Managing Organizational Change
Organization change requires physical, psychological and emotional efforts of the employee. Lewin argued that all changes meet resistance since people are not prepared for change. This brings the anxiety of radical relearning that is coercive with no choice. Coutu (2002) suggests that learning only happens when survival anxiety is greater than learning anxiety thus leaders need to choose between increasing survival anxiety through coercion or by creating a better environment for unlearning and new learning.
Organizational change is a problem that every manager struggles to achieve against the forces that may seem to resist it. Resistance to change is based on the need to preserve the status quo rather than change it through learning new things (Hussain, et al., 2016). Therefore for change to occur in the organization Lewin suggests that the leader must add new forces for change that will remove some existing characteristics of interpreting behavior in a way known as unfreezing. The unfreezing process must prove the need for change and show reasons why the past processes have not been effective and the need to unfreeze or change them (Marrow, 1999). However, employees in the organization fear change because they focus on the economic benefit that such change will bring to them (Nahavadi, 2015). This is called the principle of economic effort which makes employees to question the utility benefit of the new change. Since change will take different forms like restructuring the organization and making employees learn new skills and methods the principle of economic effort suggests that there must be perceived benefits in the new strategy that will meet the effort made by the employee to learn new skills and ideas. The organization must enable the employee understand the net utility function in the new change to limit resistance. This will create psychological safety that will push for greater productivity. However, most organizations face a lot of resistance since they use survival anxiety to coerce employees to learn new ideas and adapt to change without giving them the option of economic effort.
The fear of failure or trying new things is also one of the reasons why people fear change. According to Cummings & Worley (2004) organizations establish certain processes that become key components of employee’s life within the organization. Change will therefore lead to new trends in behaviour and forces that need to be added to the organization and removal of the existing behaviour. Schein’s model change suggests that unfreezing stage requires disconfirmation, creating survival anxiety and triggering learning anxiety within the organization (Nahavadi, 2015). This creates a state of confusion where people feel the fear of learning new things that threaten what they knew. According to Schein (1992) this change can be triggered by external forces of change that may require organizations to realign their strategies. For example, the promise of Japanese management styles in the 1970s made American companies to undergo new changes to align themselves with the changing trends in management. The learning narrative is a change initiation strategy that allows organizations to develop mechanisms that can enhance change acceptance. The learning narrative allows employees to appreciate the need for change and the economic effort for the process. This allows identifying the gap between the present and the future state that needs to be achieved. The learning narrative allows organizations to introduce new strategies by setting principles that will guide the change process. This ensures that employee’s fears are contained and the reason for change has been achieved.
On the other hand, of change is based on low tolerance for change due to the need to acquire new skills. This is because organizational change requires people to rapidly change their attitudes and behaviour without giving room for transition (Lamsa & Sintonen, 2006). Through the learning narrative, management increases tolerance levels that limit resistance to change. Employees are allowed to undergo transition from the previous organizational processes to new organizational process. In the case study there is need for management to allow transition period so that employees can adapt to the new changes (Fedor, Caldwell, & Herold, 2006). The fact that the organization is restructuring to increase efficiency, employees need to be prepared for the new change processes that will require some employees being laid off while the organization will develop a new system. The learning narrative will therefore set in place principles that will allow the transition from the old system to the new system.
Organizational change is inevitable since the external environment is dynamic and keeps on changing. This means that organizations have to put strategies in place to ensure that they adapt to the ever-changing environment (Fugate, Kinicki, & Prussia, 2008). Managers need to involve their employees to limit resistance to change. From Lewin’s model of change and Schein’s concept of organizational change, organizations can achieve change through the learning narrative by developing principles that will guide transition of change.
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Nahavadi, A. (2015). The Art and Sciece of Leadership. New Jersey: Pearson.
Schein, E. H. (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Fransisco: Jossey Bass.