Implementation of Change Management

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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

A Look at the Different Important Aspects of Change Management

One of the most important aspects of businesses and organizations, change management is considered a structured approach to change in order to achieve a desired state in the future. The system changes are controlled and patterned from a pre-defined model/framework. These changes are usually called reasonable modifications that could lead to positive results. In order to understand it better, it is good to look at the different major aspects of change management.

The Key Aspects of Change Management

What is change management? This business approach is defined as a process of project management where changes are introduced and approved formally. There are four basic types of change that organizations may undergo including structural changes, technological changes, strategic changes and attitude change. In organizations, management is regarded as a multidisciplinary practice, which requires creative marketing as well as a deep social understanding about the group dynamics and styles of leadership. Organizations can benefit from management because their communication systems and the expectations are aligned in the process.

Additional Facts and Other Interesting Details

Change management makes use of various metrics like communication effectiveness as well as the commitment of leaders. In addition, the need for change to develop accurate strategies must be perceived so that change failures can be avoided and troubled change projects can be solved. For management to be effective, the employees must also do their part. Some of the factors affecting the responsibilities of employees include experience, maturity and health. Furthermore, these individuals can also be driven by other relevant factors like motivation, personality and stability.

Of course, greater responsibilities lie in the hands of the managers, who actually need to facilitate and implement change. They must also help employees understand the ways, goals and reasons of the businesses or organizations. More importantly, every manager must enable the change, communicate with employees and interpret the different situations affecting the groups.

In order for change to be effective, there are certain steps that managers must follow. The first one is to increase urgency by making real and relevant objectives as well as inspiring employees to work. Aside from this, it is also necessary to create a guiding team, which usually needs the right combination of levels and skills.

The teams need to establish a strategy and vision that are simple but achievable. After implementing the change, it is also important for the change to hold for a very long time, which can be achieved by appointing new change leaders, promoting deserving individuals and recruiting employees to fill up important positions.

Role of the CEO in Change Management

A change initiative involves a concerted, consistent effort at various levels. The Top Management and Board of Directors are as important to the process as is the change agent, the sponsors, the steering committee and the people at large.

The various key roles in an organizational change process include the following:

The Initiator of Change: Organisations often understand the need for change only when they’ve been stung by some deep loss. The loss could be in terms of a dipping sales figure, the departure of key people, a fall in the market share or the loss of an important client to a competitor etc. Often, a change is initiated when someone within the organization reacts to such events and signals the need for a change.

The Change Agent: The change agent is one who is responsible for driving and implementing change across the organisation. The change agent can either be an external consultant or an internal consultant. In fact, at different stages in the change process, different individuals or teams may come to occupy this role. For instance, if change management task is outsourced to an external consultant, he serves as the initial change agent. However, when the project team starts actual work on the recommendations of the consultant, the team leaders become the change agents. Basically, change agents at various stages push change by reinforcing the need to change, and championing the cause of change.

The Official Sponsor Team: Usually, the organisation will identify a team or a department to officially coordinate the change process. In larger organisations, the sponsors may be the HR Department or the IT department. In smaller organisations, a team of senior leaders can play this role.

Finally, while change efforts are undertaken at the ground level, they need to be steered by the top management. The role of the top management is paramount in ensuring that the initiative does not lose focus or get stranded due to operational or motivational issues.

THE ROLE OF TOP MANAGEMENT

Change can either “make or break” an organisation. Change never takes care of itself. Change is initially difficult but ultimately stabilizes. These are the three basic facts of an organizational change.

Although after an initial denial phase, people will finally adapt to change, the transition phase is difficult. And this is where Top Management can help. As we saw, change is initiated by one deeply affected by some crisis in the organisation and carried forward by agents and sponsors. However, the success of the change efforts ultimately rests in the hands of top management. Depending upon the structure of the organisation, the work is delegated to different levels of employee participation depending upon the complexities involved. Thus, the Board of Directors may supervise the CEO, the CEO supervises the Executive Assistants, who in turn delegate work to the middle management, until it trickles down to the entry level supervisors.

The Top Management is instrumental, rather vital in setting the mood for change. Not only does it play a key role in communicating the vision and the concomitant goals, it also plays a major part in objectively setting targets and defining results to accomplish the change. People are most deeply influenced by the actions of their supervisors. Hence, leaders themselves need to imbibe the expected behavior that the change warrants, so as to ensure that they induce such behavior in others.

