The rate of change that organizations are going through has continued to accelerate over the last few years and there are no reasons to believe that this trend will cease. This poses major challenges for managers throughout organizations but particularly those with responsibility for staff. During periods of rapid change, staff can often feel unsure, demotivated or downright angry about what is happening and a good manager will need strategies to deal with these emotions in their teams
Change in the work environment can often involve a significant project, such as the introduction of new technology, or something on a much smaller scale, such as the change of a local work process. Over the last two years, for example, the company that I work for has moved premises, introduced new computer and telephone systems, changed the staff appraisal process, restructured the management team, put in new staff working rotas and introduced two new teams, one for outbound sales calls and another for customer relationship management. All have placed great demands on managers and workers.
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With respect to the challenges that managers face in change management, a number will relate to effective communication. Initially the manager will need to ensure that all staff impacted by the change are fully aware of why change is taking place, what is going to happen and the timescales. Staff will be concerned about what is going to happen to them individually and poor communication will make this worse.
Communication during change can often be difficult and managers will want to make sure they use a range of different communication methods to get to staff. These may include face-to-face or team meetings, written communication and articles on the organization's internal web pages or Intranet.
Another major challenge is to get staff to buy into the change and acknowledge the benefits. Staff may be reluctant or unable to see any positive reasons why the change should take place. A good method to overcome any staff resistance is to make sure staff are fully consulted and that their ideas on aspects of the change are taken into consideration. A number of organizations appoint staff 'champions' drawn from the workforce to represent their colleagues on the change project.
An alternative way to get staff to see the benefits of the change taking place is to generate some 'quick wins.' These are things that staff can see have benefit and are generated early in the change process.
Managerial challenges in change management
The rate of change that organizations are going through has continued to accelerate over the last few years and there are There are a great many managerial challenges in change management which will require a very specific and talented type of. when introducing some new technology, an early attempt may be made to remove some manual processes that are time consuming or cause delays.
Managers will need to ensure that they follow an adequate plan for the change and that the project comes in on budget. Regular review meetings are key in this area.
Another challenge for managers in change management is to keep the momentum of the change going. Most people today have busy schedules and often a change will be started but then lose impetus as managers and key staff find it difficult to attend meetings or complete commitments. The manager will need to ensure he is disciplined in keeping the change project moving forward according to plan.
Finally, there is the challenge of ensuring that the change is totally embedded in the organization once completed. I recall a major change programme in my company where processes for dealing with customer faults were radically altered. When they were introduced, staff found the new processes alien and hard to follow and quickly reverted back to the old ways of working. Managers need ensure sure that staff have full input into the new ways of working, are fully trained on any changes and have support once the change has been made.
Change management is difficult and managers in organizations face many challenges to make it a success. The greatest challenge, however, often revolves around communication and ensuring all impacted parties have input and know exactly what is going on and the impact on them.
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Although all people communicate all the time, most have difficulty communicating effectively in conflict situations. Practicing communication skills can have a very beneficial effect on conflict management and resolution processes.
Roger Fisher and William Ury list four skills that can be learned which will improve communication in conflict situations. The first is active listening. The goal of active listening, they say, is to understand you opponent as well as you understand yourself. Pay close attention to what the other side is saying. Ask the opponent to clarify or repeat anything that is unclear or seems unreasonable . Attempt to repeat their case, as they have presented it, back to them. This shows that you are listening and that you understand what they have said. It does not indicate that you agree with what they said-nor do you have to. You just need to indicate that you do understand them.
Fisher and Ury's second rule is to speak directly to your opponent. This is not considered appropriate in some cultures, but when permitted, it helps to increase understanding. Avoid being distracted by outside parties or other things going on in the same room. Focus on what you have to say, and on saying it in a way that your opponent can understand.
Their third rule is to speak about yourself, not about your opponent. Describe your own feelings and perceptions, rather than focusing on your opponent's motives, misdeeds, or failing. By saying, "I felt let down," rather than "You broke your promise," you will convey the same information. But you will do so in a way that does not provoke a defensive or hostile reaction from your opponent. (This is often referred to as using "I-statements" or "I-messages," rather than "you messages." You messages suggest blame, and encourage the recipient to deny wrong-doing or blame back. I messages simply state a problem, without blaming someone for it. This makes it easier for the other side to help solve the problem, without having to admit they were wrong.
Fisher and Ury's fourth rule is "speak for a purpose." Too much communication can be counter-productive, they warn. Before you make a significant statement, pause and consider what you want to communicate, why you want to communicate that, and how you can do it in the clearest possible way.
