Organizational changes are inevitable that any organization must undergo, especially in the wake of increasing competition. However, change as a concept is widely misunderstood with no standardized way of comprehending it. This misunderstanding comes as a result of several reasons including the different environment in which organizations act as well as the different activities that they undertake. Even though change management as a management practice has been around for a long time, professionals are still finding it hard to differentiate change management and the normal organizational development practice. For instance, many professional managers tend to think that change management involves addition or deletion of positions in an organization. Similarly, the same is applied to the minor changes like change in line of reporting or even title changes to the people working in a department as a reference to change management.
Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010)observed that change management is frequently thought of as the reduction of work force. However, they note that this perception is wrongly conceived given the fact that many factors can initiate the process of change in the organization. As such, Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010)view organizational change as one that is aimed at ensuring methods and procedures that are used in managing change in an organization are standardized to ensure efficiency and prompt handling of the process of change. In this regard, change itself is a well-thought action that must be premeditated upon by the management before initiation in an organization. Consequently, change management process, thus, ensures that the influence of the changes to the operations of the organization are minimized in terms of the quality service, but at the same time improving the way organization carry out its daily activities. Therefore, change management process is a step-by-process having a definite beginning and ending; although, one change may overflow into another process of change, thus, eliminating a clear distinction. From a non-professional point of view, change is consequently seen as a continuous process in the organization since there are no clear distinctions from one process to another and one process may take a long period.
With the increasing competition and the dynamics in the market that are characterized by new technologies and unpredictable customer needs, organizations need to embrace a continuous process of growth in terms of service delivery to the customers. The organizational development does not only mean that the organization is able to retain its customers but also that it remains competitive in the market (Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff, 2010). In this regard, organizational development must always be a well-planned and monitored process with well-defined goals. The goals should be geared towards maximizing the operations of the organization by ensuring efficiency and viability to respond to any changes that might occur. Additionally, organization development is a panacea to the realization of the organization’s mission, vision, and values with the view of achieving its objectives.
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As an important aspect of the organization’s operations, organizational development is, therefore, a responsibility that any vibrant organization must take seriously. Many organization management teams have special departments that solely deal with the issue of organizational development. The special departments are placed in charge of monitoring and controlling the various designs within the organization, changes that are either taking place or are anticipated, structuring other departments, directing the business processes such as marketing, production, and sales, and ensuring the procedures of the organization’s development as well as ensuring that maintenance are well adhered by all teams within the organization(Jones, Aguirre and Calderone, 2012). Organizational development is, thus, a subset of change management within an organization that touches upon all aspects that the organization is involved with. For an organization to realize development, change management must be carried out within the parameters that define the goals, missions, and objectives as stipulated in the policies of the organization. Evidently, there is a correlation between change management and organizational development and the two are regarded as supporting each other towards a defined goal.
According to Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010), change management involves the utilization of primary tools and structures with a view of controlling the organizational desire to do things differently. As the consequence of the change, many organizations cite the need to have better services or products at the shortest time and in an efficient manner as the motivation of managing change. Additionally, managing a change also aims at minimizing or avoiding the disruptions that might result from the changes that are initiated by the organization. An example is the disruptions from employees or withdrawal by the customers that the organization is serving. Furthermore, change management ensures that the products and services that the organization is selling continues to receive acceptance in the market and helps in giving the organization an upper hand over its competitors.
On the other hand, Jones, Aguirre and Calderone (2012) view the process of change management is the one that is involving a systematic approach and use of knowledgeable actions, tools, and resources to deal with new ways of operation. Therefore, an important aspect of defining and adapting to corporate strategies, procedures, structures, and technologies as a way of dealing with external and internal conditions and business environment are all included in managing change in an organization. Ultimately, this is done within parameters that uphold professionalism in ensuring that organizational development is achieved within the missions and goals of the organization.
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According to Change Management Learning Center (2012), change management involves the activities of defining and incorporating new values, norms, behaviors and attitudes in the organization. This is followed by a strong support for the new methods in order to reduce resistance from the employees to the implementation of those changes. In addition, a consensus is built among customers and stakeholders on particular changes, designed specifically for better service delivery. This is done through proper planning, testing, and implementing the parameters that define the move from the traditional way of doing things to the new way that is outlined by changes (Jones, Aguirre and Calderone, 2012).
Change Management Process Steps
Scholars of change management have identified different steps that are taken during the process of change management. Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010) list eight steps that are involved in the process of managing change in the organization.
Create the need for change
Kotler argued that for any change to occur there must be a need that is initiating that change. The need may be self-initiating or artificially initiated by the management of the organization in what he calls the creation of urgency. Creation of urgency involves identification of potential threats to the organization and speculating on what could happen if something is not done. It also involves examination of opportunities. This should be followed by discussion and sending the request for support from the stakeholders.
Formation of partnerships and coalitions
This should be aimed at convincing the stakeholders that there is a need for change. This step may be accepted with resistance by people who will view any change as a threat to their jobs or a way of doing things. Thus, it requires a strong leadership from the part of management. Once teams and coalitions are formed, there is need to emphasis the importance of working as a team through building more urgency and momentum towards the execution of change.
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Creation of a vision for change
This will ensure that great ideas are not lost in the process of change. A clearly articulated vision will be instrumental in bringing everyone on board so that they can support the process of change through their support of the new directives they are given
Communicate the Vision
The created vision is communicated adequately to the stakeholders through regular talks, open and honest address to the concerns, exemplary leadership. This means that management of change must fully involve and support the change themselves before expecting junior members to support the ongoing changes.
