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Organisations are changing rapidly in modern days. They change because they are open systems in constant interactions with their environments. External elements like suppliers, customers, the government, competitors and potential entrants into the market all utilize influence on organisations, saturating their boundaries to create constant needs for adaptations. Because organisations are dependent on the environment for resources and for absorption of their outputs, any change in the environment inevitably has effects on the organisations.
"Over the past decade, many companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors. Their efforts have gone under many banners: restructuring, turnaround, cultural change, downsizing, reengineering, total quality management, etc. But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment." (John P. Kotter, 1995)
Whether changes are in response to external or internal pressures or they are the result of managerial initiatives, whether they are gradual and limited or rapid and on a wide basis, they exist throughout the development of an organisation.
Furthermore, acquisitions enable firms to shake off their organisational inertia. Over time, firms become used to their standard way of doing business, more complacent, and less alert to new ideas and innovations (Vermeulen & Barkema, 2001).
enabling and inhibiting of the change process
Enabling factors of the change process
Some issues equip the change process:
Speedy - Organisation's competence to engage people in pending changes. An organization with good change agility has the capacity to stretch when necessary and quickly shift resources to the place they make the most difference.
Understanding - Ability to focus on new trends and future planning, opportunity for scanning the business environment are good change awareness practices in an organisation.
Reaction - Organisation's ability to appropriately analyze problems, assess risks and mange the reactions of employees. This internal focus ensures your company can sustain the day-to-day business while reacting in a timely and appropriate manner to self-initiated and market-dictated change.
Mechanisms - Ability to integrate a change into existing systems, accountability for results and reward systems that reinforce desired change behaviours. This contextual focus is critical to the ability to implement desired change with no interruption to daily operation.
Inhibiting factors of the change process
In traditional Chinese culture, there is age grading; that is, older people are assumed to deserve more privileges, including promotion. Rewarding seniority encourages loyalty and commitment which may stabilize the relations among the employer and the employees. In Hong Kong, seniority is used as a basis for promotion in many Chinese organisations. Hence tenure is an important feature of an employee in a typical Chinese organisation. Over the past years, many employees have come to regard seniority as a way of getting ahead. There are common cases to support the view that some young Chinese executives also rate seniority as an important factor of getting respect and status in a firm or in the industry.
Employees who serve a firm for a long time and show loyalty are respected by the management. Some Chinese firms have special ceremonies and activities to send their regards to long-service employees, such as presenting them long-service pins during the company anniversary or inviting them to testimonial dinners. Hence greater seniority normally means greater job security in Chinese firms.
Some issues restraint the change process:
Stress - Organisational stakeholders will resist change to protect the interests of a group as well as senior managers resist change to protect their work group. This will also apply to employees who to protect their co-workers.
Politics - Some of the seniors in an organisation concerned to fight for even more power, more financial resources and more people resources. All organisational politics has a negative impact. As a result, the organisation and its employees are the ones who suffer.
Fear - Employees are usually mistrust their abilities to perform their duties when broaden changes on their job. They are worried about they cannot adapt to new work requirements so as to resist these changes.
Motivations - By adopting intensify rewarding systems, organisational reward systems must be diversified to support the change that management wants to implement. The change does not have to always be major. Without a reward, there is no motivation for employees to support the change over the long term. Organisational stakeholders will resist change when they do not see any rewards.
If a job requires an extended learning period, the length of service ought to be correlated with ability. Certainly, over time, an employee learns more about the organisation and its special requirements. However, over an extended period of time, some long-service employees develop such ritualistic devotion to less important details and avoidance of making mistakes; hence they lose their ability to adjust to new challenges.
There are important traditional values for Chinese employers and workers to have in common, such as placing high value on work, diligence, frugality etc. Chinese preferences for small units of production, close personal relationships, and giving of 'face'" were the shared set of behaviour patterns in Chinese firms. Moreover, the role 'face' in organisational relationships in Chinese firms is strongly affirmed.
Organisational culture and structure management
Organisational culture acts as a map that influences the way organisational members define events in the workplace.
Jossey-Bass, San Franciso; Schein, E.H. (1988) noted:
"The process of learning an organisation's culture involves learning the beliefs, assumptions and expectations others have and how to act in terms of these particular values and norms."