Top Management Teams can reinforce the agenda for change by using their power positions or external links, even pushing it through the media, but ultimately, actual progress comes only in collaboration with workers. Again, it is important for top management to generate a sense of collective responsibility. A key to inculcating this attitude lies in genuinely valuing workers and their role in the whole process. There can be nothing more motivating than to know that your labors are acknowledged and appreciated by the company. Adopting a culture that cuts across the hierarchy and treats all people as equals, giving organisational goals priority over personal goals etc. are all perceived as symbolic acts to signify the need for change and the value that is assigned to it. Thus, a lot lies within the capacity of the top management in terms of sending out the correct signals that will propel change.

Off late, I noticed that a certain brand of shampoo, has its product (read: the bottle) carry the signature and a small picture of the hair expert they collaborated with to create the product. What are they doing? In my view, they are trying to increase the credibility of the product, so that more people come to trust the brand. Similarly, “selling” a change to your people requires what I term “credibility management”. And that is a major responsibility of the Top Management Team. The top management not only needs to communicate the vision for change, but also needs to tie the vision to business needs and show how the change will impact profits, productivity or quality of work life. Equally important is the management’s ability to realistically address the existing gap between the current situation and the envisioned situation, and present to the people a powerful, reasonable and well planned strategy – a blueprint for success. Next, driving speedy implementation is extremely important. Once people are convinced of the strategy, the top management needs to quickly put them to “act” upon it. The faster your strategies are put to action, the earlier they are likely to succeed. It’s like a “buzzer-round-quiz-game”, the faster you hit the buzzer, the more your chances of winning. On the other hand, you may well know the perfect answer, but if you don’t hit the buzzer on time, it really doesn’t work! Even with a perfect strategy, immediate action becomes the buzzword. With every success you move closer to your vision and increase your credibility, so eventually people will volunteer to follow you.

Another important observation is that during organizational change, resistance from people is directly proportional to the perceived threat from change. Change challenges the status quo and demands that people venture out of their comfort zones. It means abandoning the “way things are done” and embracing a new set of potentially better conditions. But despite the potential benefits of change, it is always initially abominable. It comes with fears of a job loss, a change in role, a change in reporting, and so on and so forth till people are so consumed with anxiety and doubt that they have little left to think of it constructively. To maximize benefits from change, top management must minimize the perceived threats from change. Many times a lot of the apprehensions may actually be baseless, hence addressing them at the top level means credibly putting unwarranted fears to rest, thereby averting precious loss due to stress and mental anxiety.

So, we spoke of the top management’s responsibility in vision sharing, developing collective responsibility, managing credibility, erasing out meaningless apprehensions, setting goals, defining targets and leading by example, but there’s still something we haven’t spoken about. Listen, because this is important….

Now consider: How fast did you dismiss the last four words in the preceding paragraph, expecting to stumble upon a great management secret in the next?

Doused expectations apart, the simplest fact that the top management needs to understand about communicating change is that it is IMPORTANT to LISTEN. Just like most of us would miss the message in those four words, hoping for something greater to follow, the management often skips attention to employee concerns, preferring to advocate rather than to listen. Often, employee concerns can raise relevant issues, which need inclusion in your change Management Plan. Top Management Teams need to take care, that communication between them and the organisation, is held as interactive sessions, rather than imposing one way talks. Do not rush to explain how great the change is going to be or offer examples of how people survived earlier changes and how they were expected to do the same again. Rather, acknowledge that change is difficult and that every concern is worthy of attention. Be firm on the agenda, but sensitive to the concerns. From there, the secret of effective communication lies in attentive listening, for only when you listen can you respond appropriately. Only when you respond appropriately can you address your people’s concerns effectively, and only by doing that can you minimize perceived threats from change, and maximize productive efforts towards change. So, take time out, listen and attend to the employees’ individual, special needs or issues, while handling change.

Rather than advocating that a certain “new system of working” is better than the “old system of working”, Top Management could try the “thesis-antithesis-synthesis” method to communicate change. “Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis” is a philosophy, commonly associated with the 19th century German thinker, G.W.F. Hegel, who contended that historical evolution is the outcome of conflicting opposites. Simply put, thesis is a statement. Antithesis is the counter statement. Obviously the thesis and the antithesis are contradictory or opposed to each other. The synthesis implies resolving this conflict by offering a solution at a higher level, by combining the positive elements of both the thesis and the antithesis. The synthesis then forms a new thesis, which, in time, encounters an antithesis, and is resolved at the next higher level through another synthesis. This philosophy is often used to explain Hegel’s dialectic on the process of historical evolution.

