ABOUT THIS CONTENTClass notes from my core MBA Organizational Behavior (OB) course. These focus on change management.
How Can I Effectively Implement Change? What Pitfalls Will I Likely Face?
- The goal of any organizational change is to take the organization from the CURRENT STATE to the DESIRED STATE. The period between the two states is the TRANSITION STATE and must be managed properly to achieve the DESIRED STATE. It is most important that the desired state is consistent and congruent with the organization’s strategies and major components.
- In its most general terms, effective management of change involves developing an understanding of the CURRENT STATE, developing an image of the FUTURE STATE, and moving the organization through the TRANSITION STATE.
- Organization change is effectively managed when:
- The organization is moved from the CURRENT STATE to the FUTURE STATE
- The functioning of the organization in the FUTURE STATE meets expectations: i.e. it works as planned
- The TRANSITION (STATE) is accomplished without undue cost to the organization
- the TRANSITION (STATE) is accomplished without undue costs to individual organizational members
- The goal should be to maximize (or minimize as the case may be) each of the above. Most strategies are not completely successful, and the means of implementation is as important as the content of the change itself.
- When managing change, many pitfalls are inevitable. In fact, many companies do not even undertake change because management does not feel the organization can withstand the repercussions. This is not always bad, except when organizational change is necessary.
Typical Pitfalls and Ways to Manage Them
Why people resist?
- Need stability, will have to learn new patterns, fear of lost autonomy or power, simply don’t agree
- Parochial self-interest, misunderstanding and lack of trust, differing assessments of the situation, low tolerance for change
- Motivate change (reward change behavior)!
- Educate and communicate – ensure that the vision is shared by all
- Identify and encourage dissatisfaction with current state – these are allies
- Build in participation – allow ownership of change
- Provide adequate time and support to facilitate change – a time to “mourn”
- Negotiate (offer incentives to resistors) – compensate losers – early retirement
- Manipulate and Co-optation (don’t trick though) – offering a desirable role
- Coerce if necessary (threaten resistors) – used if a speedy change is mandatory and little chance of acceptance regardless
Drawbacks are generally TIME, EXPENSE, and LOSS OF CONTROL
Choose between a fast strategy (to overcome resistance) or a slow strategy (to minimize resistance). When making this decision, think about the following:
- The expected resistance – the more expected the slower the strategy
- The power held by change initiators – the less power the slower the strategy
- The person with data for designing change and the energy for implementation – the more the need for commitment from others the slower the strategy
- The stakes involved – the more at stake the slower the strategy
Loss of Control
Organizations are designed for stability, not transition
Why loss of control happens
- Change disrupts the normal course of events within the organization and undermines existing controls
- If control systems become unimportant or irrelevant as a result of the change, loss of control occurs
- When goals and people shift, it becomes more difficult to monitor performance and make corrections
- Managers become too focused on the FUTURE STATE and don’t see that the CURRENT STATE is not capable of handling the TRANSITION STATE.
Managing Loss of Control
- Manage transition!
- Develop and communicate clear vision of future – minimize confusion or individuals will go their own way
- Use multiple leverage points – consistent across all affected – “good fit”
- Use a transition manager – must have the power and authority to make change
- Provide change resources to change agents and other individuals
- Have a formal transition plan (benchmarks, standards, etc.) – provides stability
- Use temporary transition structures – task forces, pilot programs, experimental units
- “>Allow for feedback mechanisms to management – these often break down during change
Power – Politics become more political
Why it happens
- Politics are a natural part of an organization in the CURRENT and FUTURE STATES. However, political behavior is enhanced during the TRANSITION STATE
- This happens because the balance of power is disrupted – individuals will take action based on their perceived change in power under the new organization
- Individuals will attempt to influence where they emerge in the new organization and are concerned about how the change will affect their balance of power in the organization
Managing Power (Politics)
- Shape the political dynamics!
- Support key power groups – create a critical mass
- Use leader behavior to generate energy – leaders working in unison are powerful
- Use symbols and language to generate energy
- Build in stability – “anchors” like structures, people, locations that will not change – too many can hinder change however
Managers can improve their chance of success with change by doing the following:
- Conducting an organizational analysis that identifies the current situation, problems, and the forces that are possible causes of those problems.
- Conducting an analysis of factors relevant to producing the needed changes.
- Selecting a change strategy, based on the previous analysis.
- Monitoring the implementation process.
- Having a good idea is not enough – you must convince others that the idea is significantly better than the CURRENT STATE. Change is a process of persuasion.
- Need support from key respected opinion leaders – key player may not be obvious at first
- Pace of change is critical – radical change with no perceived threat will encounter large inertial resistance