Change Initiative George Tautz Grand Canyon University Organizational Development & Change MGT 623 Dr. Kensler March 17, 2010 Change Initiative Organizational change is a necessary outcome when considering various scenarios contributing to the resulting vision. Perplexing as it may seem, change initiatives don’t always result in positive outcomes. In fact, many never succeed. As a change agent, one should always have formulated a vision of what change will “look” like for the organization. One would be hard pressed to paint a landscape without having a vision of what the landscape should resemble.
Yet, resistance to change usually becomes a significant factor contributing to an initiative’s failure. It is likely an implicit expectation to prepare for the advent of resistance and it consequences. A change agent’s tool box should contain a number of strategies which will support the process of change. Defining and re-defining the end result as well as the change process itself is a useful exercise in that clarity eventually overcomes obscure, poorly orchestrated attempts at invoking change.
This paper will propose a change initiative designed for LC- an organization referenced previously in part I of a continuing anthology of LC’s attempts at facing change. Resistance to change will be examined within the context of how certain attributes of any successful change process operate to support or derail attempts at managing a successful change initiative. Managing change requires a vision which supports a renewal process (Moran & Brightman, 2001). Change doesn’t (or shouldn’t) occur for the sake of change.
The stress which change places upon an organization isn’t likely to justify the price in terms of its effect on the people which make up the organization. Rather, change should be gauged in terms of its resultant ability to adapt to the needs of the organization’s external and internal customers (Burke, 2002). This should serve as the premise for any organizational change initiative. It is, therefore, the basis for any vision attributable to recognizing that the needs of an organization’s constituents is not being served or met.
In practice, such a realization not only forms the basis for a vision of change, but also incites and solicits aberrant behavioral reactions by employees who are responsible for its implementation. Research and anecdotal examples support the fact that an initiative’s success or failure ultimately relies upon whether or not employees get in back of an initiative or stand in its way (Scheck & Kinicki, 2000). As mentioned, employee resistance is an integral component of a scenario for failure if not managed appropriately.
Rampant cynicism portends what could ultimately become an abbreviated attempt at change. Symptomatic responses to resistance include withdrawal as well as decrements in performance criteria (Weeks, Roberts, Chonko, & Jones, 2004). Resistance does not necessarily have to be exclusively negative. However, it needs to be planned for and managed upon presentation. Whatever change is envisioned for LC, there must also be a strategy for harnessing employee reactions of uncertainty and control loss.
In the case of LC, the precise vision of what the final outcome of change should be must be tempered by alternative strategies necessary to address resistance. In LC’s case, the vision is to become a more responsive organization able to adapt faster to environmental changes. A change in priorities coupled with an extinction of misdirected goals and objectives will require LC to utilize the coalition of support described previously in tandem with the overall goal of reviving the organization’s viability. Trusting management is an important component to the change process.
If change is not managed well, employees will inevitably mistrust management. This leads to anger as well as cognitive resistance which is questioning the very need for change in the first place. Interestingly enough, too much poor quality information results in an overall exacerbation of resistance linked symptomology (Allen, Jimmieson, Bordia, & Irmer, 2007). The perceived quality of information offered greater chances for a successful initiative. This is more or less intuitive. So then, what is the best way to provide good quality information? Fortunately for LC, the mechanism is already in place.
The coalition set up for LC will serve an instrumental role in developing, analyzing, and disseminating information to the rank and file employees at LC. However, it should be pointed out that the initial selection of coalition team members may prove to be one of the most important aspects of the change initiative. Poorly selected, unqualified or otherwise circumspect individuals who “leech” their way onto a planning and implementation team such as this one, tend to force more attention onto their own needs rather than on the needs of the organization.
A further refinement is in order, however. What must be understood is the observation that employees tend to react differently to quality information based on its source. The reason for this apparent discordant phenomenon has to do with employees perceiving communications emanating from senior management as one way- not two way. One way communication channels do not allow the employee to ask questions. Two way channels offer two way communication. Therefore, the most ideal make up of the coalition team should be senior management as well as supervisors.
Proceeding further, it should also be understood that the overall make up of the coalition should consist of experts contributing information appropriate to their expertise. Certainly, a coalition of change agents in a hospital setting, for example, would not do well if we included the landscaping staff whose contribution would be marginal at best to a positive outcome relating to decreasing mortality rates within the institution. In conclusion, trust in management is one of the most important contributing factors when considering the likelihood of resistance to change.
To enhance trust, management should form a coalition of experts as well as line supervisors for the purpose of putting forth accurate information. The strategic initiative for LC is to promote a change in how the organization conducts its business. Sweeping changes are proposed which will resonate within all areas of the organization. Immunity from inclusion is unlikely even for the most obscure, entrenched employee. Change will re-define how LC presents its service delivery model to both internal and external clients.
In order to garner support for change, LC must communicate to the employees what is being done and why. The company must offer an opportunity for a two way dialogue in order to circumvent employee cynicism. There are specific well orchestrated reasons for selecting the various team members. For example, all the major operations divisions should be represented since whatever is implemented will have far reaching effects on every division of the organization. The change initiative will determine how each division is accountable to the overall mission of the organization.
Developing a vision for change is an important step for the change agent to engage in. Without clarity, it is unlikely that change will occur successfully. References Allen, J. , Jimmieson, N. L. , Bordia, P. , & Irmer, B. E. (2007). Uncertainty during organizational change: Managing perceptions through communication. Journal of Change Management, 7(2), 187-210. Burke, W. (2002). Organization Change: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Moran, J. W. , & Brightman, B. K. (2001).
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