Identifying the need to change


In our current state, we as a small organisation are growing. As we take on larger customers we need to improve the look of our company building to change how we might be perceived. We need to increase our production and sales capabilities to meet the needs of our growing customer base and so we are looking to build an extension onto the front of our building. This will house a larger sales floor upstairs and a production area on the ground floor. The exterior of the new building will give the impression we are looking forward to the future and provide an emphasis of we are bigger than we are. We had some plans drawn up by an architect quite a few years ago. Back then we realised the time was not right, it was a big investment and the risk was too high. Since then the company has grown with a substantial customer base and we now feel the time is right to change. We are positive that we can implement this extension, that it will help increase our turnover and provide us with a competitive advantage.

Creating a strategy to implement change as a leader

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Whenever there is the opportunity for change we have to anticipate the resistance to it. Change is inevitable in almost any organization, and managers play an important role in whether employees will resist or accept and support the change. According to Kreitner and Kinicki (2004), change stems from both external and internal forces. External forces can include demographic characteristics, technological advances, market changes, or social and political pressures, while internal forces can include human resource problems or prospects, or managerial behavior or decisions (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004, p. 673). Change is often responded with negativity in the work place because it means someone has to step outside their comfort zone. Chew and Cheng (2006), state that employees experiencing change

"lose the comfort of the known and the familiar, the sense of competency they used to possess, the status and/or financial security they once enjoyed and networks they have gone at length to build" (Min Chew et al., p. 2)

I think as a leader we have to sell a positive vision of the future state to our employees. We need to explain what is beneficial to them to give them a greater sense of comfort and security. We need to get everyone to share the same passion and enthusiasm for the change. If we don't the change won't go smoothly and our staff may cause resistance because they can't see the benefits to themselves.

 In 1951, Kurt Lewin introduced a change model that includes three steps that an organization must go through to change: Unfreezing, Changing (also called Moving), and Refreezing. In the broadest sense, Mr. Lewin states that one must first motivate employees to change, second, provide information to employees, and third, help employees integrate the change (Kreitner & Kinicki, p. 677). I agree with Mr. Lewin's model, as it provides a broad overview of planned change, and it can be applied to a variety of industries and organisations; however, I do not believe that Mr. Lewin's change model is specific enough for 20th century organisations. Today's organisational manager has much more to consider than did the manager in the 1950s. Today's manager must understand employment discrimination, sexual harassment and be able to respond to a more diverse workforce than ever before. These facets of the workplace environment must be considered when managing change. For example, people with different cultural backgrounds may respond differently to changes or they may not clearly understand the need for the change. According to du Plessis, Beaver, and Nel (2006), "Culture, habits, tradition and frames of reference are factors to bear in mind before any business can implement any change" (du Plessis, Beaver, & Nel, 2006, p. 39).

In 1996 John Kotter, who is considered an "expert in leadership and change management" (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004, p. 682) provides an eight-step model (Figure 1) for leading an organization through change. This model is more specific and I believe provides a much more usable plan for change management, making Kotter's model easier to apply than Lewin's.

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John Kotter's Steps to Leading Organizational Change 1 Establish a sense of urgency 2 Create the guiding coalition 3 Develop a vision and strategy 4 Communicate the change vision 5 Empower broad-based action 6 Generate short-term wins 7 Consolidate gains and produce more change 8 Anchor new approaches in the culture

I think using these steps are essential for successful change because it helps map out a plan and create a vision of what needs to be done.