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This report states my individual reflection during the process of learning ‘CHANGE MANAGEMENT’ module. This covers personal viewpoint of my experience on the issues of change. The later part of the report argues on the constructive and destructive role of resistance as a part of change process. This analysis is applied to the organization (water utility) where change has been experienced.
“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the intelligent, but the ones who are most responsive to change”- Charles Darwin
“to cope with a changing world, an entity must develop the capacity of shifting and changing of developing new skills and attitudes, in short, the capacity of learning” – A De Gues, The Living Company
This report has been written as a part of my module course work to state my personal views and experience on various issues of change. The report also emphasizes on the resistance to change and its impact on the change process.
I was a bit tensed before the module started because as a database student I had no prior knowledge of change management but after the completion of the module I have gained pretty good knowledge on change management in an organization and issues involved in it.
In today’s economy, change is all-pervasive in organizations. It happens continuously, and often at rapid, because change has become an everyday part of organizational dynamics. There are 2 types of work in an organization viz. normal delivery process, where the main business of the organization is done and the change activities, whereby necessary change is made to the business and the way it is done. Change externally appears to be changing jobs, places, products etc. but actually occurs first inside people’s heads. It has both positive and negative effects.
Change Management can be defined in 3 ways:
The Task of Managing Change: It is the task of managing change. Managing change itself has 2 meanings. Firstly, it refers to the making of change in a planned and managed or systematic fashion. The aim is to implement new methods and systems in an ongoing organization. This type of change occurs in information system development projects. Secondly, it refers to the response to changes over which the organization exercises little or no control.
An Area of professional Practice: There are change management experts/change agents who claim that they help clients manage the changes they face or help the clients make changes.
A Body of Knowledge: There is large, reasonably cohesive albeit elective body of knowledge underlying the change management practice and on which most practitioners agree. It consists of various models, methods and techniques, tools, skills and other forms of knowledge. All the practitioners are integrated by set of concepts and principles known as General Systems Theory (GST).
WHAT HAVE I LEARNT?
From the course module “Change management and Systems Implementation” I have learned:
Definition of Change management: As described above.
Nature of change: Before implementing change the nature of change is analysed. Three various levels of change are understood viz.
Alpha Level Change
Beta Level Change
Gamma Level Change
The Change Process: The process of change has 3 basic stages:
This is based heavily on Kurt Lewin’s Adoption of the systems concept of homeostasis of dynamic stability.
Force-Field Analysis: identify driving and restraining forces and try to increase the driving forces and reduce the restraining forces.
Human Issues in Change – Resistance to Change.
7- s Framework.
Culture and Strategy in Change Management.
Various personality types involved in CM.
From the overall module, the topic Resistance to change excited me a lot. I enjoyed that session in class and have also done extra reading and research on that topic from web. The later part of the report describes my views on various issues of Resistance to Change in any organization and how I applied those issues to the organization where change has been experienced.
RESISTANCE TO CHANGE:
Resistance is an inevitable response to change and will exist in any organization. It may happen at all levels of an organization. It is the action taken by individuals and groups when they perceive that a change that is occurring as a threat to them. It can stimulate healthy discussion. Resistance is the last thing management wants during change process. In many instances if pervasive, resistance to change will have detrimental effects for the whole program. It may bring the change into disaster or worse collapsing the whole organization. It must not be ignored.
Resistance may take many forms, including active or passive, overt or covert, individual or organized, aggressive or timid.
Initially resistance was seen as an unfavourable thing – a harmful problem that must be immediately resolved in anyway in order to achieve a successful change. In the early days Management experts agreed that resistance will bring nothing but unconstructive consequences to management as there was lack of support from people especially at management level.
Waddell in her journal Resistance: a constructive tool for change management (1990) has found that resistance to change has long been renowned as a negative factor that may influence the success of any change process.
She was supported by many experts like McGuire in her journal How to manage change (2003), Mabin in Harnessing resistance: using theory of constraints to assist change management (2001), Teare in Learning from change (2002), Karyn in her case study identifying resistance in managing resistance to change (2002) and Dym in his PhD paper Resistance in Organisations: How to Recognise, Understand & respond to it (1999).
Mabin found a survey that reveals the prerequisites for a successful change – vision, mission, culture, communication and leadership. If those pre-requisites are not met the whole change will fail “due to what is often termed as resistance to change” (Mabin, 2001).
