for the future.
The third element that will ensure the successful implementation of change is considering office politics and power relations between employees and other employees and also between employees and management. Office politics is about power, power to get the resources and influence that is necessary for every employee to carry out their job successfully. Power also determines who gets to be promoted or even fired. This power is often shifted around during periods of change and thus there will be those who want to hold on to the power they have and those who will want to acquire power that they don’t have. Effectively managing these power struggles in the face of change can mean the success or failure of any change strategy. Making sure that key power players agree with and drum for the change will greatly influence their followers. Likewise, any concerns raised by these power players should be resolved before the change is taken on to the company floor.
Fourthly, managing transition is another key element to effectively implement action plans that take the organization from the present to the future. These action plans may include creating new structures and processes or changing existing ones. Continuous training and implementation of new policies and procedures may be required along with ongoing communication to remind people of the need for the change and how far along the implementation has gone and still has to go.
Lastly, the hardest part in a change cycle is sustaining momentum. Fires start blazing high but without adding firewood, even the strongest fire will eventually die out. Employees need ongoing support through resources and training. It is also important to evaluate progress, process and implement feedback, award excellence and also rectify mistakes and shortcomings.
As an organization grows from a solo proprietorship into a larger organization, it finds itself needing more resources, employees and systems to be put in place so that when the leader is away, the organization can still function. This is the stage when an organization stops being a briefcase organization where it’s difficult to distinguish between the owner and the business because they are both one. If the owner does not plan ahead for this growth, he risks being caught in the founder’s trap.
Unplanned change like emergencies force an organization to suddenly react to situations and thus such a response is usually a firefighting measure. Such changes may then necessitate a change in the processes to prevent a repeat occurrence if it was a disaster. This type of change may cause an organization to be alert in case such an occurrence may attack in the future. This generates the notion of members having to think differently in order to act.
Planned change on the other hand is anticipated and the only requirement for the management is to ease their staff into the new environment with minimal resistance. This usually involves implementing a strategic plan for change that would have been agreed to earlier. Planned changed tries to change the organizations mindset that have been in offing over the years. This is easily achieved by a continual vigorous training of members towards change. This should not as well omit room for the members to act in different ways and experience for themselves how transformational difference can be realized.
Radical change is effected when an organization wants to regain a competitive advantage that had been lost or threatened by a rival organization. This type of change depends on the capacity of the organization, its management’s experience and the environment it is in. Radical change meets the competitors with a bang in that it add a new level of competition into the market.
This is the most intimidating type and most resisted because it is likely to create uncertainty within an organization. It usually involves overhauling existing processes, products or technology to keep up to date or in response to an overwhelming rejection of products by consumers.
This is harmonious change because it involves building on existing successes by increasing market share, expanding a product’s range. It is well received within an organization because it is an acknowledgement that the workers are really doing a good job. This creates an emerging analysis of opening new market expectations. Development change generates a progressive form of personal input because some profitable development is being experienced in the organization.
When an organization is faced with drastic changes in supply and demand, different technologies, unexpected competition or reduction in revenue, it must transform itself to adapt. The transformation may include re-engineering, restructuring, downsizing or a consolidation. The organization’s mission, strategy, its leadership and organizational culture are usually not spared through the change.
Mergers, acquisitions, the creation of new products, and new technologies are what form this type of change. It is the replacement of an existing process with one that is new. This type of change is closely similar to transformational change.
Improving on capacities within an organization in a bid to improve what an organization is already doing falls under strategy deployment. In this case, an organization is able to review its mission statement and objectives in order to conceptualize the rising demand in the market. Strategies may as well be reviewed in the wake of competition in the market. An organization will affect new strategy to cope with a new entrance in the market who is offering the same products as the organization.
This is concerned with rearranging different units within an organization or its human resource. Downsizing can be a reduction in the number of staff on payroll or selling off a particular wing of the business so that it becomes smaller. Restructuring an organization helps it in incurring some financial benefit in its favour.
This type of change is surgical in nature in that it targets a specific employee or process. Once a solution is found, then the remedy is applied to effect the change.
This is the slowest form of change because it involves setting the long term direction that the company will take, delegating responsibilities, and establishing deadline for achieving set out objectives.
