This paper explores the change initiative in an organization. It is subject to many variables. In particular, the paper demonstratesknowledge of change process in an organization. It gives comprehensive analysis of various change processes in an organization. It identifies and describes various professional change initiatives. In addition, it discuses various failures and successes of change processes in an organization. The paper also discusses various concepts and theories that are used to facilitate change process. It evaluates the impacts of change initiatives. Lastly, the paper discusses the sustainability of change initiative in an organization.
In organizations, change initiative is actually a process of optimizing the performance as the organization works towards achieving an ideal state of operation. It entails bringing about fundamental or drastic internal changes that are aimed at altering the relationships between different elements or systems of an organization. In essence, organizational change initiative is a typical framework for implementing and managing new processes in business. It entails drastic changes in the culture and structure of an organization. Changes constantly occur as organizations react to the ever-changing business environment. Changes in organization cans be triggered by leaders or as a response to a crisis situation. It is essential to note that successful change initiative is notmerely about adjusting the business process but rather getting sufficient management capabilities (McNamara, 2006).
The organizational change process
Change is becoming inevitable in any business. There is increasing pressure for organizational leaders to implement change initiates. According to Lindqvist, Timpka and Schelp (2001), change is inevitable in organizations to respond to the increasing competition and fluid business environment. A complete restructuring of an organization is required to initiate a change process. It entails creation of new departments and establishment of new job functions. Changeprocesses in organizationsare drivenmainly by two factors; the operational complexity and increasing competitiveness. These two factors are compelling leaders to implement change-oriented operational paradigm. Theyimplement operational changes that are based on both the existing trends and the projected trajectories in the market place.
Organizations may choose to adopt either an evolutionary or a revolutionary change process. Nonetheless, many organization leaders usually follow Lewin’s “Force Theory of Change”. In this theory, Lewin proposed three stepwise processes through which organizational change can be undertaken successfully. The three change processes are (1) unfreezing, (2) moving, and (3) freezing.Lewin’s change process is widely studied by many scholars. Regardless of the type and process, leaders often face problems getting the enterprise change.
Unfreezing is the initial steps towards organizational change process. It usually starts from howa member understands and perceives the vision as well as crisis that motivate changes in an organization. The unfreezing process normally goes through three stages before its full actualization. Enough information about the business is required in the first stage. The information must be specific. In addition, it must indicate the current condition of the organization. The second stage requires the information to be closely related to the essential goals of the organization. Therefore, it musthave the ability to elicit anxious feelings of the members. The last stage requires a solution to be proposed. The solution must have the ability to reduce resistance to change an insecure feeling of the member (Van & Sun, 2011).
The second process of change initiative is moving. This process involves taking of particular actions that are aimed at transforming the organization to meet the anticipated or required conditions. This process is relatively complicated. Essentially, moving process involves support seeking, goal setting, resource finding, panning, and lastly execution. Moving process comes in two forms namely vision orientation and problem solving orientation. An organization may choose to adopt either vision orientation or problem solving orientation depending on its specific situation. Ideally, the organization’s situation determines the kind of chosen form.
Freezing is the final process of change initiative. Its primary role is to stabilize the changes that are initiated or achieved in the moving stage. The change initiative will certainly return to the status quo if freezing process is not undertaken. This is because every department, individual as well as the organization as a whole have inertia in influencing the change initiative. This process may entail formation of new rules, reinforcement of appropriate responses, as well as regulation of new behaviors. These methods help the organization to internalize new behavior and value into its culture thereby enhancing the change initiative.
Successes and failures of organizational change initiatives
According to recent research by Kegler and Glanz (2008), about 30% of respondents believe that change initiatives have successfully increased their organizational performance as well as long-term goals. This is primary because the success or failure of change initiatives is affected by many factors. About six factors significantly influence the success or failure of organizational change initiatives. They include lack of proper systematic plans, insufficient readiness, focus on activity rather than result, expectation of fast solutions, mismatch between change plans and contexts, and lastly, poor management of the process. An organization can only be successful in its change initiative if it carefully considers all these determining factors.
The readiness of an organization for change determines its failure or success. It refers to the degree by which an organization is ready to accept and initiate a positive change. The organization must develop a positive attitude help enhance the change initiative in order to be successful. Firms that prepare well usually receive the highest level of acceptance of the change initiative. In addition, its members will have higher executive powers to initiate the required change. If an organization is not well prepared, it will receive the highest level of resistance towards the change initiative.
In addition, organizations fail in their change initiatives because they do not use holistic plans that takea systematicviewpoint of the problem. For instance, they attempt to use only education to make change thereby overlooking other important factors, such as culture, structure as well as organizational system. Moreover, some organizations are accustomed to applying identical change initiatives across all the departments. This practice also contributes to change failures. To be successful in initiating changes, an organization must consider the differences that lie between each department.
Organizations also make mistakes in expecting fast solutions to their change initiatives. Introducing a given set of changes does immediately solve all problems of theorganization. There is also tendency of organizations forgetting goals when planning for change initiatives. They often take the change activity too serious thus contributing to failures. Poor change management is another problem that leads to failure. Finally, the mismatch between organization context and change plan also plays significant roles in determining success or failure. In order to be successful, the organization needs to establish new patterns of behavior and thinking that consider its operational context. When new plans conflict the old ones, the organization tends to develop change resistance thus leading to failures. Therefore, the organizational context is essential in determining success or failure of the change initiative.