Teare from his analysis of different scenarios of changes argues that the best suited managers are those with entrepreneurial type – who would examine problems as whole, willing to take risks to challenge conventional practices and “view change as an opportunity rather than threat” (Teare, 2002).
The 4 factors for failure in managing change are:
Lack of consistent leadership.
De-motivated staff kept in the dark.
Lack of capacity: budget cuts, no spend-to-save policy, short-term approach to investment, stressed out staff working hard just to stand still.
Lack of initiative to “do something different”.
McGuire listed 4 key factors for success when implementing change within an organization:
Pressure for change – demonstrated senior management commitment is essential for change.
“Leadership is getting others to do what they want to do because they want to do it” – Eisenhower
Pressure is the 1st thing that triggers change and “it may come from external or internal organization” (McGuire, 2003). A positive message should be communicated throughout the organization of the need and the case for change. Senior management should be supportive both privately and publicly and their commitment and the drive for change is essential if momentum is to be maintained for effective implementation.
Teare concern was more on “organizational de-layering” (Teare, 2003).
A clear,shared vision – must take everyone with you. This is shared agenda that benefits the whole organization.
“Business are nothing more or less than organizational of people trying to a jointly defined future” – Professor Howard H Stevenson, Harvard Business School.
The managerial level of the organization should not only work towards the change process but they have to be able to see the vision and institute the change plan to finally achieve this vision (McGuire, 2003). Teare suggested that organization must focus on its desired outcomes during the change process. The managers should be motivated with recognition of their achievements and should participate in change learning process.
Exploring Capabilities – Provide the resources time and finance.
“More business is lost every year through neglect than through any other cause” – Jim Cathcart
According to McGuire organization should analyse its capabilities in dealing with change. It needs to know its existing capabilities, the abilities those may be required during the change process (McGuire, 2003).
Action Plan – ‘plan, do, check, act’ and keep the communication channels open.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle
Follow the management methodology
PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT
A handy formulae to deal with resistance positively and effectively is
D x V x F = R, where:
D = Dissatisfaction
V = vision
F = First (or next) steps
R = Resistance to change
This says that Dissatisfaction, Vision, and First Steps are all necessary in order to overcome Resistance to change.
The model most commonly used to illustrate elements of change and resistance to change is lewin’s force-field analysis:
According to this model, pressing for change threatens stability and thus increase the power of forces maintaining the system. The most effective way to bring about change is to reduce the forces of resistance. Both forces (change and resistance to change) exist within the “system” and if the system depicts an interaction, the forces need to be conceptualized as interactive.
According to kotter and Schlesinger (1979), there are four reasons that certain People Resist Change:
Parochial self-interest – some people are concerned with the implication of the change for themselves and how it may affect their own interests rather than considering the effects for the success of the business.
Misunderstanding – communication problems and inadequate information.
Low tolerance to change – certain people are very keen on security and stability in their work.
Different assessments of the situation – some employees may disagree on the reasons for the change and on the advantages and disadvantages of the change process.
The main reasons for employee resistance are
A lack of awareness about the change i.e. when the reason of change is unclear. Ambiguity – where it is about costs, equipment, and jobs – can trigger negative reactions among users.
Comfort with the ways things are and fear of the unknown.
When the proposed users have not been consulted about the change, and it is offered to them as an accomplished fact.
When the change threatens to modify established patterns of working relationships between people.
When the communication about the change – timetables, personnel, monies, etc. has not been sufficient.
When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved.
When the change threatens jobs, power or status in an organization.
Fear of failure.
Loss of status and/or job security.
Lack of tact and/or poor timing.
Disruption of cultural traditions and/or group relationships.
The risk of change is seen as greater than the risk of standing still.
People have no role models for the new activity.
People fear that they lack the competence to change.
People feel overloaded and overwhelmed.
People have healthy scepticism and want to be sure new ideas are sound.
People fear hidden agenda as among would-be reformers.
People anticipate loss of status or quality of life.
People genuinely believe that the proposed change is a bad idea.
The different ways to deal with resistance to change are:
Facilitation and Support: Where people are resisting change due to adjustments problems, Managers can head off potential problems by being supportive of employees during difficult times. Managerial support help employees deal with fear and anxiety during transition period.