Revolutionary change is the opposite of evolutionary change because it deals with real-time urgency in the market through abrupt and often disruptive changes like downsizing or re-engineering. This case is basically being experienced in the industry due to the global financial meltdown that has affected several organizations.
When a potential threat is expected in the future or potential opportunity, then an organization actively makes changes to the work environment and its practices to either avoid walking into the threat or take full advantage of the expected opportunity. This can be noted in the case when an organization that offers the same product offers to enter the market in due time from another location. This will lead to proactive change which includes changing the product or all together making improved quality of the product.
This is the direct opposite of proactive change because it happens when a threat or opportunity is already in the present and the company wasn’t prepared for it. It is not an easy task in organizations in experiencing change. This may be experienced by powerful internal forces, processes, prioritization schemes and the personnel themselves. Reactive change can easily be established by creating adequate creational space.
Successful organizational change requires that either the change be designed to fit the organization’s current structure and culture or that the organizational structure and culture be reshaped to fit the demands of the change. As far as culture is concerned, there are three factors that to some extent determine the behaviour of a person in an organization. These are national culture, occupational culture and organizational culture. National culture is the set of values learnt during childhood mostly from family and remain almost constant throughout one’s life. Occupational culture is learnt from school and professional training and comprises both values and common practices. Organizational culture is the shared norms and common practices which are learnt in the workplace and are only relevant within that organization.
Structure is the integrating framework for organizational activities. An efficient alignment of structure and culture creates an atmosphere where people can work together to achieve the goals and vision of an organization. When they work in tandem, structure and culture help organizations and employees to minimize that feeling of uncertainty, variability and ambiguity and thus create an environment where everything works in a consistent manner. Change is good at exposing the areas in the organizational structure that are weak and unable to cope effectively and thus may need to be strengthened.
When people work in an organization for a period, the acquire a set of norms and expectations regarding what is expected from them, what is praised and what is not condoned. The functions of organizational structure and culture are overlapping but none can be substituted for another as both are imperative to the smooth running of an organization.
In order to manage change, the manager has to make the organization accept, understand and execute the change. Change is often motivated by a need to reduce costs and when properly implemented, it will reduce inefficiency and maintain productivity. And when done successfully, employees will not dread the next time change is proposed. Some changes should allow an individual to be given room to expand his or her own opinion, this may not necessarily mean lack of appreciating other ideas.
Change is difficult to effect even on a personal level, now imagine how much more difficult it would be to effect it in a whole organization. Change offsets the balance and messes with the status quo and nobody wants to be uprooted from familiar habits. Many people may think that everything is fine just as it is and thus there is no need for change. Organizational change will more often than not be going against values held dearest by employees and is going against how they believe things should be done.
The first mistake that most managers make is forgetting the human dimension in effecting change. Organizations rarely change its people who do. This is the reason why 60-75% of all change-oriented strategies fail, due to a failure to focus on the impact that the change will have on employees and failing to create ways of helping them cope with the changes.
The second mistake is not realizing that employees have different reactions to change. Some people are quicker at adopting and adapting to accommodate change and thus it’s the role of managers to pick out and encourage these people so that they may set an example and help their colleagues ease into the change. Often, employees will agree with a colleague but disagree with the manager on the same exact point.
Change–adept professionals build greater resilience and not only survive, but flourish in changing times (Saxena 2009 pg. 147). These people are generally more confident, self-motivated and willing to take risks. They see the opportunity for growth, adventure and challenge in change. They don’t try to brace themselves for change rather they learn to roll with it because they may be called to change right in the middle of change. Change-adept employees also have ways of letting off steam by creating balance in their lives. They may be involved in exercise programs, hobbies or side interests and have an emotional support system away from just their work. They are generally more creative and have not been programmed to fit in but rather stand out from the crowd.
The next reason why change is resisted is that the managers lack emotional literacy and disregard the emotional reactions triggered by large-scale organizational change. These emotional reactions may include denial and negativity. Managing people through change is not a rational process, but one that relies on emotional and intuitive intelligence on the part of leaders (Holbeche, 2006 pg. 70). When communicating with employees regarding change, managers need to be open and honest and this goes beyond just telling the truth. Employees need to share in the opportunities, risks, mistakes, potentials and failures and then work together on these challenges, this way they will feel included and as part of the organization at its very core.
