Change Management

This Chapter discusses the challenges associated with change management, focussing on the processes, tools and techniques needed to manage the personnel aspects of change in order to achieve required business outcomes.

Organisational change can be significant, such as corporate restructuring, new market exploitation or new product/service development. Change can also take place in various subsystems, which evolve and may influence organisational practice. Successful organisational change must therefore be associated with some form of cultural change if it is to endure.

The Chapter considers the nature of transformational change, noting how it is often rapid and dramatic in nature. This is compared to incremental change which promotes smaller, more gradual revisions, which may be easier to sustain and embed. Considering these two dynamics supports a subsequent examination of Gersick’s ‘punctuated equilibrium’ (1991) which argues that organisations may evolve and experience periods of incremental change broken up by more transformational, rapid changes. The Chapter notes how incremental change is generally considered to be more beneficial to an organisation as it allows for more effective employee involvement which can encourage and support innovation.

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The importance and impact of leadership is also outlined, focussing on the impact of transformational leadership. The need for leaders to act in a manner which encourages and inspires collective involvement in order to achieve the vision of the organisation is seen to be particularly important.

Kotter’s eight-stage change model (1996) is examined, considering how it seeks to support the creation of a climate for change whilst also taking a sustainable approach that is more likely to lead to successful implementation. The key steps - establishing a sense of urgency, forming a coalition, creating a change vision, communicating the vision, empowering others, creating a culture of visible short-term wins, maintaining momentum and embedding change - are explained in context. Lewin’s Change Process (1947) is also cited, noting how this higher-level process model consider the importance of ‘unfreezing’ i.e. taking the time to prepare the organisation for change. Only then can implementation take place and one completed necessary ‘refreezing’ should take place (i.e. embedding the changes made). The importance of creating change objectives that effectively consider what needs to be done to make sure that the revisions made are permanent is therefore emphasised.

The Chapter also provides a summary as to the key reasons why numerous corporate change initiative fail. These include the development of an unrealistic vision, poor communication and engagement, a lack of credibility and ineffective leadership. These issues reinforce the inevitable resistance to change which can be rooted in fear of the unknown, a lack of trust in those leading and managing the process and a real or perceived loss of control by those affected. These factors can be further exacerbated if the organisation has to undertake radical, short-notice or immediate change, as it is then difficult to effectively involve employees. As a consequence, the importance of understating cultural concerns (through effective employee engagement programmes) and the need to consider cultural and well as organisational change is emphasised.


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