You will be assessing aspects of an organisational change programme, the approach to organisational change that has been taken, and making recommendations for improvement.
Prepare a report in which you critique the way Cheryl Hailstrom has communicated the change that she is seeking to implement, using relevant scholarly literature, and make recommendations for improvement.
Role of a Change Agent
With the changing market structure and consumer demands, there has been an urging need to revise the organisational structure and operational framework of the companies to cater the market needs. The necessity of studying the change of an organisation and identifying the agents of the change are therefore an important part of business operations in present times. To keep up with the pace of technological advancement and changing criteria of production it has become eminently necessary for the organisation to evolve with the time and therefore the necessity for organisational change comes into being. The first step towards organisational change starts with effective change in communication. Communication change refers to the change in approach delivered through verbal and nonverbal communication and illustrates the process of bringing about the change in series of actions delivered through communication. The report will discuss in detail about the role of a change agent, and analyse the role Cheryl Hailstorm as a change agent and the way she implements change communication to create effective organisational change. The discussion will follow through several sections attending the critical analysis of the case, the role of Cheryl Hailstorm, the identifying the pieces of change communicated by her, and finally recommend solutions to modify the change communication as suggested by Cheryl Hailstorm.
The case opens up with the meeting scene (McNulty, 2018) of Cheryl Hailstrom with, Mr. Mark Dawson, the senior vice president of operations. Cheryl Hailstrom has been the CEO of Lakeland Wonders, a toy manufacturing company exclusively involved in making high quality wooden toys. The company has been operating for over a period of 94 years and has been successfully delivering quality products in time. Cheryl had joined the company when Walter Swensen IV was retiring from office. Cheryl had always been an enthusiastic person and her role in expanding the business of her former organisation, the ‘Kids&Company’ was commendable. This led Walter Swensen to request her, to be the new CEO as his replacement. The incident is post six months of Cheryl’s appointment and she feels that the company needs to make a decisive change to grow its business and earn a competitive edge over the others by finalizing a deal with Bull’s Eye store, which has agreed to partner with Lakeland Wonders for a deal. Cheryl feels that this is the right opportunity to initiate the process of the organisational change, and it is time for the company to outsource its manufacturing to over sea locations in order to reduce the manufacturing costs. However, to bring this change she requires the whole team, to start thinking in a different way and see the bigger picture behind bringing in the change. She plans to do this individually by communicating with the senior vice president of operations. She had planned a conference with the senior sales manager, the marketing head, and the vice president of operations to communicate her concerns and to give the board a clear idea of her plans through strategies of communication change. There had been several issues that she identified with the functioning, and it was her observation there needs to be a change in the work culture to bring about a change in the company. She refers to the empty office at 6.30 pm and apprehends that these things needs to be reshaped in order to change the future of Lakeland wonders. She decides to communicate these to her subordinates later during the conference.
Analysis of Cheryl Hailstrom's Approach to Communication Change
The way Cheryl communicates the process of change is more of a programmatic approach where in the information to create a change passes down in through the top-bottom approach. Given the way the company is dependent upon its trusted employees, the already existent managers are of the opinion that a participatory approach should be implemented to get a sense of the situation. Moreover given the nature of the situation Cheryl feels that the company is way too inclined to its older ways and is not willing to mend its ways for sustaining the competitive edge. However, it should be noted that, prior to the initiation of the change process, the readying of the organisation is necessary as mentioned by Stuart M. Klein. General approach to communication change is by the process of the programmatic approach, yet the ground research and backdrop of the change should be well evaluated to bring about an effective organisational change. This kind of approach allows lot more compliance and reduces employee resistance by delivering the change process in the way that creates fair procedure and keeping the stake holder’s perspective in mind and also conveys the vision of the implementers to the employees in methodist way. Cheryl had been very energetic in delivering her communication change and is always motivated to spread the vibe among her subordinates, which is definitely the way change communication should be initiated. However, the impact that she expected is missing due to the lack of her experience with the company. It is necessary for her to know her subordinates more thoroughly and understand the company culture to bring about an organisational change.
The requirement of existing companies to transform into their modern format is mostly to sustain the competitive edge in the market. Both the external and the internal factors influence the need for an organisational change. For the case of Lakeland Wonders, Cheryl had observed the internal factors, but have failed to understand the internal factors which have resulted in the resistance to change among her colleagues. Moreover having a long trust value with the employees, the board members and the operational manager’s count on this strategy as one of their unique selling proposition. The inclination of the board of directors towards the existing managers is also one of the hurdles that Cheryl will have to overcome in order to bring about the change. The proposition given by Cheryl does not necessarily bring about a drastic change, though it suggests that the initiation of the change must be done by upgrading their way of business operations. She suggests that outsourcing their manufacturing would initially help them to get an opportunity to increase their future possibilities of growing. She mentions that outsourcing would allow Lakeland wonders to compete with the price and also enhance their market outreach in terms of affordable range of toys. This necessarily does not mean that production facilities in the United States would have to be shut down. Cheryl adequately identifies the problems of the company, and proposes recommendations to create opportunities for Lakeland Wonders to grow and evolve with time to achieve the desired outcome. But the process in creating the change was adequately addressed eventually creating a resistance to change by the other employees. The process of unfreezing, and effective change has to be done in subsequent stages over a comfortable time frame. The way she planned to bring about the change was pretty constructive. She had planned to change the way Lakeland wonders packaged their products, and mentioned that better options should be tried out in designing the marketing strategies. She recommended of Sampsen Design, a Chicago based firm to bring a change in the way of packaging their new products with different approaches. She effectively brought about a change in her approach, by implementing the participatory approach among her subordinates and hence, making them feel important towards the company.