Change is often resisted because employees have not been properly prepared for the change by being given the appropriate information about important aspects like the financial state of the organization and how their actions impact that state. They need to know the organization’s vision, goals and strategy along supporting information about economic, demographic, global, technological and industry trends and how these affect fit into the proposed change. Change teams need to understand, prepare for, and manage resistance to change (Banhegyi, 2007 pg. 267)
Earlier on we looked at transformational change and developmental change and realized that developmental change is gradual and improves on the good aspects whilst transformational change is a redefinition of the processes and resources of an organization. These two types of change are exact opposites of each other and managers often make the mistake of employing the same strategies to manage both types of change.
A new reality is dawning in organizations where we see an inclination towards sharing both risks and profits of doing business. Large organizations are rapidly moving away from a paternalistic management philosophy toward one that is characterized by the notions of employer-employee partnership (Sicker, 2002, pg. 75). In this type of organization, employees have a larger stake in the company and thus are more willing to go to greater lengths to pursue new ideas, services, markets and products because it ultimately means more for them. This type of arrangement greatly reduces resistance to change as employees will be acting in their overall best interests by adopting the change.
Change is also resisted if the management preaches water and drink wine. It is good to communicate through speeches, memos and newsletters but the most effective form of communicating change is for management to also practice what they preach. This way they are setting a perfect example of leading by example.
Perhaps what is the worst mistake to make is to underestimate the potential of employees. And when we underestimate human potential, we waste it (Saxena 2009, pg. 151). If a company is to do more than just survive through change, it needs its employees utilizing all their talents. When encouraged and empowered, employees will often astound you.
Change is an ever-present and powerful force in today’s fast–paced world (Sims & Quatro 2005, pg. 98) Change has largely been said to be the only thing that stays constant throughout life. Thus finding ways of anticipating, planning, executing, managing, evaluating and sustaining change is a crucial requirement for any manager. Organizations need to constantly change to be competitive in today’s fast paced world. There are new technologies in the market every year that promise efficiency and being left behind will only mean that your organization is incurring more cost from outdated technology. There is also the element of personnel coming and going from an organization and this type of change still has to be managed by someone.
The factors that influence change have also been explored and analyzed from different angles to provide an in depth understanding of these factors. We have also looked at the various types of change an organization may expect to encounter right from the point it starts with a sole proprietor to being a multi-national corporation. We have also looked at how change affects individuals within an organization and ways to manage the change smoothly. A huge thorn in management’s tasks when implementing change is a resistance to the change. We have explored the various mistakes that managers make when it comes to helping their employees cope effectively with change.
If change is managed properly and effectively, then employees will come out of it with a positive mentality and will thus not dread the next time they have to undergo another phase of change. The biggest lesson we have learnt is that organizations don’t change, rather it’s the people in these organizations that change. This should then be the focus of managers when planning for change. They should have the emotional intelligence to clearly understand the emotional reactions that are expected from their employees and how to alley any fears that they may have.
Real change to be realized, the management should therefore be composed with individuals who are ready to keep up faith despite the obstacles. For something to be brought up in the right perspective, will mean there need to be multiple challenges. These lessons are better learnt by an organization taking survey from the inn sights research. Consideration will also entail managements need to be focusing on a vision. If the senior management is not being led by a resourceful person, then the landing may most likely be negative. They need to ensure that they have a very senior challenger aiming to be champion. The human resource personnel should be properly focused to ensure quality production in the field of transformation. An organization may posses great technological equipment but this is of no use should there be lack of resource allocation.
Transformation is therefore likely to take a bit of sometime and members should not be in a position to expect instant results. This is because the amount of effort being placed in transformation will be so huge and so instant results should be expected. The notion of success within a short duration of time is farfetched and misleading. Cultural dimensions should also be taken into consideration, with the management working on tangible segments in order to generate these changes. Further to this, organizations should develop training modules that facilitate a common language and critical skills and programming innovation sessions with a dynamic group of managers. This can be an essential setting point towards achieving the transformational dream.
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