• What are some of the major challenges when trying to manage change in organisations?
• What are some of the current theories on change management?
• How can current change management theories be applied to support organisations?
The global business landscape is filled with several organizations belonging to several organizational structures, business models and industry types. Organizations have abundant presence and are essential ingredient of the economy. Globalization and opening up of the economies have resulted in several functional, cultural, regulatory and technical changes in the operational aspects of several companies. These mentioned changes have even affected the business functioning and objectives of the several organizations (Dawson, 1994). Management of these Organizations has minimal option left, but to change with the changing times. Change for survival and change for progress is what the modern organizations are turning to.
The twenty first century has made it necessary for the modern organizations belonging to this technology age, to be prepared for and embrace the concept of change management. This concept of change management has indeed attracted much of relevance in the modern age. There have been several studies and theories on this concept, and most of the researchers have suggested that the future survival of the modern organizations would be significantly dependent on the ability of these organizations to successfully embrace change in their Organizational functioning that would be triggered by the changes in the internal and external environment of these modern organizations (Coetzee et al., 2012). Several of the researches have also directed that the rate, in which the organizations would have to adapt changes in its structure and operations, would be increasing significantly in the near future (Dunphy, 1996). The rising competition in the global market and saturation of the buyer’s market phenomena, are the key indices, triggering the increased rate of changes in the external markets of these organizations.
The concept of Change management
The concept of change is closely related to adoption of new state of things that are different from the old state of things. The changes desired in the modern organizations, covers much larger field including the probable changes desired in servicing the new age customers, adapting to newer technologies of production, updating logistics and supply chain operations, etc. The change management in the organizations can be described as the process of continuously reviving an organization’s structure, direction, objectives or capabilities in response to the dynamic external environment, as well as in response to the demands of the internal customers (Robbins et al., 2014). Managing change in a successful manner is an ongoing and continuous process that involves the combination of science as well as art. This process of organizational change requires the adequate alignment of Organizational structures, processes and strategies to adapt the necessary and desired changes. Several organizations of modern age are opting for change management techniques to survive and prosper in the today’s competitive business world. These organizations are streamlining their Business operations to become more responsive and nimble to the external demands of the stakeholders of the organization, mainly the consumers (Senior, 2002). Many of the scholars and researchers have researched on the topic of the organizational change management and have broadly come up with two clear classifications of the types of changes that the organizations undergo (Paton and McCalman, 2000):
a. Evolutionary changes (Gradual Changes, changes of 1st degree or incremental changes)
This is generally a continuous change in the small order. These changes generally use dominant type of management to obtain stable growth and remain grounded in the markets. E.g.- Pizza Restaurants introducing newer variety of Pizzas every quarter, to adapt to the changing tastes and preferences of the consumers.
b. Revolutionary changes (Transformational changes, changes of 2nd degree, Frame changes or dramatic changes)
These changes are generally strategic in nature, altering the structures, power, control and orders of an Organization. These changes are also referred to as extreme changes.
E.g.- Wal-Mart expanding its business in Asia-pacific Region, by tying up with the local players in the respective countries for expanding its consumer base.
The Rising relevance of change management in modern organizations
The concept of change management has become highly popular in the twenty first century, and several of the Organizations are following this bandwagon to remain competitive and successful in the markets. The change is thus an ever-present feature of the organizational life at both operational as well as strategic level. However, with the economies opening up and world markets coming closer, the intensity and frequency of these need for changes has highly increased. Several of the environmental factors, such as political factors, socio-economic factors, cultural influences as well as the technology changes across the world, are forcing these modern organizations to stay up to date. Therefore the relevance of the concept of change management has highly increased in the modern age (twenty first century).
Modern Organizations are slowly shedding the age old organizational ideologies and practices, and have become more practical and result oriented. Most of these Organizations have started involving their staff members in the strategic and key decision making processes, making the decisions more viable and practical. Most of the Organizations have also started valuing performance over time and have started making concurrent changes in their respective organizational HR polices (Robbins et al., 2014).