Deetz, S. (1982) stated that:
"The cultural approach focuses attention on the processes by which the meanings of organisational events are produced and transmitted through communication."
It is apparently that within this framework, reality is socially created as employees observe their colleagues' responses to various events and interpret these experiences. The transition process, in time of organisational change, involves constant realignment of assumptions and expectations by all organisational members as they interpret and begin to make sense of their new tasks, role relationships, and work environments.
Judi Brownell (1990) further expounded:
"This is often a long and complex adjustment process, since employees must gradually change their perceptions of "the way things are" and ultimately reconsider their basic values and beliefs about the organisation."
Therefore, changing organisational culture often presents the most vexing and challenging aspect of leading organisational change.
As experienced in the past on organisational culture, by definition, is difficult to change. It is built up over many years and based on many interpretations and stories. The institutional memories and routines that codify culture are not easily erased. In fact, culture's resistance to change is both its strength and its weaknesses. Culture change at an enterprise level is possible, but requires a long time.
In changing organisational culture, there are three critical areas that need to be addressed and resolved:
The vision of the new culture;
What and how to change; and
When and where to change.
The first starting point for culture change is developing a vision of the new culture. I suspect however, that during a period of organisational change, the cultural vision must build on the new corporate identity and values. Typically, this is an in-depth effort conducted by the chief executive and the senior team. A great deal of time goes into debating choices and agreeing on language. This is an essential effort; care must be taken to guard against spurious agreements. Each member of the senior team must understand the meaning of the new cultural values. In addition, those values must be tested against the new view of the business. They must be consistent with the organisational context and the business vision.
The vision of the new culture must be followed with leadership attention and support. These occur both in the organisational context - building systems that are supportive of and congruent with the new cultural values and also in specific interventions - events and actions that directly target behaviour.
McSparran & Edmunds (1996) wrote:
"A change in culture means a change in the way people do their jobs and for people to make a commitment to change, management must find creative ways to preserve and reward changed behaviour."
I firmly believe that leadership is essential for successful culture change. Cultural leadership is typically drawn from the chief executive, the senior team, captain and key catalysts. The chief executive must be intimately involved; he or she must be seen as truly committed to the change and deeply involved in it. But to truly "take", the change must move beyond the chief executive. The senior management team must also be able to describe and live the new culture. Finally, culture change is most successfully when there are also key champions at all levels of the organisation. Supporting voices must be heard from all quarters, or else the change is viewed as a passing executive fancy. As part of the development of the cultural vision, leaders must ensure that the values fit the organisational context and that the organisational context fits the values.
Often, values are so abstract that any behaviour can be justified. Statements that pose one value as superior to another are particularly helpful because they give employees a sense of priority. In fact, this is one way in which values are demonstrated - by taking precedence over other motivations. One of the important things to change is what the organisation pays attention to. Information and communication are strong indicators of culture and powerful shapers of behaviour. Interventions to support change include feedback sessions, rewards and punishments, educational events, stories, new rituals and so on.
The traditional organisational form is the bureaucratic structure. A bureaucratic structure reflects a system of work structure based on standardized procedures, formal division of responsibility and hierarchical authority structure. The bureaucratic structure was the ideal and most efficient form of structuring organisations. Typically then, bureaucratic organisations are functionally or divisionally structured with centralised authority spanning several levels of management. Functional structures group employees according to similar skills, knowledge and training to perform the same function. The organisation is then a collection of the different functional units necessary for its operations. Divisional structures on the other hand are based on products or geographic locations and bring employees of different functional skills together under one unit. Divisions therefore perform a complete service or produce complete products within the single unit.
All the staffs that operate on the basis of written records and are employed and work in accordance with the following criteria are bureaucrats. Ian Thynne & John Goldring (1987) listed:
They are subject to authority only with respect to their impersonal official obligations.
They are organized in a clearly defined hierarchy of offices.
Each office has a clearly defined sphere of competence.
The office is filled by a free contractual relationship.
Candidates are selected on the basis of technical qualifications.
They are remunerated by fixed salaries in money with a right to pensions.
The office is treated as the primary occupation of the incumbent.
There is a system of 'promotion' according to seniority or to achievement.