Identifying the Pieces of Change Communicated by Cheryl Hailstrom
The role of a change agent is like that of a catalyst who assists in creating a transformation. Each and every organisation, regardless of their stature, requires at least one change agent. A change agent is any individual who has the expertise and capacity to fortify, encourage, and organize the change in an organisational structure. Change operators might be either external or internal(Matos, Simoes, & Esposito, 2014). The achievement of any change agent, depends intensely on the quality and usefulness of the connection between the change agents and the key leaders in the association. Cheryl Hailstrom, have been the change agent in the case of Lakeland Wonders (Matos, Simoes & Esposito, 2014).
The typical change agent is either a person from the external environment alien to the company’s culture, or generally the agent is from the company who looks deeply into the structure and operations of the firm and recommend changes with alignment to the company’s culture. These are generally organisation development type change agents, and Cheryl is one of them. Though she had been in the company for almost six months, she has yet to know a lot about the organisation. Since Cheryl has been working with Lakeland Wonders, even before joining the company, since there was a tie up between her former company and Lakeland Wonders, she had known the company closely. The change agents concentrate on internal procedures, for example, intergroup relations, correspondence, and basic leadership. Their mediation procedure is generally called a cultural change approach, since they modify the change process based on the culture of the concerned organisation. Cheryl has tried to be an organisation development type of a change agent for Lakeland Wonders. She had initiated dialogue with the probable clients and has brought in a lucrative offer that allows longer commitment and scope of growth. She had not just initiated discussions with clients, at same time, she had been calculating ways to mend the old ways of Lakeland Wonders and propagate new work culture and ethics.
Though Cheryl has tried her best to create an environment of change there had been no positive outcome of it. Her subordinates and seniors are willing to listen to her new ways, but only a little could have been achieved. The major reasons could be found if a brief analysis of the why, when and how of Cheryl’s decision led to the current scenario.
Firstly, before even thinking of an organisational change, there should be a clear understanding and objective as to why the transformation is required. The Transformation of Lakelands Wonders is necessary to keep wit the changing pace, but that does not justify that only due to cost effectiveness, should a manufacturing unit be opened up in overseas. There needs to be the bigger picture than just the deal of the Bull’s Eye deal.
Now comes the When part of the question which refers to the credibility of the change with respect to the situation of the company. The case tells us that the bond with the labor union with company is going to expire in less than a year, and that any change of policy might slow down the rate of production, which will hamper growth. This scenario of when the change is required is also not been adequately observed by Cheryl (Jansson, 2013).
Recommendations for Improvement
Finally the most important question before starting a change communication is how to implement it. A proper adequate change process plan, is developed on the basis of the several stages Change communication. The unfreezing, or readying the company is required, that takes a considerable, time scale to start the change. Cheryl has directly initiated the change communication without even weighing the viability or readiness of the organisation. Thus resistance to her change is obvious as well (Langley et al., 2013).
Recommendations can be done once the gaps of a workflow has been understood. Similarly the following recommendations deem fit as per the case which would lessen the effort of Cheryl Hailstrom in bringing out the organisational change successfully (Grant, 2014). There are several steps for making a change process. These steps will help identify the recommendations that Cheryl should make to bring about an effective change.
- Identify why the company needs a transformation and connect emotionally with their employees to understand the company better.
- Initiate a phase of readying for the company to start the Change process. This would include better communication with the employees and the concerned to managers. Like she could personally visit the manufacturing units and have an effective communication with the base level employees.
- The processes of unfreezing should be done carefully keeping in mind the effective management after the change process.
- Effective management should be carefully done since the company is making a transformation. Ease of operations and other various processes must be ensured. Once these issues are sorted out, the company might go for re freezing of the new policies and incorporate these within company culture to see the successful transformation (Jacobs, Witteloostuijn & Christe-Zeyse, 2013).
It is only by effective communication and proper planning that a transformation can be brought. Organisational change is not an easy process and requires huge effort from both ends to make it a success. The managers and change agents have to effective communicate the idea of the change and thereby lead by example to create an impact to transform an organisation. As for the case study here, the effective communication and enthusiasm by Cheryl is not just enough to deliver the change she hopes to see. It has to be spread by her like an epidemic to bring about a revolutionary change in the century old company. One of the major reasons that should not be overlooked is the effective management of the change. The resistance to change is also one of the major concerns and Cheryl Hailstrom needs to pay special attention to understand the reasons behind the resistance. As long as she cannot connect with the employees and their managers, it will be difficult to unfreeze the situation causing confusion among the employees. The effective management post an organisational change should be handled with adequate communicative skills by addressing the concerns of the employees and taking adequate care to train and develop the workforce to maintain the new environment in a way that motivates the people working in the organisation to strive for excellence and generate profitable returns to sustain the organisational change.
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