Perhaps the only thing constant within organizations is now change. Traditionally, analysis of Organizational Change has been built around the organism metaphor in which organizations are analyzed as if they were living organisms operating in an environment to which they need to adapt to ensure survival. For an organization, its environment may be broken down into:
Environment factors and
This is an era of globalization and the organizations need to cope up with the dynamic and inevitable Organizational Change which take place very often. Because of this Organizational Change the competition among firms is becoming intense and every organization should be flexible enough to implement the changes whenever required for its survival.
There are two basic forms of Organizational Change. Planned change is change resulting from a deliberate decision to alter the organization. Companies that wish to move from a traditional hierarchical structure to one that facilitates self-managed teams must use a proactive carefully orchestrated approach. Not all change is planned, however. Unplanned change is imposed on the organization and is often unforeseen. Changes in government regulations and changes in the economy, for example, are often unplanned. Responsiveness to unplanned change requires tremendous flexibility and adaptability on the part of the organizations. Managers must be prepared to handle both planned and unplanned forms of change in organizations.
Forces for Change
Forces for change can come from many sources. Some of these are external, arising from outside the company, whereas others are internal, arising from sources within the organization.
The four major external forces for change are globalization, workforce diversity, technological change, and managing ethical behavior are challenges that precipitate change in organizations.
Pressures for change that originate inside the organization are generally recognizable in the form of signals indicating that something needs to be altered.
Declining effectiveness is a pressure to change. A company that experiences its third quarterly loss within a fiscal year is undoubtedly motivated to do something about it. Some companies react by instituting layoffs and massive cost – cutting programs, whereas others look at the bigger picture, view the loss as symptomatic of an underlying problem, and seek the cause of the problem.
A crisis also may stimulate change in an organization. Strikes or walkouts may lead management to change the wage structure. The resignation of a key decision-maker is one crisis that causes the company to rethink the composition of its management team and its role in the organization. A much-publicized crisis that led to change with Exxon was the oil spill accident with Exxon‘s Valdez oil tanker. The accident brought about many changes in Exxon‘s environmental policies.
Changes in employee expectations also can trigger the change in organizations. A company that hires a group of young newcomers may be met with a set of expectations very different from those expressed by older workers. The work force is more educated than ever before. Although this has its advantages, workers with more education demand more of employers. Today‘s workforce is also concerned with career and family balance issues, such as dependent care. The many sources of workforce diversity hold potential for a host of differing expectations among employees.
Changes in the work climate at an organization can also stimulate change. A workforce that seems lethargic, unmotivated, and dissatisfied is a symptom that must be addressed. This symptom is common in organizations that have experienced layoffs. Workers who have escaped a layoff may grieve for those who have lost their jobs and may find it hard to continue to be productive. They may fear that they will be laid off as well, and many feel insecure in their jobs.
Resistance to Change
People often resist change in a rational response based on self interest. However, there are countless other reasons people resist change. Many of these center around the notion of reactance that is a negative reaction that occurs when individuals feel that their personal freedom is threatened. Some of the major reasons for resisting change follow.
Fear of the unknown
Change often brings with it substantial uncertainty. Employees facing a technological change, such as the introduction of a new computer system, may resist the change simply because it introduces ambiguity into what was once a comfortable situation for them.
Managing Resistance to Change in Organizational Change
The traditional view of resistance to change treated it as something to be overcome, and many organizational attempts to reduce the resistance have only served to intensify it. The contemporary view holds that resistance is simply a form of feedback and this feedback can be used very productively to manage the change process. One key to managing resistance is to plan for it and to be ready with a variety of strategies for using the resistance as feedback and helping employees negotiate the transition. Three key strategies for managing resistance to change are communication, participation, and empathy and support.
Communication about impending change is essential if employees are to adjust effectively. The details of the change should be provided, but equally important is the rationale behind the change. Employees want to know why change is needed. If there is no good reason for it, why should they favor the change? Providing accurate and timely information about the change can help prevent unfounded fears and potentially damaging rumors from developing. Delaying the announcement of a change and handling information in a secretive fashion can serve to fuel the rumor mill. Open communication in a culture of trust is a key ingredient for successful change. It is also beneficial to inform people about the potential consequences of the change. Educating employees on new work procedures is often helpful. Studies on the introduction of computers in the workplace indicate that providing employees with opportunities for hands – on practice helps alleviate fears about the new technology. Employees who have experience with computers display more positive attitudes and greater efficacy – a sense that they can master their new tasks.
There is substantial research support underscoring the importance of participation in the change process. Employees must be engaged and involved in order for change to work – as supported by the notion That which we create, we support.‖ GE‘s
Workout process that was mentioned earlier in this chapter is a good illustration of how to get a large group together in a free form, open ended meeting. The outcome is a change to which everyone is committed. The group comes together later after the change is implemented to see what has been learned and to look at what is happening on the horizon. Participation by a large group can move change further along. Participation helps employees