Forces, Barriers, and Hindrances
Let review some areas that will need busting according to our text. First Structure, which is, change efforts that rely on people from many different areas to work together, sound natural, so why would this be a barrier to organizational change (Cohen 2005, p 118)? Maintaining the middle of the pack position through 1990 in terms of on-time departures without any serious motivation for the change was centered around the idea it was ok to be late as long as they were nice. This point of view was laid squarely at the feet of the then CEO Ray Vecci, who resisted any measures for mandatory on time requirements. This attitude undoubtedly was pushed down the workforce who generally blamed the system rather than face the real problem that Alaska Airlines were rarely on time. The workforce was proud of their great customer service reputation and believed that being efficient wasn't as important as being nice. However, this would soon be the downfall. The next area that will need busting is Skills – acquiring new knowledge, skills, and abilities will often accompany any organizational change, and this may lead to resistance and barriers from employees (Cohen, 2005, p119).
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This brings us to the 2010 strategic plan, focused on employees, customers, and shareholders. Alaska Air created several action plans to reduce their biggest expenses, which were in the area of labor. The company offers voluntary severance for management; they also closed several maintenance stations and consolidated some operations and finally outsources things like cleaning, facilities maintenance, and grounds keeping. The consequences of these changes lead to the remaining employee feeling bitter and concerned. The severance package leads to several managers with the experience and knowledge to accept the package and leave, which were then filled with short term hires. These measures had the opposite effect; labor cost began to rise.
The above changes also had a major impact on flight attendants, ramp workers, and pilot’s union contracts. All these contracts were being negotiated at the same time, creating a labor relations personal nightmare. The results of the negotiations hurt all labor actions and severely impacted the company's operational performance. The loyalty of their customer base was beginning to fail as on-time departure and arrival fell to almost 50 percent—time for a change in leadership.
I think you first must realize that resistance to change will happen because change can be messy. But one thing management can do to thaw the opposition and resistance to change to own the responsibility for the current situation the company is facing. Our text talks about the most serious challenge that comes with organizational change often will come from leadership and management; the very people that you need to push the change forward may pose the most resistance. Removing barriers is not just employee personal issues with change; its also removing ineffective processes that hinder companies' ability to create lasting impacts.
Employee resistance change for several reasons, when you know what they are, you are better able to recognize the resistance when it happens. Do you have a good exchange agent delivering the message for improvements to the workforce people like and most prefer stability and comfort over change? Some organizational changes will evitable lead to job losses, which is one of the major reasons resistance happens. When you know that their will bel job loss as management, you should expect and look for the resistance to happen almost immediately. This will lead to lack of trust and concern for the unknown Our text discusses two primary reasons for resistance to change: coherent obstruction, the
Method and vison are in contrasts about the way to approach the change and passionate opposition, which is a response against changing natural methods for getting things done" (Cohen and Kotter, 2005). Let’s review the obstruction point as it related to the baggage handlers. Alaska’s senior managers as a contingency to get in front of a strike outsource all the ramp operations. Replace 470 baggage handlers in one day. Everything went smoothly with the new vendor for ramp operations until bookings begin to increase, and the holiday season was rapidly approaching. The new vendor proved to be unprepared to deal with the volume; they were understaffed and undertrained.
To prepare for and even stop resistance begins with the realization that it will happen in our text Cohen talks about how leaders are sometimes caught off guard because that fail to recognize the sensitivity of opposition (Cohen, 2005). Leaders often time will shrug off the resistance to change by saying, “people resist change,” but there more to it than that. What is the underlying reason for the resistance? No techniques, no participation from the affect parties, no new strategies will work until you can answer the question if why are you resisting? Resistance sometimes comes from individual blind spots and attitudes that come about by preoccupation. Management can use resistance as an internal warning signal for timing the change at the right time.
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Enable and Empower
For Alaska Airlines to enable its workforce to carry out the new vision and save the company, there has to be an empowerment of motive, means, and opportunity. A few measures leadership could take to enable and empower people to help drive change are demonstrating support. Managers should agree with the change efforts but should also actively work to reinforce their efforts. Provide training and improve information systems through the organization that will assist the workforce in carrying out their new responsibilities.
Wins must be collected and communicated early and often to generate motivation for the processes to come. For Alaska Airlines, one significant short term win came in 2008 when Alaska air successfully wins the top spot in the JD Powers studies for the highest in customer satisfaction, then cam the Wave Award for best domestic airlines. But the best that demonstrated their turn around came in 2010-2011 FlightStats names Alaska Air, the winner in the North American arrival performance award with an on-time arrival record of 88 percent. The same company who didn’t believe that on-time arrival was important as long as they were nice. These wins were proof to the workforce that all the organizational change efforts that were put in that had indeed made a difference in the company’s bottom line and improved the standing with consumers.
Short terms wins are the fuel organizations will need to keep the momentum going, and the employees engaged short terms wins also prevent discouragement from growing with the ranks, and most importantly short term wins will remain silent your cynics and stop resisters the wins will be the evidence that validates the change efforts.
- Avolio, B. J., Patterson, C., & Baker, B. (2015). Alaska Airlines: Navigating Change. Harvard Business Review , 1-22.
- Cohen, D. S., & Kotter, J. P. (2005). The Heart of Change Field Guide: Tools and Tactics for Leading Change in Your Organization. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
- Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
- Newstrom, J. W. (2015). Organizational Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
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