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Organisational Development Theory OD and its Role in Change Management

Discuss about the Lewin’s Organizational Development .

Thesis statement: Whether action research framework of Lewin’s organizational development could bring a positive change within an airline industry.

Purpose: The report aims to discuss how organizational development can bring change in an organization by applying theories of OD. The report uses a case study in order to understand the implementation of organizational development theories. Action research framework has been applied in order to bring positive change within the company in terms of employee satisfaction and management. Lewin’s theories are described and used to understand their real time applications.

Scope of report

The report has its own limitations because Lewin’s action research theory is being used and others have not been dealt with. The theory has been only applied for one particular case of Fox Airlines which limits the report to only airline industry.

According to French and Bell, organizational development is a method which is adopted by the organizations to bring effective changes by focusing on the work culture with the assistance of change agent (Anderson, 2016).  

According to Beckhard, organizational development is a team effort which is planned and initiated by top management to spread the change across the organization and increase the productivity of the organization using behavioral science knowledge (Anderson, 2016).

According to Burke, organizational development makes use of behavioral science knowledge to bring change within the culture of organization through strategic planning (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).

The role of OD is to provide to train the organization through strategic planning and implementation of internal change in order to attain the organizational goals and objectives (Cummings and Worley, 2009). Further, OD also acts as a counselor for the organization and facilitates the following action research approach:

Step 1. Relationship between the parties

Step 2. Agreement

Step 3. Data collection and diagnosis

Step 4. Suggestions and feedback

Step 5. Planning change

Step 6. Intervention

Step 7. Assessment

Action research model firstly gathers the data for diagnosis which is fed into system for taking an action to resolve the ongoing problem (Boje, Burnes & Hassard, 2012).

There are three steps involved in the model:

Step 1. Unfreezing: When an organization is faced with some dilemma then there is a need of bringing some changes within the organization (Boje, Burnes & Hassard, 2012).

Entry: In this phase the problem is identified by the senior management of the organization.

Contracting: The OD practitioner applies his own theory or frame for the situation, which must be shared with the client.

Step 2. Changing: The challenge or the issue of the organization is diagnosed in this phase to develop new behavioral models. These new models are tested for their effectiveness (Boje, Burnes & Hassard, 2012).

Diagnosis: In this phase, the practitioner collects the relevant data and information to analyze the root cause of the problem.

Feedback: The information collected by the practitioner helps the member understand the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

Planning Change: The practitioner and client work together to arrive at a solution through mutual understanding.

Lewin’s Action Research Model

Step 3. Refreezing: The new behavioral model developed in phase two is assessed in this phase and if the model is found to be effective then it is adopted by the organization (Boje, Burnes & Hassard, 2012).

Intervention: This is the phase where any change planned is implemented within the organization.

Evaluation: Since the overall process is cyclic, therefore, data is collected after the action phase in order to evaluate the effects of action.

Fox Airlines was facing the issue and challenge of employee dissatisfaction which affected the overall growth of the airlines. The ground crew members had not been receiving the support of their managers which led to issues such as employee turnover and retention. This also affected the customer service quality which was unhealthy for the organization. The employees are thus, stressed out and demotivated because of the routine task which they have to do repeatedly on daily basis and they have no freedom to handle the critical situation without the approval of manager.

The current situation of Fox Airlines needs to be dealt from the aspect of organizational development by implementing an appropriate framework to bring positive change in the organization. The manager needs to focus on employee satisfaction in order to improve their overall performance and drive more customers. The organization requires some structural change in order to increase the work productivity of the employees and thus, improve the performance of the organization. The employees to control and authority on their jobs so that they are satisfied with their jobs (Waddell et al, 2016).

Resistance to change was exhibited by the employees of Fox Airlines. It is the act of struggling with the amendments that have been implemented within an organization (Bradutanu, 2015). The resistance occurs when the modifications have not been implemented effectively. The sources of resistance to change include the following:

Reason of change being not communicated effectively: When the employees have not understood the need of change then they resist the change. This problem arises because the reason has not been communicated effectively to the employees and the resistance is faced from the employees who consider the current methods are the best ones (Hyland, 2007).

Fear of Change: The employees tend to fear from the change because of its unknown nature. They are ready to accept the change if they believe in it.

Competency: Employees feel that they won’t be able to move well along with the transition phase and thus, resist it.

Connection to old methods: Employees of an organization tend to create a connection with the methodologies which they have been using for very long and thus, find it hard to accept the new ways.

Trust: When employees do not have faith on a company that it would be able to manage the change effectively they resist change.

Change without consultation: When a change is being implemented without the consultation of the employees, they resist it because it has an impact on their jobs.

