Discuss the theory and practice of change management?
The modern business space is characterised with uncertainly coupled with a dynamic microenvironment which assumes even more complexity in the globalised era where a surprise event in one part of the world can have tremendous implications for an economy located in other part of the globe. A case in point is the US subprime crisis which assumed the proportion of the worst global financial crisis since 1930 and impacted every nation on the planet. As a result it is imperative it is imperative that organisations must be flexible and continually looking to adapt to the changing microenvironment either locally or globally. Further this tendency is even more imperative in a cutting edge business environment which exists today where organisations need to either adapt or perish as not responding to change would make them lose their competitive advantage and thus adversely impact their earnings (Cameron & Green, 2015). Another factor which makes change inevitable is the increasingly shorter product cycles where consumers are increasingly becoming more demanding in terms of product and service attributes which requires the organisations to constantly innovate so as to be relevant. Further the technology revolution also has tremendous influence on the overall business dynamics due to which organisations need to embrace the state of art technologies and constantly improve their processes and hence their way of conducting business (Hughes, 2010).
Having established that change is inevitable in the modern business environment, it is imperative to ponder at the complexity of the underlying process which leads to the change. It is estimated in various studies and surveys that more than 50% of the major organisational change initiatives result in failure which proves that change is fraught with uncertainty which needs to be carefully managed. There are various problems with regards to organisational change which leads to the inherent complexity and thus requires the aid of change management skills (Hayes, 2010). Firstly, there is a lot of uncertainty associated with the need to change amongst the employees in management role (excluding top management). This is primarily because the decision to change is primarily taken by the management and top executives and hence the middle and lower management may not fully be aware of the need to change and thus may not be fully committed to the change. Since they are not committed to the underlying change they are not able to sell the same to their immediate juniors; which raises further eyebrows on the actual reasons for the top management to initiate change and thus breeds suspicion (Burnes, 2004).
Secondly, there is uncertainty associated with the fate of the employees especially at the lower level especially when the overall objective of change is not clear and thus employees may become insecure as they start viewing the change as a grand plan for the top management to reduce the wage bill. This issue may assume grave proportion as the management may bring upon the change process without preparing and communicating to the employees about the expected changes which would groom insecurity amongst the employee as a result of which their productivity might be considerably lowered (Hughes, 2010). Further it may also happen that some of the trained and talented manpower might look for alternative job opportunities in order to escape the change related turmoil which provide more stability. Another related issue is the differential ability of the employees to cope up with the change especially in wake of the current skills possessed. This is especially true when the given change involves a paradigm shift in the underlying technology which may alter the processes significantly and hence the employees in an uncertain environment may feel more unsecure as they may be ill-equipped to cope up with the changed working environment (Cameron & Green, 2015).
Thirdly, at times the organizational change which the top management might intend to bring may not be feasible particularly keeping in mind the organisational culture, resources and capabilities at disposal. As a result of the goal being unrealistic, any efforts made in this direction no matter how sincere would result in failure and would add a host of problems with regards to human resources and maintaining competitiveness amongst the stakeholders (Burnes, 2004). Hence it is imperative that the goals that are intended to be achieved must be feasible to begin with or else all sincere efforts and allocation of valuable resources would go down the drain. Lastly, at times the change may be initiated reluctantly by the management as a result of crisis or as part of desperate means to transform the organisation without being fully committed to the change and hence the change process either fails to go through or fails to achieve the desired objectives (Hayes, 2010).
It is apparent from the above discussion that the organisational change is a complex task fraught with plethora of issues and thus successful change requires planning and management of the process with the support of the relevant stakeholders. The organisations need to adopt the process of change management so as to ensure greater transparency amongst the various echelons of the organisation and to facilitate better communication amongst the employees, management and other stakeholders which would eventually lead to greater commitment to the change process by the employees and other relevant stakeholders. Additionally, the change process would be more streamlined with lesser technical and operational glitches since it would be thought about with clear roles and responsibilities assigned to various employees and experts. Besides the employees and other stakeholders who would be impacted would be better prepared to deal with the whole change process and interim arrangements would be in place without disrupting the delivery of regular product or service to the consumers. Also in wake of the change, the change management facilitates the bringing of core issues in the open and thus ensure that these are resolved more promptly and effectively. On an overall basis, the change management tactics would ensure that there is lower uncertainty amongst the relevant stakeholders due to which their commitment to the overall change would be higher which in turn would make the transition process more smooth and glitch free (Hughes, 2010).
Cameron, E. & Green, M. 2015. Making Sense of Change Management, 4th edition, Kogan Page Publications , London
Hayes, J. 2010. The Theory and Practice of Change Management, 3rd edition, Palgrave Macmillan, London
Burnes, B. 2004. Managing Change: A Strategic Approach to Organisational Change, 4th edition, Financial Times/Prentice Hall Publications, London
Hughes, M. 2010. Managing Change: A Critical Perspective, 3rd edition, CIPD, London