Only those who could exercise authority within an inquiry office could be called as bureaucrats. In a private sector, sometimes the very 'front line workers' like the bellboy, waiters, are also described as street-level bureaucrats because they exercise authority over a relevant public sector. Therefore the concept of bureaucrats can be extended from those who exercise authority at the inquiry office level right down to staff who comprise an essential part of the administration of policy and the exercise of an organisation.
Creating successful organisation change
Change management is the process of modifying an existing organisation. The purpose of organisational modification is to increase its effectiveness; that is, the extent to which an organisation accomplishes its objectives. These modifications can involve virtually any organisational segment and typically include changing the lines of organisational authority, the levels of responsibility held by various organisation members, and the established lines of organisational communication.
I understand that a change for an organisation should be adapted to environment. Change may be the choices managers make about their interactions with the environment or it may be the result of environmental forces over which decision makers have no influence.
Child (1972) argues that
"The dominant coalition can make strategic choices to adapt proactively rather than react to environmental changes"
He thinks organisational decision makers can choose which environment or market to operate in, what kind of technology or control systems to employ, and can manipulate or control the environment. In some cases, directors of large organisations may have sufficient power to influence conditions in the environment. This means environmental influence is not deterministic.
For Joyful Resort Hong Kong, most managers agree that if an organisation is to be successful, it must change continually in response to significant developments, such as changes in customer needs, technological breakthroughs, and new government regulations. The study of organisational change is extremely important because all manager at all organisational levels are faced throughout their careers with the task of changing an organisation.
To increase organisational effectiveness, then, managers must increase the appropriateness of the relationship among people, structure and technology within the organisation. Two commonly used steps managers can take to help determine what changes would increase the appropriateness of this relationship is to conduct:
An internal organisational diagnosis and
An external organisational diagnosis.
An internal organisational diagnosis is the examination of all factors within an organisation that relate to the effectiveness of the organisation. People, technology, and structure, as discussed earlier, are the primary focus of this examination. The relationship among these three variables is studied in an attempt to pinpoint and implement changes that will make the relationship more appropriate for the organisation. Increasing the appropriateness of this relationship will enhance organisational effectiveness.
An external organisational diagnosis is the process of examining all outside factors that relate to organisational effectiveness. External diagnosis is essentially an analysis of the environment in which the organisation functions. The purpose of external diagnosis is to ascertain the potential impact of the organisational environment on the organisational effectiveness of the relationship among people, and technology within the organisation.
The type of change to make is a third major factor managers should consider when changing an organisation. Although managers can choose to change an organisation in many ways, most changes can be categorized as one of three types: people change; structural change; and technological change. These three types obviously correspond to the three main determinants of organisational effectiveness.
The need for change is so usual within an organisation to rebel against to change. Managers have an especially difficult job, because after they have decided to make an organisational change, they are met with resistance from organisational members aimed at preventing the change from occurring. This resistance generally exists because organisation members fear some personal loss as a result the proposed change.
Since resistance typically accompanies proposed change, managers must be able to reduce the effects of this resistance to ensure the success of needed organisational modifications. Resistance usually can be reduced by following several generally accepted guidelines and by considering implementing change on a tentative basis. The following are some guidelines recommended to managers: avoid surprises; promote real understanding; set the stage for change; and to make tentative change.
At the present moment Joyful Resort Hong Kong has just started the change process and still in the beginning stage of the culture formation cycle. The process will probably take some time before results can be seen. As the process is long, continuous reinforcement is required within the organisation. Celebration of wins can be a powerful reinforcement and validation of the strategies and vision.
The culture change in Joyful Resort Hong Kong is requiring a change of mindset from internal maintenance to external positioning. This presents a big challenge to a 21 years old resort with a team of long service staff particularly among the management level. The change is even more challenging to a resort which had enjoyed enormous success, both within the company and in the industry, in the past.
Since the project is corporate headquarter-driven and the fact the Joyful International Resort is a big company, the change is a mechanistic process with policies and procedures to follow in order to maintain consistency within the company. Culture change is a long process and can easily take more than a decade as it involves changing the underlying assumption and values of individual. For Joyful International and Joyful Resort Hong Kong the change has just started and is still in the early stage of formation. Therefore it is difficult to identify if there is any significant progress.