Status quo: People hold different perceptions about changes in an organization. For instance people feel that they might not be able to gel with the changes they resist it.

Understanding the Change

Rewards and benefits: When employees do not see any personal gain they find it inappropriate.

Strategies for Change

It is important to understand that employees are part of an organization and thus, bringing any change within the organization must be with the consent of the employees. Following are strategies which could be adopted to manage resistance to change:

Effective Communication: This is one of the best methods which could be deployed by the organization by informing the employees about the intended change. One to one communication helps to instill trust among the employees and they also understand the need to bring change (Asl, 2015).

Participation & Involvement: Involving the employees for bringing the change is a great way to implement change. The employees easily accept the change and do not resist it (Bushe, Marshak & Schein, 2015).

Support and Facilitation: Employees need the support of organization when faced with difficulties during the transition phase, thus, organization must stretch its complete support towards the employees to make them feel comfortable (Bridges & Bridges, 2017).

Consensus and Agreement: Organization could offer incentives to the employees so that they do not resist change. Employees could bring forth their own suggestions for the modifications so that they do not resist it (Y, Bloom & Crant, 2014).

As an OD practitioner a contract with the Fox Airlines was created for a year. As a practitioner,  the issues and challenges of the organization have been studied which have been implemented and evaluated within the past one year. The Fox Airlines hired the practitioner with the intention to resolve employee management issue of the organization. Thus, Fox Airlines and OD practitioner have already entered into a mutual contract wherein, as a practitioner the expectation is to design a framework to resolve the employee issues at Fox Airline. As a practitioner, one would require the assistance of the organizational members in order to design the framework. The values of the organization has been along with its readiness for change, resource availability and the potential of change of organization (Jacobs, Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).

As a practitioner, the report would use theory of organizational development and in this case, the suitable theory was found to be action research model which was developed by Kurt Lewin. The contract between the practitioner and organization has set the ground rules for both in terms of their relationship, time investment and rules & regulations to be followed.

The information was been collected from the members of the organization through interviews and questionnaire and by consulting their manager and supervisor. After conducting several interviews with the ground crew members, the challenges which were hindering the growth of the airlines were identified (Burke & Noumair, 2015). The issues and challenges were as below:

Poor Interpersonal Skills: The ground crew was found to demonstrate poor interpersonal skills, which led to increasing conflicts between the junior and senior crew members. The major cause of these conflicts was the overorganized structure of the organization.

Poor Communication Skills: When tension aroused then the employees were found to demonstrate poor communication skills while interacting with each other. During peak season, the employees were overloaded with work which creates stress and tension among the team members. The stress causes conflicts among them and leads to unofficial behavior between the senior and junior crew members. The employees talked about each other with very hostile attitude.

Resistance to Change

No Control & Authority: The ground crew members were exhibiting high level of enthusiasm and also had the motivation to learn. They were consistently restricted by the crew managers and were not given the freedom to make their own decisions during critical situations and dilemmas. They did this to have complete authority over the ground crew members. Thus, the crew members began to get bored by doing the same task repeatedly every day. 

Disapproval by Manger: Crew managers also scolded the crew members in front of the customers which downgraded their reputation in front of the customers. This disappointed the crew members and did not give them an opportunity to improve themselves.

No Career Growth: Further, the crew members also did not get adequate opportunity to develop and enhance their skills and were pressurized to do their daily routine job. This is one of the major reasons for employee turnover and high attrition rate because the employees felt that they were not able to progress in their career which restricted their career growth.

The crew members were the front office staff and had a direct interaction with the customer which was an important factor for driving great customer service. They were responsible for checking in, security and clearance checks, flight boarding and customer service at the boarding gate, luggage control, customer administration and paging for customers. Apart from these services, they were also responsible for handling emergency situations. Thus, the ground crew had huge responsibilities over them and were the key drivers for excellent customer service. Thus, it is really important that the ground crew members are satisfied with their job role so that they can manage their work effectively and efficiently.

The above issues and challenges had been discussed with the top management of Fox Airlines in order to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

Once the issues and challenges were presented to the management of Fox Airlines, the next step was to plan an action through mutual understanding. The planned action would also consider the culture, technology and environment of the organization.

Employee Empowerment

The crew managers needed to understand that an employ’s happiness depends upon the authority over their own lives. They needed to explore ways to impart freedom to the ground managers by giving them authority and control over their job roles and responsibilities (Ugboro & Obeng, 2008). They should be given the freedom to handle the critical situations at their own pace to improve their skills and abilities. This has helped to instill confidence within them. For instance, managers gave them the liberty to deal with the customers beyond the company policy when required. This has satisfied both customer as well as the employee.