Education and Communication: Where there is lack of information or inaccurate information and analysis. Educate people about the change effort beforehand. Up-front communication and education helps employees see the logic in the change effort, this reduces unfounded and incorrect rumours concerning the efforts of change in the organization.
Participation and involvement: Where employees are involved in the change process emotionally. When their hands are dirty, they realize that dirt is not so bad, after all. They also justify their involvement to themselves and so persuade themselves that is the right thing to do.
Negotiation and agreement: When the other person cannot be easily persuaded, then they have to be given order. The manager has to sit them down and ask what they are seeking. Work out a mutually agreeable solution that works just for them and just for you.
Manipulation and Co-option: Where the other tactics will not work or are too expensive. Co-option involves patronizing gesture in bringing a person into a change management planning group for the appearance sake rather than substantive contribution. These leaders can be given symbolic role in decision making without threatening the change effort.
Explicit and Implicit Coercion: Where speed is essential and to be used only as last resort. Managers can explicitly or implicitly force employees into accepting change by making clear that resistance to change can lead to losing jobs, firing, transferring or not promoting employees.
Depending on the degree and type of performance gaps, different organizational change interventions are designed to conserved resources and effectively close those gaps.
The best way to understand resistance to change is to use the change management worksheet. This should be filled out separately by people in an organisation and then discussed. This tells the reasons why people in your organization resist change.
RESISTANCE TO CHANGE IN BRITISH GAS :
British Gas was formed in 1940 and it commenced its operation in 1948 with the mission of supplying gas in Great Britain. By 1950 it became one of the monopolies among the various gas providers in the market.
There vision is to be a leading supplier of energy and related services in there chosen market and to build position in Europe.
There mission is to create value for there share holders and to provide cost effective services for optimum satisfaction of the customers by enabling good environment. They view them selves as partners with there customers, suppliers and share holders by creating value and prosperity for all the stake holders and there respective community at large.
The main aim for change in this company to improve customer service in order to save time and improve corporation competitiveness.
BRITISH GAS IN THE PAST
In the past British gas had very complex system. The staff has to use different software for different queries. Customers services are not up to the mark as the salutation and DPA was very lengthy and customers has to wait for long time in the queue to get there queries resolved. There were different department for different services.
British gas followed the strategy safari ‘planning school’. The new changes and implementations include drastic change in IT, better customer service user friendly software, maintaining integrity, training and recruiting new staff and providing more choices to the customer.
The level of change in British gas is Alpha change. The alpha change includes implementation of effective software in order to improve customer satisfaction, improved IT infrastructure which leads to success in their business. Through the change is small its implications are large.
From the Force-Field analysis, the driving forces and restraining forces are identified. The driving forces include:
Customers willing to change to the new system.
Later support from the staff (Willing to work overtime to get trained to new software.) though there was initial criticism.
Instant approval by management members to change the present system.
The restraining forces include:
Few staff unwilling to adapt to new software as they have to get trained again.
Requires extra investments for developing, installing and maintaining new software.
RESISTANCE TO CHANGE:
As a customer service agent working in british gas I have experienced this alpha level change of software in the implementation of queries from the customers. The change was declared by higher management people (My team leader) very suddenly. There was a mixed reaction from the staff, some have welcomed the idea but few opposed it.
There was a initial criticism in the staff because of the following reasons:
Comfort with the way things and fear of unknown.
Fear of failure.
Lack of awareness.
People had no role models.
The change was surprise.
Unwilling to adopt new system.
Different assessment of situations.
Though there was initial criticism, the staff later cooperated very well in the change process as the management as taken necessary steps to deal with resistance like:
They had facilitated the staff that had trouble working overtime to get trained to the new software.
They educated the staff the reason for change and benefits of new software (how it will be better to them.)
They got the people involved in the change process by encouraging them to take part emotionally.
They had to sit down and work out mutually with the staff on the implementation of change.
As there was pressure of drive from the management, communicated there vision to the staff in an understandable way and supplied the various available resources and acted upon the change towards its successful implementation. The staff later realized the advantages of new software as it reduced most of their work upon acting the queries from customers and made their job very easy and welcomed the idea without any contempt.
After completion of this module I gained enough knowledge about the concept of Change Management and its implications. I enjoyed the module thoroughly. This knowledge will be very much useful for me in the future understanding of the change process in any organization I work for. The various concepts covered in this module have been very useful. The case study has given a practical experience of what all I have learnt in this module by providing a real-life scenario.
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