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Why is it so hard for organizations to manage change? Essay

Jick (1993) defines change as “a planned or unplanned response to pressure and forces. Change is inevitable and organizations, which do not respond to change, are likely to struggle and may eventually, die. Change however can be painful and therefore needs to be managed, as the empirical evidence points to approximately 66% of major changes as failures. Fortune 500 executives claim that this is not because of a lack of resources but resistance to the change. Managing change will facilitate the achievement of strategic goals of the organization, which is its primary focus.

Change in an organization is influenced by two opposing forces: one that drives for change and one that resists. Driving forces may be external or internal e.g. a company’s source of funding is being increased or decreased or there is pressure to use technology while the resisting forces are usually internal e.g. group fears new ideas and prefers to do things the way they have always been done. In accordance with Lewin’s (1951) force field model this equilibrium must be disturbed in a planned way in order to bring about change.

Resistance to change may be experienced from two sources the organization and the individual.

Organizations, their various departments and subsidiaries are often as resistant to change as individuals frequently through their:

Design- a highly bureaucratic where there is little delegation of responsibility and autonomy for employees would not readily lend itself to change and systems such as JIT and TQM.

Culture – highly authoritarian and bureaucratic cultures are difficult to change

Resource limitations- the resources required may be considerable and unavailable

Inter – organizational agreements – these may prevent the organization from implementing any change which might be seen as a breach to the agreement

Individuals resist because of:

Fear of the unknown- change can be uncomfortable and awkward and familiarity of current working practices is less threatening to the psychological security of a person.

Perception – that the proposed change will affect how the organization works and their role in it. They may also see a threat to the values and beliefs they hold dear.

Habit – feeling upset when asked to do things differently from the old way. Human beings tend to be creatures of habit.

Threat to power and influence – see these as being undermined by the change taking place

Economic reasons – fear that compensation package may be adversely affected or that they may lose their jobs is likely to bring about resistance

Stone cites a number of other reasons, which include loss of confidence, poor timing, and work overload.

Resistance to change is normal and can be expected so the following strategies can be used to decrease the resisting forces to change in an organization thereby allowing for better management of the change process.

Strategies

Communication – provide adequate information to employees on the need for change in order to get their support. The purpose of the change must be clear and is likely to build ‘buy in’.

Participation – involving everyone in the planning from the beginning and respecting the viewpoints of other people. It is much easier for people to support something they have a stake in.

Support – extra time needs to be spent with those who are having difficulty accepting the change. The person driving the change must be seen as trustworthy and credible. Top management must visibly demonstrate commitment to the change, financially and otherwise.

Negotiation – work out a win-win situation for all parties involved. Match the personal goals of the members with the objectives of the change, as change will be resisted if it blocks personal goals.

If possible it is desirable that management guarantee that employees won’t be disadvantaged e.g. guaranteeing same pay and benefits even though they may need training to adjust to changes.

Certainty – fear of the unknown is a major cause of resistance – people get concerned and wonder what is going to happen to them, it is better to let them know exactly where they stand.

Counselling – non- threatening discussions and counselling can help diffuse rebellious and angry feelings and facilitate voluntary employee acceptance of change.

Reward – those who supported the change should be rewarded and not necessarily monetarily but more recognition of the attitudes that they wish to promote.

A transformational leader that is one who is a visionary, innovative, charismatic, and creative and who has the ability to influence his followers to share his vision of future accomplishments is best able to lead change in an organization. Such a leader empowers and respect his people and therefore is able to get the ‘buy in’ that is critical for any change to be successful.

Conclusion

Change like death and taxes is one thing we can be certain of and often it comes with many challenges. Organizations in order to change positively must rid it of any forces, which resist change and create a climate of acceptance and trust that will reinforce the new state of the organization. In order to do this the change has to be managed despite the difficulties in accomplishing this.


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