Removal of obstacles
Once the changes are anchored into the system, the next step is to identify and remove any existing obstacles through leadership, organizational structure and policies, rewarding good performances, addressing the concerns of resistors, and removal of barriers both human and material.
Incorporate the changes in the organizational culture
The changes initiated should be made part of the organizational culture through frequent talks and encouragement and inclusion of change ideals in hiring and training of employees.
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According to Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010), management of organizational change is an important practice in most of the large organizations and, therefore, must be part of the overall plan of ensuring organizational sustainability. In this regard, Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010)note that organizational sustainability is the organization’s conventional approach, as a linking system, from structural to configurational changes in the linkages as determined from the culture of the organization. Organizational sustainability, thus, is the overall goal towards which change management is focused.
The sustainability of the organization is enshrined through change management with the help of changes that are initiated in the mission, strategies, operational changes, technological changes, and the change in the attitudes, behaviors, and culture of the people that are involved in the operations of the organization. Thus, change management focuses on ensuring that the organization achieves the most sustainability means of carrying out its operations. As a result, successful change management that guarantees sustainable development in the organization inculcates virtues that are beneficial to the organization’s stakeholders (Kotler,Berger and Bickhoff, 2010).
Sustainability also means that the mode of communication from the top management to all employees and vice versa is effective in bringing all stakeholders in tandem with the process of change management within the organization. This means that each stakeholder will already have the answers concerning the ongoing changes and, therefore, be able to support them. Continuous employee training is important to keep the spirit of stakeholders within the process of change. Finally, sustainability will involve knowledgeable monitoring and implementation through minor adjustments to ensure achievement of the desired changes in the end.
Change Management Campaigning
Some organizational cultures and practices definitely act as barriers and obstacles to the implementation of changes in an organization. According to Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff (2010), change management should ensure that the spirit of change remains with all stakeholders until the process is fully implemented. This can be done through training, education, and demonstration sessions that are meant to keep the goals for change within the minds of the stakeholders. That is, change management involves a constant reminder to the stakeholder about the importance of having certain things done differently and the need to ensure that those things are actually done in a different way. This should be done through raising awareness in seminars. The organization management can decide to sponsor few members to seminars and conferences where the importance of change to organizations is discussed. Members who attend such seminars are then given the opportunity to explain what they learned to their fellow colleagues in an effort to build excitement and anticipation among people who are supporting the change.
Similarly, in order to encourage the activities that are directly related to the changes in the organization, the management can consider rewarding outstanding performance through ceremonial trophies such as rotational leadership where outstanding employees can buy products like t-shirts and caps from the organization’s store with the fake money. This will definitely make everyone to anticipate change and, therefore, do their best in terms of supporting the implementation of changes. Besides, the employees will be thinking about more creative changes that can be implemented, some of which the management may not have thought about before. In this way, change management will remain at the top of the agendas of organization employees and other stakeholders and, thus, lead to a well-supported and successful implementation (Kotler, Berger and Bickhoff, 2010).
Change Management and Organizational Development
The need for market transparency necessitated by labor mobility, global dynamics, and unpredictable changes in technology is forcing organizational management to develop the new measurement for organizational growth and development. Long ago, an organization could consider itself as having developed based on how much profit the organization was able to make during a given period. Thus, change management was not a big issue when it comes to gauging the development of an organization. This created a scenario described by Rosabeth Moss Kanter as “a culture that just keeps moving all the time.” (Jones, Aguirre and Calderone, 2012)
Organizational development is not only a measure of the profits that the organization is making annually but also the level of satisfaction amongst the employees and stakeholders in that organization. Thus, many organizations initiate changes that aim at reducing employee turnover, maximize profits, and satisfy the customers. Through effective change management, an organization can become effective and efficient in the delivery of services to the employees and customers. Organizational growth is, therefore, a function of effective change management that ensures each stakeholder is satisfied with the services and products that an organization is offering.
In the same way that organizational development plays an important function in any organization, change management is an essential process for the organization that expects to deliver products and services that are competitive, both within its environment and in the global environment. The two functions support each other in ensuring that an organization remains competitive in the market. As a result, proper change management is considered as a tool to ensure that the organization achieves development in terms of profitability and satisfaction to the employees and other stakeholders. Change management and organizational development are correlated concepts in the overall management of the organization (Jones, Aguirre and Calderone, 2012).
Thus, it is clear that change management is important to organizations. However, the benefits for a change management process can only be realized through clearly and well-defined need for a change. As it is shown in the discussion, the process of change management should start with the creation of urgency for a change in the operations of an organization. A slight deviation from building the right consensus in change management will definitely result in the failure of change management process and may have devastating repercussions in terms of employee turnover and financial loss to the organization.
Similarly, the formation of a team that shares the same vision in terms of the proposed changes in the organization is important in the successful implementation of change management. The team should include senior level management officer and leader in organizational change management. The team must also include departmental heads that have expertise in organizational change and out sourced agents whose areas of expertise is organizational change. Change management team should also be represented well by all interest groups in the organization, be cohesive, organized, and committed to the implementation of the proposed changes in an organization.
Since change management can effectively be implemented through teamwork, the selection of a team that will spearhead the proposed changes is very significant. Members of the team should possess characteristics that support the mission and vision of the change management team. As such, team members should be people who are regarded with high respect in their respective areas of specialization. They should have the genuine interest to oversee the implementation of a change program within the organization. This will ensure that team members do not derail the activities of the team. The team should also compose people with strong interpersonal skills that will be necessary for communicating the decisions about changes to other people.
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