A number of other rules might be added to these. One is to avoid inflammatory language as much as possible when dealing with people on the other side. Inflammatory language just increases hostility and defensiveness-it seldom convinces people the speaker is right. (Actually, it usually does just the opposite.) Although inflammatory remarks can arouse people's interest in a conflict and generate support for one's own side, that often comes with the cost of general conflict escalation. To the extent that one can make one's point effectively without inflammatory statements, the better.
Likewise, all opponents should be treated with respect. It doesn't help a conflict situation to treat people disrespectfully-it just makes them angry and less likely to do what you want. No matter what one thinks of another person, if they are treated with respect and dignity-even if you think they do not deserve it-communication will be much more successful, and the conflict will be more easily managed or resolved. This means that personal attacks and insults should be avoided, as should verbal or nonverbal clues that one is disdainful of the other side.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION:
Communication is the process by which a message or information is exchanged from a sender to a receiver. For example a production manager (sender) may send a message to a sales manager (receiver) asking for sales forecasts for the next 6 months so they can plan production levels. The sales manager would then reply (feedback) to the production manager with the appropriate figures.
This is an example of internal communication, i.e. when communications occur between employees of a business. Communication therefore links together all the different activities involved in a business and ensures all employees are working towards the same goal and know exactly what they should be doing and by when. Effective communication is therefore fundamental to the success of a business.
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A business will of course need to communicate with people or organisations outside of the business. This is known as external communication. For example a marketing manager will need to tell customers of a new special pricing offers or the finance director may need to ask banks for a loan.
Conflict Communication Skills
Conflict is always a challenge, but by using effective communication techniques, you can stay in control and solve the problem while keeping the respect of everyone involved.
A hostile person is generally not angry with you personally, but rather with a situation. Using the wrong methods of dealing with an angry person, however, can make things worse.
This program identifies potential areas of conflict in the workplace and teaches employees how to approach them successfully.
The importance of good communication
Good communication has many advantages for a business: strong communication:
- Motivates employees - helps them feel part of the business (see below)
- Easier to control and coordinate business activity - prevents different parts of the business going in opposite directions
- Makes successful decision making easier for managers- decisions are based on more complete and accurate information
- Better communication with customers will increase sales
- Improve relationships with suppliers and possibly lead to more reliable delivery
Improves chances of obtaining finance - e.g. keeping the bank up-to-date about how the business is doing.
Communication Is Key in Change Managemen
You cannot over-communicate when you are asking your organization to change. Every successful executive, who has led a change management effort, in my experience, makes this statement.
I have never worked with a client organization in which employees were completely happy with communication. Communication is one of the toughest issues in organizations. Effective communication requires four components interworking perfectly for "shared meaning," my favorite definition of communication.
- The individual sending the message must present the message clearly and in detail, and radiate integrity and authenticity.
- The person receiving the message must decide to listen, ask questions for clarity, and trust the sender of the message.
- The delivery method chosen must suit the circumstances and the needs of both the sender and the receiver.
- The content of the message has to resonate and connect, on some level, with the already-held beliefs of the receiver.
With all of this going on in a communication, I think it's a wonder that organizations ever do it well.
Change management practitioners have provided a broad range of suggestions about how to communicate well during any organizational changes.
Recommendations About Communication for Effective Change Management
Develop a written communication plan to ensure that all of the following occur within your change management process.
- Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, Intranets, and more about the change.
- Communicate all that is known about the changes, as quickly as the information is available. (Make clear that your bias is toward instant communication, so some of the details may change at a later date. Tell people that your other choice is to hold all communication until you are positive about the decisions. This is disastrous in effective change management.
- Provide significant amounts of time for people to ask questions, request clarification, and provide input. If you have been part of a scenario in which a leader presented changes, on overhead transparencies, to a large group, and then fled, you know what bad news this is for change integration.
- Clearly communicate the vision, the mission, and the objectives of the change management effort. Help people to understand how these changes will affect them personally. (If you don't help with this process, people will make up their own stories, usually more negative than the truth.)
- Recognize that true communication is a "conversation." It is two-way and real discussion must result. It cannot be just a presentation.
- The change leaders or sponsors need to spend time conversing one-on-one or in small groups with the people who are expected to make the changes.
- Communicate the reasons for the changes in such a way that people understand the context, the purpose, and the need. Practitioners have called this: "building a memorable, conceptual framework," and "creating a theoretical framework to underpin the change."
