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To examine the implementation of change management in the public sector: A study of Royal Mail
To understand the need for change in business
To analyse the restructuring of the organisation
To discuss the implementation practices
To examine the obstruction of resistance
This programme of study continues personal research of recent organisational change within the public sector. Constant changes have become climacteric for organisations to maintain the competitiveness, particularly in constant and dynamic business environment (French and Bell, 1999). Fundamental change derives and supports the organisation’s competitive position. Further, adoption of improved managerial practices offer a route to organisation to reduce the cost, improve the service and productivity (Lewis et al, 2011). The study aims to provide the knowledge regarding complexities of change management implementation process within the organisations. Technological advancement has put intense pressure for manual labour oriented organisations to modernize and equip the business with innovative mechanism. The United Kingdom’s postal industry observes challenging circumstances as declining mail volume, competition and privatisation issues have forced the business to restructure the operational activities entirely to survive as a service. Company has accomplished the restructuring of operating centres in Kent region and Home Counties North, Hemel Hempstead (Royal Mail Group, 2013). Business has worked with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to highlight the significance of reorganising for the industry. The researcher desires to observe the change that has taken place, and examine the approach used by the business to implement the change in UK’s highly unionised sector.
Competitive environment, technological changes and globalisation is one of the essential reasons for organisations to transform and restructure their operational activities (Beer, 1997). Additionally, due to limited resources organisations have to adapt the techniques to be efficient, which certainly can increase the firm’s output (Lewis et al, 2011). Therefore, to stay competitive and efficient organisations have to re-examine and amend their activities (Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979). While ignoring the business environmental requirements can lead to unpleasant situation, as Badham et al (2003:715) stated that “looking at the fortune of 500 companies over the last few decades, 40 per cent of those who were there 20 years ago are no longer there”. Therefore, to handle the extrinsic or internal pressure organisation acclimate the new techniques. Similar to private organisations, public sector are obliged to reshape the operational activities by restructuring and re-organising.
Change has been defined as performing the aberrant activities of operations to obtain the premium results and consequences (Ford & Ford, 1994). Further, Huber et al (1993) explained that amending the established and traditional exercises, re-adjusting the resources and employee’s assignment can contribute to firm’s competitiveness. Schalk et al (1998) has described that change is an intended addition and origination of innovative procedures, which are required to undertake or administer a job contrastively, genuinely to acquire salient outcomes. The comprehensive anticipation of change and re-structuring of an organisation is to ameliorate and improve the productivity.
Change management has been defined as organised attitude to alter the organisations or individuals from contemporary position to an aimed destination adequately (Balogun & Hailey (2004). In a concise manner, change management has been described as a coadunation of two influential fields of thoughts, first an engineer or technician’s approach to ameliorate organisational performance and second a psychologist’s approach to govern the human side (Jansson, 2008).
Figure: Jansson (2008), p 4
Procuring the change efficiently the convergence of both elements is essential, change agent(s), the person(s) is responsible for executing the change efficiently in the organisation (Balogun & Hailey, 2004). Therefore, change manager’s role is to implement the strategic change and to deal with unexpected adversities, which may arise during the process. Beck (1987) categorised change in four distinctive origins: strategy, technology, culture and people. According to Beck (1987), strategic change aims to re-develop the place of an organisation in its environment, in this process the entire business reorganises the operational activities and adapts to anticipated situations. Cultural change seeks to transform the process within the corporate set rules, the intention of implementing the cultural change is to redefine and strengthen the interpersonal relation, goals and objectives. Technological change aims to facilitate the organisation with modern facilities, certainly to improve the productivity and reduce the business cost. And finally change of people seeks to produce new concepts and dynamics (Beck, 1987).
Chary (2007) predicted that public organisations are trying to be more competitive, reduce the operational cost by adopting modern technologies and acquire the efficiency. However, despite the necessity of change, public organisations observe difficult situations during implementing the change. Bourgeois et al (2008) claims that lack of managerial skills and experience is one of the key elements that prevent the change to materialise smoothly. The transition period may not be that easy for those employees, who have been working in the organisation for a long time. Arendt et al (1995) described that during organisational change, managers prioritize the technical issues of change while evade the psychologist or human aspects of change. Further, Arendt et al (1995) cautioned that by eluding the human element during change process can provoke the resistance and hindrances for the project.