How can it be applied to organizational change? In our context, let us take the current situation as the thesis. So, the new system or the ideal situation is the antithesis. Now, if you try to impose that the new system is better than the old because of a, b, c, d, e reasons, you pose a challenge that is most likely to be resisted. No one wants to think that they are operating in a sham system, which is no longer capable of working. Instead, try striking a “synthesis” between the current and the ideal situation. Communicate the positives in the current system and the desirables from the ideal system. Suggest that the change will bring about a synthesis between the two, for better functioning. This way, you promote the change, without devaluing the current way of working. Psychologically, this has a positive impact on the way people react to the idea of change.

Moving ahead, the top management need also ensure that work processes, performance systems, training programs, job descriptions etc. that form or support the framework within which employees work, are aligned to the change objective and complement each other.

While, in general, change calls upon identifying the different business units involved and delegating work to them, through able team leaders, the top management needs to chart out a macro plan. Having identified the tasks involved in achieving change and the time frame available to complete those tasks, top management must map a critical path of all tasks, wherein they have a clear picture of which task has to be completed by when, which task follows which, and how are different task areas tied to each other. This helps achieve synchronization of work efforts, without which the desired change can never be achieved. From there, the team leaders can take on the responsibility of guiding their respective teams to achieve the set targets within the defined time to accomplish change.

Various studies in the area have shown that it is a better approach for top management to work its way through the existing culture than trying to change it, all of a sudden. This can be done through a shared vision and a buy-in of managers operating at the lower levels of hierarchy. Generating an interest among them and the employees they supervise means pulling in precious energy for your project. For, the real work needed to implement your plans happens here. Once they are committed to their roles in achieving Change, the project can pick up considerable speed. However, while the management adopts such an employee oriented approach, it must also ensure that those not committed to their roles be mentored or shown the door.

Research has shown that many companies, for instance, Navistar International Corporation, who spectacularly accomplished change, did so, not by engaging external consultants, but by having their top management study the organisational context, company history, standard operating procedures and then building improvement teams to drive change wherever required. Thus, these results sufficiently testify to the importance of the Top Management Teams’ role in handling organizational change.

MANAGING CHANGE SUCCESSFULLY – HOW CAN CEO’S ACHIEVE THIS?

In a survey conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Centre, researchers indicated that since change is almost always met by resistance, there arises the need for a champion to drive change across the organisation. Further the more powerful and visible the champion is, the more successful the change project tends to be. In this direction, the research concluded that the leader of the organisation, most often the CEO is often the most effective communicator of the vision and the necessity of change across the organisation. In fact, change projects in most of the best practice organisations were found to be spearheaded, planned and managed by the CEO of the Company. Often, it is not enough for the CEO to just communicate the vision to the workforce. In order to ensure that vision successfully translates into reality, the CEO must also play a major role in planning and implementing the change process. The active involvement of the CEO in the project underlines the significance of the same, thus ensuring organisation wide support and commitment.

The CEO perspective Often times, change is viewed as an objectively measurable output. It could be a surge in sales figures, a new business unit or a process reengineering. However, what some CEO’s may miss is the transition phase. Till the output becomes visible and operating, the impression could be that the change effort has been unsuccessful or worst not achieved. Fact is, the transition phase, which precedes the phase where change results become visible is not only the toughest phase, but is also the phase where the maximum change effort is required. This is a time, when people are adapting to the new situation, adjusting themselves into new found responsibilities, and sometimes operating both old and new systems simultaneously. While this phase may not show any visible output, this is the phase where the maximum change is actually taking place. The CEO needs to empathize with his employees during this phase rather than worry about the observable result. The only hurdle that they may face is there are no limits to how long a transition phase will last before the change finally sets in and becomes visible.

Another hurdle for the CEO is to effectively handle pressure situations, wherein the Board may want to see how the change has affected a return on investment too soon. This disregards the fact that a Change is always gradual and can eventually lead to a regression.

A third challenge, which is quite inconspicuous, is that the CEO often runs a shorter transition cycle than the middle management, and hence is actually not as “connected” to the middle management as he may feel. The reason is that, for him, the change is often signified by the accomplishment of a strategic objective, whereas for the middle management, the actual change impact sets in after the objective has been achieved and a new set of circumstances established. For it is the middle management that has to deal with this change on a daily basis, slowly regularising the change to make it a part of the system. That requires time. Hence, a longer transition phase. This disconnect, between the CEO and the middle management in a change scenario can pose a challenge to the CEO.