- Provide answers to questions only if you know the answer. Leaders destroy their credibility when they provide incorrect information or appear to stumble or back-peddle, when providing an answer. It is much better to say you don't know, and that you will try to find out.
- Leaders need to listen. Avoid defensiveness, excuse-making, and answers that are given too quickly. Act with thoughtfulness.
- Make leaders and change sponsors available, daily when possible, to mingle with others in the workplace.
- Hold interactive workshops and forums in which all employees can explore the changes together, while learning more. Use training as a form of interactive communication and as an opportunity for people to safely explore new behaviors and ideas about change and change management. All levels of the organization must participate in the same sessions.
- Communication should be proactive. If the rumor mill is already in action, the organization has waited too long to communicate.
- Provide opportunities for people to network with each other, both formally and informally, to share ideas about change and change management.
- Publicly review the measurements that are in place to chart progress in the change management and change efforts.
- Publicize rewards and recognition for positive approaches and accomplishments in the changes and change management. Celebrate each small win publicly.
Managing and Resolving Conflict in a Positive Way
Conflict is a normal, and even healthy, part of relationships. After all, two people can't be expected to agree on everything at all times. Since relationship conflicts are inevitable, learning to deal with them in a healthy way is crucial. When conflict is mismanaged, it can harm the relationship. But when handled in a respectful and positive way, conflict provides an opportunity for growth, ultimately strengthening the bond between two people. By learning the skills you need for successful conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.
The fundamentals of conflict resolution
Conflict arises from differences. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences look trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal and relational need is at the core of the problem-a need to feel safe and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater closeness and intimacy.
Recognizing and resolving conflicting needs
If you are out of touch with your feelings or so stressed that you can only pay attention to a limited number of emotions, you won't be able to understand your own needs. If you don't understand your deep-seated needs, you will have a hard time communicating with others and staying in touch with what is really troubling you. For example, couples often argue about petty differences-the way she hangs the towels, the way he parts his hair-rather than what is really bothering them.
In personal relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups. In workplace conflicts, differing needs are often at the heart of bitter disputes. When you can recognize the legitimacy of conflicting needs and become willing to examine them in an environment of compassionate understanding, it opens pathways to creative problem solving, team building, and improved relationships. When you resolve conflict and disagreement quickly and painlessly, mutual trust will flourish.
Successful conflict resolution depends on your ability to:
- Manage stress while remaining alert and calm. By staying calm, you can accurately read and interpret verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Control your emotions and behavior. When you're in control of your emotions, you can communicate your needs without threatening, frightening, or punishing others.
- Pay attention to the feelings being expressed as well as the spoken words of others.
- Be aware of and respectful of differences. By avoiding disrespectful words and actions, you can resolve the problem faster.
Healthy and unhealthy ways of managing and resolving conflict
Conflict triggers strong emotions and can lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, and discomfort. When handled in an unhealthy manner, it can cause irreparable rifts, resentments, and break-ups. But when conflict is resolved in a healthy way, it increases our understanding of one another, builds trust, and strengthens our relationship bonds.
Unhealthy responses to conflict are characterized by:
- An inability to recognize and respond to matters of great importance to the other person
- Explosive, angry, hurtful, and resentful reactions
- The withdrawal of love, resulting in rejection, isolation, shaming, and fear of abandonment
- The expectation of bad outcomes
- The fear and avoidance of conflict
Healthy responses to conflict are characterized by:
- The capacity to recognize and respond to important matters
- A readiness to forgive and forget
- The ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing
- A belief that resolution can support the interests and needs of both parties
Four key conflict resolution skills
- Conflict resolution skill 1: Quickly relieve stress
- Conflict resolution skill 2: Recognize and manage your emotions.
- Conflict resolution skill 3: Improve your nonverbal communication skills
- Conflict resolution skill 4: Use humor and play to deal with challenges
Tips for managing and resolving conflict
Managing and resolving conflict requires emotional maturity, self-control, and empathy. It can be tricky, frustrating, and even frightening. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following conflict resolution guidelines:
- Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than "winning" the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.
- Focus on the present. If you're holding on to old hurts and resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation will be impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here-and-now to solve the problem.
- Pick your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it's important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. Maybe you don't want to surrender a parking space if you've been circling for 15 minutes. But if there are dozens of spots, arguing over a single space isn't worth it.
- Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you're unwilling or unable to forgive.Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
- Know when to let something go. If you can't come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.