Further, the employees have also been given the authority to create their own personal goals to control their own success. This has created employee-driven competition in the organization.

Employee Comes First

Instead of going after the strategy customer first, the organization has implemented employee first strategy. The top airlines have discovered the golden rule that happy and satisfied employees would drive in more customers by keeping them satisfied (Gounaris & Boukis, 2013). This has instilled the loyalty and commitment among the employees and they have become more dedicated towards their work.

Strategies for Change

Personality and Attitude Over Technical Skills

This is another major factor which says that the organization should take care of the issue during the recruitment process and prefer those candidates who have good attitude, teamwork ability and friendliness. The employees who have the right attitude have been able to grasp the new required skills quicker because of their great flexible nature. This change has resolved the problem at the root level and thus, now the staff selection would not just be on the basis of their professional degrees and resume rather their overall personality is analyzed which has helped the growth of the company.

Growth and Opportunity

It is the responsibility of an organization to look after its employees. The organization needed to provide training and opportunities to the ground crew members so that they could see their career alleviating (Ford, 2014). The employees have been trained on leadership skills, career development, software and other operational activities (Boella & Goss-Tumer, 2013). The crew members have begun to feel that they are learning and advancing in their career through the support of the organization (Shields et al, 2015).

Looking After The Employees

“Work hard, party harder” is the belief strongly incorporated by the successful organization. Fox Airline has also implemented this rule and conducted impromptu parties to create fun within the organizational culture. The ground crew members seem happier because of the fun element being integrated within the organization. Events have been conducted for the employees in which their families were also invited.

The employees have also been looked after when they were going through a crisis such as family member became ill or any other tragedy (J, 2015). It is the responsibility of a leader to take care of employees during crisis. Employees were supported during such times and activities such as providing ride, meals, cleaning facility or any other support when the employees are in need of help, have boosted the morale of the employees and they are also ready to serve the organization when it needs them.

Encouraging Social Connections

Interaction among the employees has also boosted up their confidence. Frequent events have been conducted such as birthdays and holidays to motivate the employees. The celebration of events did not necessarily require an expense, rather employees were simply asked to bring some dish from their home and could have lunch together. This has increased the socialization among the employees (Truss et al, 2013). Community service is another method which helped to create positive environment.

Changing Overorganized Structure: Changing the overorganized structure also resolved the problem of leadership and the employees have become clearer regarding their job profile.

Implementation of the suggested method has improved the overall productivity of Fox Airlines and employees have become more satisfied because of the following reason:

The interpersonal skills of the employees have improved because of the training programs conducted on a frequent basis. This has also reduced the conflicts among the employees because they have stopped showing their hostile nature to each other.

The training program also improved the communication skills of the employees and they have demonstrated great communication skills while interacting with the customer. This is also a result of employee empowerment which boosted their confidence and improved their skills. Employees have begun to talk to each other with increased friendliness.

The action plan also minimized the employee turnover by showing low attrition rates. Employees became more loyal and committed to the organization because of the care they received during the hard times (Cullen et al, 2014).

Employees became more enthusiastic because of the growth opportunity given to them through the training programs and career progression. They have started taking up more and more responsibilities to show their dedication towards work and advance in their career (Lazaroiu, 2015). Career progression has motivated them and instilled enthusiasm.

Social activities and interactions have brought them closer to their colleagues and instead of stressing out and showing hostile attitude to each other, they help each other demonstrating friendly attitude (Albrecht et al, 2015).

Recruitment process helped to hire the perfect staff and candidates for the positions of the organization. Choosing personality over technical skills helped to filter the perfect candidates who have been more adaptive and flexible towards the critical situations.

Changing overorganized structure also supported the employees by giving them more clarity towards their job profile.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The report has successfully discussed the impact of applying organizational development theory on an organization. The organization taken in the report was Fox Airlines which suffered from employee dissatisfaction due to which there were arising many conflicts within the organization. The conflicts created unhealthy business environment such as hostile behavior of the employees towards each other, poor communication. As an OD practitioner, the report makes use of action research framework in order to resolve the issues and challenges of the Fox Airlines.

After critical analysis and evaluation of the organization from the view of an OD practitioner, the report suggested employee empowerment, employee growth opportunities, employee engagement activities, changing hierarchical structure and looking after the employees.

All the above measures have been evaluated after their implementation. The measures have been proved to be very effective in the Fox Airlines and have minimized the attrition rate and instilled trust and commitment within the employees towards the company. Employees have begun to respect each other and even assisted each other by offering help during critical situations. Thus, the process groomed the overall communication skills and interpersonal skills of the employees which has improved the customer service.


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Action Research Model

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