In reality, change involves leadership as well as management. Change leadership requires some very special qualities in the person leading the change. Leadership styles matter and can impact everyone within an organization. Change is an emotional business. The failure to address the human impacts of change is at the root of most failed change initiatives. It is not enough just to "manage" change; people need to be led through change. This is more to do with "being" than "doing". What you do, and how you do it will be largely determined by how you are as a person. Managing change is a messy responsibility and is often complex. There are three challenges that managers face today when managing change. One challenge is leaders managing change effectively, the second is cultural changes and thirdly, employees resisting change. Each challenge will be defined and ways to deal with that particular challenge.
Leaders Manage Change Effectively
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In many organizations, it is important for leaders to create an atmosphere where employees are willing to accept change and commit to any psychological and physical energy towards it (Cummings & Worley, 2009). Not all leaders are equipped with the knowledge or competencies needed to manage changes within the organization. While upper level management employees can deal with complex issues, most are unable to successfully manage change. There can be many types of changes that need to be managed by leaders, and each one may affect others strongly more than others. For example, operational changes can affect the way a business operates. Operational changes tend to have their greatest impacts at the lower levels of a business. People working at the upper levels may not notice any changes that cause stress, job uncertainty, and turmoil to those attempting to implement the changes. Strategic changes can alter a business's strategy by changing the direction or focus that an organization originally had, which can impact the business and its stakeholders.
A real-life example involves a non-profit organization that I previously worked for. Due to limited funding, and the lack of increasing membership and business sponsorships for our organization, my employer was force to alter the way our organization obtained funding. The CEO appointed his CFO to become the change agent, to lead and oversee the changing process that was approved. The CFO started cutting recruitment, staffing, and reduced employee's benefits without consulting HR or employees. The outcome of this change resulted in the CFO leaving during the peak time of the changing process due to "stress," leaving stakeholders disoriented and the organization in a negative limelight. To deal with this type of challenge it is important to understand that good management alone is not enough, and making abrupt decisions without strategically thinking it through can prevail disaster. According to D.M. Woodruff who is the founder and president of Management Method, Inc. states that "It is necessary for management to: 1) plan the changes carefully; 2) clearly communicate with employees; 3) analyze the entire process; 4) overcome resistance; and 5) provide real leadership. The entire process rests on the foundation of trust that is built by the way managers perform daily" (Woodruff, 2001). Management has to acknowledge that a focus on people before process in the long run can be more productive than a job or task centered focus. Getting the balance right between a task orientation and people orientation and knowing when and where to move to the most appropriate position on that spectrum. Next, leadership is required. The leadership in some way transcends short-term goals and focuses on values and higher order needs and provides meaning for people, which also addresses any deepest fears by people.
The cultural of an organization can be defined as a unique, custom values, beliefs, traditions, and processes that shape the environment and the employees within a business. An organization's culture can be incorporated within their mission statement and governs the way the owner and employees think, feel and act and can be embedded in slogans, and symbols (Entrepreneur, Inc, 2011). When an organization undergoes change management, often times the corporate cultural is affected and can impact stakeholders. A change in the model or methodology that an organization has can also alter the culture and promote cultural change if its purpose reflects that it is not working properly. Cultural change is a reorganization, and restructuring of the organization and the environment within.
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At my previous job, the CFO prepared to change the culture of our company and employees were resigning because of it. Changes included employee unable to wear casual attire, no more teleworking capabilities, no flexible work schedules and tuition reimbursement is offered to employees after working within the company for four years. Employees were also unable to work extra hours throughout the week to offset a day off within the week (e.g., work 10 hours for four days to have the fifth day off in the same week).Again the CFO, did not discuss any of his strategies within the strategic management meeting with HR and employees were blindsided when they heard the news. As a result, employees started leaving the organization. To deal with this particular challenge in cultural change, it is important to identify cultural problems within an organization an organization to malfunction. The first step is for an organization to understand its current culture, what it does for them now. The second step includes an organization identifying the new direction it wants to go and develop a strategic plan of what it is going to take to get there, how it will be done, and short and long term goals establishing a timeline for the new culture. Also address if the new culture is aligned with the organizations vision and purpose. The third and final step, which is often the hardest, is getting employees within the organization to commit to the culture change by changing their behavior. Most employees will not change their behaviors unless they observe their role models within their organization accepting the change.
Resistance to Change
Resistance to change is the most common and ongoing issue within any organization. Resistance to change is defined as one or more individuals opposing or struggling with modifications or changes that alter the way things are done within an organization. Employees can resist change publically or verbally through various communication avenues within the workforce such as phone calls, e-mails, conversations among other co-workers, attitudes or unresponsive to delegated requests. When employees resist change, it can impact the success of an organization. One example that comes to mind is my experiences working in an organization whose employees were resisting change due to the newly developed HR department. At one time, the organization was extremely small, employing only 10 employees and has now grown close to 100. Employees were subjective to contact the HR department for anything, including name changes, benefits, requesting time off or issues with pay. Employees continued to go to their supervisors for such request or actions and supervisors processed such requests instead of help implement the new change. This caused tension against the HR department, employees and supervisors that went on for almost two years. To deal with this challenge, it is important as the leader to accept that employees will resist any changes. The first step is incorporating any ideas that employees would like to share and involve them in the changing process. Next, define the reason for change by creating written strategic document. Third step includes being communicative, open and honest. "Lack of adequate information fuels rumors and gossip and adds to the anxiety generally associated with change. Effective communication about changes and their likely results can reduce this speculation and ally unfounded fears" (Cummings & Worley, 2009). Next, create various training programs and webinars to assist employees with the change. Finally, provide employees an outlet to provide feedback or request assistance in the transition.