Fair fighting: Ground rules
Remain calm. Try not to overreact to difficult situations. By remaining calm it will be more likely that others will consider your viewpoint.
Express feelings in words, not actions. Telling someone directly and honestly how you feel can be a very powerful form of communication. If you start to feel so angry or upset that you feel you may lose control, take a "time out" and do something to help yourself feel steadier.
Be specific about what is bothering you. Vague complaints are hard to work on.
Deal with only one issue at a time. Don't introduce other topics until each is fully discussed. This avoids the "kitchen sink" effect where people throw in all their complaints while not allowing anything to be resolved.
No "hitting below the belt." Attacking areas of personal sensitivity creates an atmosphere of distrust, anger, and vulnerability.
Avoid accusations. Accusations will cause others to defend themselves. Instead, talk about how someone's actions made you feel
Don't generalize. Avoid words like "never" or "always." Such generalizations are usually inaccurate and will heighten tensions.
Avoid "make believe." Exaggerating or inventing a complaint - or your feelings about it - will prevent the real issues from surfacing. Stick with the facts and your honest feelings.
Don't stockpile. Storing up lots of grievances and hurt feelings over time is counterproductive. It's almost impossible to deal with numerous old problems for which interpretations may differ. Try to deal with problems as they arise.
Avoid clamming up. When one person becomes silent and stops responding to the other, frustration and anger can result. Positive results can only be attained with two-way communication.
Attributes necessary for successful performance of manager's job:
Manager is the dynamic, life-giving element in every business. In a competitive economy, above all, the quality and performance of the managers determined to success of a business, indeed they determine its survival.
A managers job should be based on a task to be performed in order to attain the company's objectives. It should always be a real job- one that makes a visible and, if possible, clearly measurable contribution to the success of enterprise. Since a manager is someone who takes responsibility for, and contribute to the final results of the enterprise, the job must have sufficient scope. It should always embody the maximum challenge, carry the maximum responsibility and make the maximum contribution. And that contribution should be visible and measurable.
Managers must be skilled at planning , organizing, leading and controlling if they are to accomplish the organization's goals through other people.
Managers four basic functions are planning, organizing, leading and controlling -the management process.
Planning: Planning is setting goals and deciding on courses of action, developing rules and procedures, developing plans and forecasting about what the future holds for the firm.
Organizing: Organizing Is identifying jobs to be done, hiring people to do them, establishing departments, delicating or pushing authority down to subordinates, establishing a chain of command and coordinating the work of subordinates.
Leading: Leading means influencing other people to get the job done, maintaining morale, molding company culture and managing conflicts and communications.
Controlling: Controlling is setting standards, comparing actual performance with these standards, and then taking corrective action as required.
Mintzberg's managerial roles: Henry mintzberg conducted a study on what managers. Mintzberg found that as they went from task to task, managers have to fill various roles, Including
- The figurehead role: Every manager spend time performing some ceremonial duties.
- The Leader Role: Every manager must function as a leader, motivating and encouraging employees.
- The Liaison Role: Manager spend a lot time in contact with people outside their own department, essentially acting as a liaison between their departments and other people within and outside the organization.
- The spokesperson role: Manager is often the spokesperson for his or her organization
- The negotiator Role: Managers spend a lot time negotiating
The manager as innovator in today's fast changing world, managers also have to make sure their companies have what it takes to innovate new products and to react quickly to change. Successful managers improve their company's ability to be more innovative. They do this by cultivating three processes in their companies.
- The Entrepreneurial process: The managers emphasize by giving employees the authority, support and rewards that self disciplined and self directed people need to run their operations as their own.
- The Competence-building process: Successful managers work hard to create an environment that lets employees really take the charge. This means encouraging them to take on more responsibility, providing the education and training they need to build self confidence, allowing them to make mistakes without fear of punishment, and coaching them to learn from their mistakes.
- The Renewal Process: Managers have to make sure that they and all their employees guard against complacency. They encourage employees to question why they do things as they do- ad if they might do them differently.
Managers should be directed and controlled by the objectives of performance rather than by his boss.Yet there is one quality that cannot be learned, one qualification that the manager cannot acquire but must bring with him. It is not genius; it is character.
- MANAGEMENT- Principles and practices for Tomorrows managers( Gary Deslier, 3rd edition)
- Carol Kinsey Goman's Change Communications community
- Managerial challenges in change management by by Geoff Hardy
- Communication Is Key in Change Management By Susan M. Heathfield