Change indeed is fundamental in life. The reality of the complexity and vagrancy in the environment (external or internal) is that organisations and individuals are constantly being pressurised to change in one form or the other. Change could be rapid or slow, perceptible and imperceptible, minor or substantive.
Vecchio (2006) in a tone of finality submitted that all organisations (whether profit or nonprofit, military or mutinational corporations) have no choice but to change so as to keep up with the pressure from the environment (internal and external). It is a compelling case of “change or die” (Vecchio, 2006:365).
Pressures to change can be obvious or implicit. Managers are expected to anticipate and direct change process so that organizations can benefit from it. Infact Pantea (n.d) of the University of Aard,Romania suggested that underlying the Lewin’s Change Process model is that the change process eventually involves a learning experience as well as the expediency to abandon the “current attitudes, behaviours, or organizational practices”.
The forces of change can sometimes be intimidating and might include forecast of changing economic conditions, changing consumer preference, technological and scientific factors, globalisation and competition, and last but not the least, changes in legal landscape.
Response to the forces of change may require strategic change or operational change. Strategic change is organizational wide and has to do with organizational transformation. While strategic change has a long term focus, operational change has immediate effect on working arrangement within a part of the organization. Operational change focuses on elements like new systems, procedures, structures or technology. Organizational change can be static (Lewin’s model) or dynamic (Continuous Change Process Model).
Change management requires strategic thinking and planning, good implementation and stakeholders consultation. The change desired must be realistic, attainable and realistic.
Lewin’s view of the change process provides us with a tool or model of ascertaining the need for change, its implementation and monitoring. (Lewin, 1951). Armstrong (2006) identifies a plethora of change models including those of Bechard (1969), Thurley (1979), Quinn (1980), and Bandura (1986).
Lewin’s process model of planned change has the following underlying assumption:
1. Change process involves new learning as well as a paradigm shift from current attitudes, behaviours and organizational practices.
2. Occurrence of change is predicated on the existence of motivation to change. This is critical in change process.
3. People are central to organizational changes. Whatever the type of change desired at the end of the day it is the individuals that is the target of change.
4. Deisirability of the goals of change however intensive does not preclude the existence of resistance to change.
5. If change must be effective, new behaviours, attitudes and organizational practices must be reinforced.
Lewin’s planned model of change comprises of three steps described as unfreezing, change and re freezing. At the unfreezing stage, there is need to create awareness to change. The equilibrium that supports the existing practices, behaviours and attitudes must be altered.
Data collection may be necessary at this stage for further analysis so that the need for change may be apparent to all. At the changing stage the goal is to transform people, structure, task and technology as indicated in Vecchio (2006: 373). The refreezing stage requires that assessment of result be carried out with a view to making necessary modifications.
New responses could be developed based on the new information received. Reecho (2006:374) has identified forces of resistance to change to include: employee desires for security, contentment with the status quo, narrow force of change, group inertia, threatened expertise, threatened power, and changes in resource allocation.
CHANGE MANAGEMENT AT ADESHINA ADELEKE AND COMPANY
Adeshina Adeleke and company comprises of a group of professionals specialising in property services it is a single line firm with headquarters in Lagos Nigeria. Adeshina Adeleke and company has branches in Abuja and Porthacourt, Nigeria and has developed competencies in Agency, Valuation and Facility Management.
It has a diversified and yet a cohesive workforce. Its workforce diversity is in terms of gender and ethnic groupings. The company has flat and yet optimally centralised structure. At the apex of the structure is the Principal Consultant who is the Chief Executive Officer.
Subordinated to it are the units/ branch heads. It has a strong and strategy ally culture. In terms of strategic grouping, the firm falls within the SME group and operate within the services segment of the property industry.
Adeshina Adeleke and company is affected by forces of change both in a systematic and unsystematic sense. The present economic downturn has a great effect on the Nigerian economy resulting in lack of liquidity in the property market. The effect of illiquidity is high property inventory for sale and to let within Adeshina Adeleke’s property bulletin.
Sales and letting are down and consistently for a quarter.Sales teams could not meet their targets. The result of the performance variance analysis triggered a need for strategic and operational change on the part of the firm. As a firm, we were caught off guard as the scenario we found ourselves in was never anticipated.
Management felt a need to increase sales and profitability and also to reposition the firm through necessary transformation. Although at the time, we were neither guided nor constrained by any model in managing the desired change, it would be useful to adopt Lewin’s planned change process to analyse Adeshina Adeleke and company’s change management process.
To kickstart the freezing stage the leadership of the firm created an awareness of the need to change, first among the management staff and later among the sales teams. Performance results for three months were discussed and analysed at management meeting.
Management as a whole was made to understand the emerging pattern and be sensitised on the need for a turn around. Subsequently a management staff was mandated to meet the sales teams and middle level managers to educate them on the firm’s predicament and the need to develop a sense of urgency for change.
Once a consensus was built on the urgency of the need for change, a management and staff committee was constituted to look in depth at the firm’s predicament with a view to proffering solutions. The committee’s recommendation include the following:
• Wider consultations with the rank and file so as to sell the change to the majority of staff especially the influential ones who are capable of building a coalition to resist the change. It is important that such groups be made to collaborate in the change process.
• Sales team members be sent on training to acquire further skills in marketing especially on selling during economic down turn.
• Abuja branch manager be replaced with Porthacourt branch manager who has been making waves in Porthacourt.
• A third of the sales team members be made to work on commission basis to reduce the overhead especially during transition period.
• That networking and cold calls should take a paramount place ahead of media campaign
• That our media campaign should be sustained.
• That an interventionist or a change agent should be allowed to lead the change.
Report of the committee was adopted and an HR practitioner was appointed to lead the change. Suffice it to say that we are still in the changing stage of the project. Sales staff are in and out of training both out and in-plant. Consultation is on going concerning those to be converted into commission based staffs.
A committee is looking into our business process and value chain activities with a view to eliminating non productive activities. Contributions of strategic business units are also being looked into so that decisions could be taken on their relevances.
Performances of members of our strategic group are being studied with curiosity. Our IT department is looking into the possibility of massive deployment of Ecommerce solutions for increased performance.
The firm is yet to get into the refreezing stage, rather it is still in transition. Time will tell whether those measures are worth the hassles and whether new knowledge will result.
I am of the opinion that the change project gives opportunity to mine data from all aspects and elements of the firm further analysis and decision making. It does appear the change project is slanted toward financials than the human element that ultimately make the change happen.
1. Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London.
2. Bandura, A, (1986) Social Boundaries of Thought And Action, Prentice- Hall, Eaglewood Cliff, NJ. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London.
3. Beckhard, R,. (1969) Organization Development: Strategy and Models, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
4. Lewin, K (1951) Field Theory in Social Science, Harper & Row, New York. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London
5. Pantea, M.I.I.V.V (n.d) “Managing Change In Organizations. Aard University, Arad, Romania.
6. Quinn, J.B, (1980) “Managing Strategic Change”, Sloane Management Review, 11(4/5), pp 3-30. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London
7. Thurley, K (1979) Supervision: A reappraisal, Heinemann, London. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London.
8. Vecchio, R.P (2006). Organizational Behaviour: Core Concepts. 6th Ed, Thomson South- Western