The HR landscape has also complicated with several individuals from diverse backgrounds working as a team in the organization. These are resulting in the several cross-cultural management challenges that have to be dealt with careful changes in the policies and procedures of the Human resources management function of the modern organizations.
The Technology is another buzz word that is facilitating several changes in the way the organizations functions. The modern Organizations have to be alert and quick in adapting to the latest technologies in the respective segment competencies. These organizations have to react and quickly install latest technology in their products and offerings, before the competitor organizations react. Otherwise the Organization poses a huge risk of customer dissatisfaction (Thurlow, 2009).
The modern Organizations also have to with stand the cyclical ups and downs of the economic conditions of the Business and have to make immediate corresponding changes in the budgets and cost centers of their departmental operations (Coetzee et al., 2012).
Theories of Organizational Change
Let us discuss some significant theory models in the context of managing the Organizational change:
a. The Analytical model belonging to Harold Leavitt revolves around a specific theory. According to this researcher, every organization is comprised of a multi variant structure that has the following four important variables:
• Structure • Players • Technology • Goal
These variables would represent for the desired changes in the organizational functioning. These variables are interdependent at the core of the model. Thus changes in any one of the variables would result in modification effect on the other variables in this theory model (Thurlow and Mills, 2009).
b. The Analytical model of change management by Kurt Lewin stated that change occurred when the forces that supported the organizational system’s stable behavior, are been modified. This researcher suggested altering the stability forces, one maintaining the status quo in the organizations. This would help in less resistance to change from the employees, rather than strengthening the pro-change forces (Paton and McCalman, 2000). According to this researcher, the process of change unfolds in three stages
• Unfreezing- Minimizing the force that maintains the system’s behavior at the current level.
• Change proper- this step is about altering the organizational behavior through development of new behaviors, values and attitudes throughout the change of structures and processes.
• Refreezing- this refers to stabilizing the new stage the organization is in, that would reinforce newly introduced elements that may be accomplished by changes in Organizational cultures, policies, norms and structures.
These three stages of process change model are highly broad and dispersed and tries to analyze the change theoretically.
How change management benefits the Organizations
Most of the organizational changes are intentional and planned that are introduced by the top management team of the modern organizations for varied number of reasons ranging from pressures to strategy changes to the overall organizational development (Atman and Iles, 1998).
When change management is introduced in an Organization, it is implemented through one or more of the following areas:
3. Organization structure
4. Job roles
These are numerous methods and tools that facilitate change management in the organizations. All of them reacting to problems or opportunities an organization are facing according to the internal or external stimuli of these organizations. The change is indeed desired for survival, growth, and prosperity of the organizations (Dunphy, 1996). And there have been several instances in the past that have seen the change management initiatives benefit the organizations in immense scale. The following are the prominent benefits acquired by the organizations on successful implementation of the change management practices (Graetz and Smith, 2010):
• Improvisation of the overall organizational outcomes by increasing the work efficiency of the management and the staff, involved in the operational process of the organization.
• Building strong interdepartmental synergies
• Alignment of the broader organization goals with each of its business segments
• Improvisation of the product as well as service quality of the offerings of the organization
• Enhancing overall employee satisfaction due to effective changes in employee engagement practices.
• Achieving higher return on investments for the organization
• Improvement in the overall efficiency of the organization.