Change is an uncertain and difficult procedure (Bourgeois et al, 2008), the success of change depends on the involvement of personals from the senior management and first line employees, therefore Kotter (1995) described 8 steps of change, which author would like to use during this research. According to Kotter (1995), the important step to ‘establish a sense of urgency’, initiating the process with feasible ‘communication’, which would establish the trust as well between employees and management. The next process is to develop ‘powerful guided coalition’, which would assist to lead towards change. Kotter (1995) mentioned to have a ‘vision’ and a plan to achieve that, Bourgeois et al (2008) stated that managers should brief the plan to employees, the communication channels must be used to update staffs regarding the state. The next stage is to ‘empower individuals’, this enables employees to genuinely involve with organisational structure, certainly would contribute to minimalize the hindrances and resistances. Further, Kotter (1995) elaborated that ‘creating short-term wins’ are essential to inspire employees, further encouragement is important by managers to implement the change successfully. The next step to ‘consolidate the improvements’, while not declaring the victory and finally ‘institutionalize the change’ into business culture, the important factor is to indicate the features regarding the new attitude and how it has facilitated to overcome the issues (Bourgeois et al, 2008).
There are numerous features that influence on change implementation within an organisation. The author highlights certain components, which have been clarified theoretically by several researchers before.
As shown in the figure that all the scholars have recognized the significance of managerial purposeful participation and support, further managerial involvement assists to reduce the possibility of project’s failure. Employees approach towards change could be diverging, encouragement from management to participate in change process would benefit the entire change process (Lanning, 2001).
The importance of communication cannot be overlooked, particularly to those, who would be affected by the change process. Effective communication enables to reduce the concerns that may arise during organisational change, while it also can assist the change process by staff’s feedback (Victorian Quality Council, 2006)
Figure: Lanning, H (2001)
Public sector’s employees establish values and norms due to long-term working history in the organisation, Cunningham et al (2009) argued that these set behaviour can obstruct or facilitate the change process. Further, the resilient elements arise due to lack of information shared with employees certainly can increase the cost of change implementation (Cunningham et al, 2009).
Royal Mail provides the postal service in the United Kingdom, the business has established a reputable position by providing jobs to around 160,000 employees (Royal Mail Group, 2013). Organisation collects, process and delivers the mail to 29 million addresses six days a week (Royal Mail Group, 2013). Over the past few years, business has struggled from lack of modernisation, industrial relations, pension deficit and technological interventions (e-mail) that undoubtedly has influenced the mail volume. Therefore, business has built modernised sorting office in Kent (UK) and in Home Counties North (HCN), while intending to expand this process of closing many of the old sites. This restructuring means closure of several operating centres including delivery offices. According to the company, to deliver the services in competitive environment, it will have to reduce the operational cost of by deploying new technology and restructuring of operating centres. For this research, author wants to discuss about the implementation process company adapted and how strong resistance had been managed in the entire process. The researcher desires to obtain the information from Kent and HCN project team along with managerial and employees point of views.
Parahoo (2006) mentioned that appropriate research design must acquire to explain the intended research question. Consequently for this case study, the author desires to attain the data from qualitative research, the method would comprehensively assist to investigate the idea and practicality of change management in the public sector. Answering own question “why people do qualitative research?”, Yin (2011) defines the characteristics of qualitative research. The giving description by Yin (2011), qualitative research allows the researcher to secure the prolificacy of individual’s daily life by managing and supervising a depth studies about researcher’s favourites.
As mentioned in research design that the author desires to gather the data from interviews, Yin (2011) labelled the interviews into two types despite various forms and shapes, one is unstructured and other is structured. Further, Yin (2011) explained that due to absence of persistent behaviour unstructured interview guides itself. While, alternatively structured interviews are designed to acquire the participants’ views regarding the selected study in the presence of precise script (Mason, 2002). The author aims to research the study with structured interviews, which would be carried out in those centres where change has been implemented. The semi structured interviews would allow the author to occupy comprehensive and detailed information, as Rubin and Rubin (1995) stated that researcher can obtain the sufficient explanation of ambiguous questions and queries during interviews. Further, qualitative research provides support to the investigator to scrutinise behaviour, attitude and extraordinary response with distinctive concentration (Burns and Grove 2009).
Qualitative data requires a distinguishing approach to analysis, further thoughtful systematic process is important for acquiring the textual context from the data (Polit and Beck, 2008). The data analysis allows obtaining and extracting the explanation from the qualitative data. According to Yin (2011), qualitative data analysis progress in five phases; Compiling, Disassembling, Reassembling, Interpreting and finally Concluding the data. Compiling involves re-reading and re-listing the gathered data, this allows researcher to familiarize with the material (Polit and Beck, 2008). Disassembling requires splitting the data into different categories, the whole process could be repeated several times until the required results are achieved. After that researcher can reassemble the, possibly into new categories to obtain the easiness. The interpreting stage seeks to construct the categorised data into chronicle shape, finally provide the conclusion to the research. The author would transcribe the interviews verbatim, the analysis of these transcripts material would be accomplished by using the five phases mentioned by Yin alongside with computer software Nvivo. Yin (2011) also admits the improved functionality of these ‘Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis’ Software, nevertheless highlights the complications one may observe to use these computer programmes.
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