Exploring the relationship between management success at implementing strategic change at Lakeland Wonders and Novotel, contrasting perspectives can be demonstrated. In particular, considering the four stages of communication in change dynamics (Ford & Ford, 1995), the new CEO of Lakeland Wonders (Sheryl) went from the first stage of initiative conversations to the third conversations for performance while bypassing conversations for understanding.
Generating understanding through conversation and developing communication to engage in recognising what is valuable and functional constitute an important part of resisting and shaping the change outcome.
Instead, in the Novotel case, communication in change went through all four stages: Initiative Conversations (‘open space’ meetings of hotel managers) Conversations for understanding (launch of ‘Reflective clubs’ and ‘Clubs’) Conversations for performance (‘Progres Novotel’) Conversations for closure (‘Progress groups’).
To a further extent, the approach to organisational change in the first case portrayed a behavioural and mechanistic perspective. The change agent in question attempts to forcefully and rapidly implement change by overlapping an understanding of the company’s culture and identity and the reactions of the organisational members, while in the process appearing to stand outside the undergoing change.
In order to achieve a stable change and shape new forms of behaviour it is of central importance to evoke meaning and be perceptive to the way people view things (Tsoukas, H. 2005).
Changes of greater complexity are likely to generate more negative and more intense emotions (Kiefer, 2004) and more resistance (George and Jones, 2001), and therefore require more careful management. At Novotel change was implemented through a discursive approach (Tsoukas, H.
2005) by establishing an excellent communication between all management levels (progress groups, reflective clubs and other meetings), by being perceptive and open to other people’s ideas (the name of the project ‘Back to the Future’ was suggested by a manager), and the potential to persuade others to move in another direction.
Sheryl missed understanding the reactions of the board in order to effectively install change, thus lacking the power for influencing others (Dahl, 1957). Attaining sustainable change and acceptance among organisational members envelops consensus, since members are less likely to become committed to decisions to which they disagree (Rune Lines, 2007). At Novotel, consensus was created through a dialectical framework during which change was stimulated by emerging view oppositions. For instance, managers requirements for more autonomy simplified the organisational structure.
Moreover, transformation at Novotel occurred by creating a sense of preserving the company’s original identity by adding renewal aspects and aligning the past, to the present and to the future. In Shery’s case, the approach to implement rigid steering change mechanisms by overlooking the set of assumptions of the board members sense of identity, induced defence mechanisms to preserve their existing identity.
To a further extent, organisational change at Novotel became aware to staff through a variety of mechanisms, from formal communication to other observable cues (R.K. Smollan, 2006), for example the appointment of two new CEO’s, abolishing the 95 boulons quality control, redefining the roles of managers and establishing flexibility tasks for front line workers. Moreover, response to organisational change at Novotel was received as positive and favourable. In the first steps of the building stage organisational citizenship behaviours (Organ, 1988; Spector and Fox, 2002) were reflected by encompassing a range of prosocial behaviours and resulting in an overall
increased effort such as helping others, showing initiative, altruistic actions and loyalty (R. K. Smollan, 2006). Furthermore, Sheryl’s transformational leadership to successfully implement change did not display any association with emotional intelligence (Ashkanasy and Tse, 2000). Key qualities of leaders with high EI are empathy and integrity (Parry and Proctor-Thomson, 2002). Emotionally intelligent leaders use personal power rather than positional power or authority (R. Gill, 2003).
Considering the uncertainty and negative emotions that accompany change, the ability to discern the emotional reactions to change of employees and board members enhances influence levels and provides the necessary support to the change process (Kiefer, 2004). Displaying an autocratic fashion behaviour by failing to address the concerns of people in the organisation and not devoting ample time and energy in building commitment, inhibits effective change implementation. Conclusion The core context of organisational change at Novotel and Lakeland reflected identity perceptions.
The extent to which organisational members conceive their identity influence’s the subsequent implementation process. Balancing the need for change with the motivation to preserve existing identity, determine the elements that contribute to the development of change capacity. Incorporating a company’s history by expanding it’s sense of identity, alters the perspectives on the change prescription. Moreover, building a series of interventions such as creating an understanding, building skills (for instance training Progres Novotel), gaining commitment enhances people’s motivation and consequently a favourable and sustainable change.
A further important factor is communicating the urgency for change as is in maintaining momentum. In addition, as equally important is providing meaning and purpose in influencing employees’ attitudes and intentions towards change. Underlying factors of resistance may improve implementation outcomes by minimising uncertainty and coping with change, understanding innovation and renewal ultimately shaping behaviours to gain involvement and sustained commitment to organisational change.
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