The Challenges faced by Organizations in the process
Planning and managing the entire change management process especially in context of cultural and technological changes in the organization, is quiet a challenging task for the new age managers, who are expected to instantly respond to the environmental changes in the business (Balogun and Hope, 2004). Getting in to the management shoes, this process begins with diagnosing the key reasons for changes, and proceeds with making a schedule and proposal for smooth structuring of this change management program. A well researched and well analyzed proposal is extremely essential for promoting a smooth transition (desired change) in the organizations (Dawson, 1994). Several of the functional dimensions that are interrelated to each other have also to be considered. The Extent of planning for devising step by step change solutions, the estimation of the degree of changes desired in identified areas of the organizational operations, the key targets of change, etc, are the dimensions that require keen attention of the management of these modern organizations. This is quite a challenging process for the modern aged institutions and is filled with several challenges. The following are the key challenges encountered by the organizations in the change management process (Fuda, 2013):
• Resistance from the employees and the staff members for implementation of the desired change management procedures
• Resignations of the valued personnel and key human resources of the organization, resulting in to a resource crunch
• Delay in the scheduling of the critical projects
• Low employee confidence on the job, reflected in low employee performance
• Confusion reflected on the stakeholders, for changes in the organization
• Decline in the overall organizational productivity
The following are the few measures that the management of the organization can implement for handling the above challenges (Robbins et al., 2012):
• Enabling Active Involvement of employees and the staff members (even the grass root level employees) in the key decision making processes that are related to the organizational change management
• Reaching out effectively and maintaining clear communication with the stake holders through emails and periodic meetings for updating the progress of the organizations towards the desired change management area.
• Recruitment of ambitious new personnel that would support and accept the changed organizational procedures
• Maintain effective and timely delivery of work schedules, by keeping the employees motivated
The organizational changes are strategic imperative in the today’s globalised business world. Most of the organizations are keen on implementing the latest and the most sought out ideas, in their business operations in a fast paced manner. The Organizations are developing at a fast pace and have to compete in a fierce competitive business market of the twenty-first century, to survive the competitive. Change is thus inevitable for these organizations. They have constantly upgraded their operations and business methods with the changing facets of the internal and external environmental variables. Managing change in a positive manner, involving all the stakeholders, and presenting a clear picture before them at every juncture of change, is very important for successful implementation of the change management process in the organizations. The organizations must present the entire change plan as win-win to its stakeholders (especially employees) to gain their utmost support thought out the process.
• Atman, Y. and Iles, P., 1998, Learning, leadership, teams: corporate learning and organizational change, Journal of Management Development, 17(1), pp 44-55.
• Balogun, J. and Hope Hailey, V., 2004, Exploring Strategic Change, 2nd edition, London: Prentice Hall.
• Christopher G., Worley and Yvonne, 2010, Leading and Managing Change, Graziadio Business Review, Retrieved on January 31, 2015, from https://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/leading-and-managing-change/
• Coetzee Rein, Visagie Jan and Ukpere Wilfred, 2012, leading a successful change intervention in a modern organization: Key elements to consider, African Journal of Business Management Vol. 6(51), pp. 12068-12075.
• Dawson, P., 1994, Organizational Change: A Processual Approach, London: Paul Chapman.
• Dunphy, D.C. ,1996, Organizational change in corporate settings. Human Relations, 49(5), 541-542
• Eldrod, P. D. and Tippett, D. D, 2002, The death valley of change, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 15(3), pp273-291.
• Fuda Peter, 2013, Why Change efforts fail, The Alignment Partnership Pvt ltd., Retrieved on January 31from https://www.peterfuda.com/wp-content/themes/peterfuda-bootstrap/content/Why-Change-Efforts-Fail.pdf
• Graetz F, Smith ACT, 2010, Managing Organizational Change: A Philosophies of Change, Journal of Change Management, 10(2):135-154.
• Paton, R. A. and McCalman, J., 2000, Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation, 2nd edition, London: Sage Publications.
• Rieley, J.B. and Clarkson, I., 2001, The impact of change on performance, journal of Change Management, 2 (2), pp 160-172.
• Robbins, S. Bergman, Stagg, Coulter, M., 2012, Management, 6th edition, Pearson Education: Australia.
• Robbins, S. DeCenzo, D. Coulter, M. Woods, M., 2014, Management: The Essential, 2nd edition, Pearson: Australia.
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