Concepts and theories of change process
The study of change in organization is interdisciplinary. It draws from many different fields. They include political science, management, sociology, psychology, as well as economics. For this reason, many theories and concepts have been developed explaining organization change process. In essence, there are grand and unified theories and concepts explaining organizational change. However, there are three major theories namely (1) stage theory, (2)organizational development theory, and (3) interorganizational relations theory (Carter, Ulrich & Goldsmith, 2012).
(a) Stage Theory
The stage theory of organizational change assumes that a company passes through many series of stages as it implements change initiatives. In essence, it explains the process through which an organization develops new programs, goals, ideas, as well as technologies for change initiatives. An organization needs to assess carefully its innovative stage as well as social environment in order to apply this theory properly. The stage theory is based on the three-stage model developed by Lewin. The three stages are unfreezing, moving and freezing. According to this model, the organization needs to first unfreeze its past attitudes and behaviors then move by exposing itself to new attitudes, information, and theories. The last stage, which is refreezing, is undertaken through confirmation, reinforcement, and support for change.
The key concepts of stage theory involve four main stages. The awareness stage comes first. This stage defines the problem organization is facing and the need for change. The adoption stage comes second. It is where change actions are initiated.This is followed by change implementation stage. The last stage is changeinstitutionalization. This concept essentially focuses on activities that are within each stage. It does not focus on how an organization moves from one stage to the next.
(b) Organizational development theory
This theory aims at developing the organizational systems as well as the relationships with external environment. The target organizational systems may include work teams, members, as well as the entire organization. It entails the application of science knowledge to achieve the desired or planned organization changes that increases efficiency. This theory emerged out of the studies of human relations especiallythe organizationalstructures and processes that influenceemployee’s behavior, communication, motivation, as well as problem solving abilities. It focuses on organizational design, human processes, and technologies that that are design to make work more rewarding.
The key concepts of this theory involve three stages. The first stage is known as the organizational climate. This stage identifies and describes the personality of the organization. The second stage is known as organizational culture. Members discuss and share assumptions and beliefs in this stage.The last stage is known as organizational capacity.
(c) Inter-organizational relations theory
This organizational change theory describes how organizations can work together effectively through collaboration. It provides networks for working together such as grassroots collaborations. This theory assumes that collaborations make organizations more comprehensive, effective, and coordinated. In essence, it is a coordinated approach to handling complex issues in an organization through collaboration. It actually provides effective foundation of understanding and enhancing mobilizations. The theory was developed to help organizations decrease uncertainty through collaborations.
The key concepts and hypotheses of theory involve three stages namely (1) exchange networks, (2) action networks, and (3) systemic networks. It requires continuous transformation of informal to formal linkages, all designed to reflect the degree of complexity to the environment in which the firm operates.
Impact of change upon organizations
Managers often find challenges helping employees deal with organizational changes. The change process is actually an emotional and complex. However, understanding how employees deal with change helpsmanagers achieve successful transition. Organizational change may make employees to lose self-confidence. The employees may start feeling needy, incompetent, and powerless due to change initiative in the organization. To avoid this challenge, workers must be made part of the change planning and execution process. In addition, the company must have a support system that deals with the effect of the change initiative.
Change also causes confusion especially amongst employees. This is because the change process often alters the workers’ routine processes. Good leadership skills are essential in dealing with this challenge. Conflict is another serious impact of organizational change. Conflict results from loss of purpose and meaning among employees. Employees are often attached to norms and things they consider contributing to stability of their workplace. Conflict often occurs when these things and norms are interfered with. Conflict also occurs because workers find it difficult to let go old ways of doing things.
Change may also cause loss of loyalty as well as mental stress. Employees may become stressed especially if there are several and broad organizational changes. This makes employees to become less loyal to the firm. Lastly, it causes lifestyle changes (Burnes& Jackson, 2011).
The sustainability of the change effort
Sustaining organizational change is not easy. Sometimes change does not last. However, when change initiatives are successful, the organization must then focus on creating a sustainable environment. Many of the steps and processes illustrated in the planning and implementation stages are crucial in sustaining change. These steps include reduction of change resistance, creating high-level commitment, promoting collaboration, highlighting organizational accomplishments, initiating proper communication, having regular training, as well as creating incentive that promotes employee motivations. Human resource departments play significantroles in creating change sustainability. However, the organization should know that not every change is appropriate to institutionalize and sustain.
In order to sustain change, it is imperative for the company to develop organizational culture that is dynamic, adaptive, and open to change initiatives. The three essential things for maintaining change sustainability are (1) metrics and tracking, (2) performance management, and (3) rewards and recognition. The company should put in place good measures for tracking and metric. This will help create the right platform for sustaining change. Secondly, the company should put in place right criterion for performance management. It should evaluate and measure the performance of each employee. This includes ongoing discussions with employees. The employees should receive direction, feedback, praise, as well as ideas relating to their impact on the company’s goals and objectives. Lastly, the company should put in place right reward and recognition criterion. Certain employee behaviors and achievements should be rewarded to enhance organizational change.