The paper "Managing the Whole Messy Business" is a perfect example of a Management Case Study. The case involves a large telephone company (Telco) whose board of directors wants its executives to make the organization more environmentally friendly by encouraging employees to reduce waste in the workplace. The government and other stakeholders expect the firm to conduct the exercise so as to be publicly successful. As a result, the managing director wants the company to reduce the usage of paper, refuse as well as other waste throughout the company’ s offices. Regrettably, a survey indicates that the company employees do not value environmental objectives and do not know how to “ reduce, reuse, and recycle. ” The key issue, in this case, is to develop a strategy that might help bring out meaningful behavioral change towards the environmental goal.
To achieve this, it is important to diagnose the scenario at the company and determine the most appropriate set of change management practices. This paper thus presents the practices that should be introduced in order to create an urgency to change, minimize the resistance change, put in place appropriate strategies to communicate change, and finally to refreeze the situation to support the change initiative.
The paper commences with an overview of organizational change management. Overview of organizational change management Organizations are continually changing whether those within those organizations embrace the changes or not. Some changes are planned in order to enhance efficiencies (as in the current analysis of Telco) or meet new market opportunities or take advantage of new technology (Kuriger, 2004). As well, some changes are unplanned, such as the unanticipated departure of key staff.
Any form of change in an organization causes individuals to experience a reaction process (Kyle, 1993) [cited by Bovey and Hede (2001)]. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the kind of change required and how it is likely to affect the employees. From the current case study, it is worth noting that the employees do not value environmental objectives and do not know how to “ reduce, reuse, and recycle. ” In other words, the employees are likely to resist the anticipated change if they are not convinced of the benefits that are likely to accrue from the change.
In line with this, the strategy to be applied must be one that eliminates this tendency to resist change. According to Mills, Dye, and Mills (2008), resistance to change is likely to occur in any organization. The same authors also argue that people tend to resist change or alterations of the status quo. This resistance is more than the simple opposition to any given change, and it is more widespread than a particular individual’ s or group’ s refusal to accept a particular change. There is always a wish among most people to maintain the consistency and comfort that is associated with the status quo.
This resistance stems from various sources, which can be broadly categorized into three groups: barriers to comprehension, barriers to acceptance, and barriers to acting (Mills, Dye & Mills, 2008). Del Val and Fuentes (2003), breaks down some of these barriers by highlighting the causes of resistance to change at the initial stage as: myopia, or inability of an organization to look into the future with clarity; denial or refusal to acknowledge any information that is not anticipated or desired; the perpetuation of ideas, implying the tendency to go on with the present thoughts although the situation has changed; implicit assumptions, which are not discussed due to implicit character and therefore misrepresent the reality; communication barriers, which lead to distortion of information or misinterpretations; and organizational silence, which obstructs the information flow with individuals who do not express their thoughts, implying that decisions are made without all the necessary information. The points above show that there are many reasons for resistance to change.
Therefore, Telco must understand these reasons so that the strategies that are formulated toward making the organization environmentally friendly are not only understood by the employees but that the employees embrace them. i) Creating an urgency to change Establishing the need for urgency is the first step of Kotter’ s 8-Step Change Model (Ronnenberg, Graham & Mahmoodi, 2011).
It is also the first step in Doppelt’ s Wheel of Change, which states that change begins by disrupting and altering the dominant mindset and establishing a compelling need for achieving change (Smith, 2011). The core challenge in this step is to change people’ s perceptions and get them ready to move.
This involves informing people of the need for change and how the change will affect them. For instance, at Telco the core challenge is to create an environmentally friendly organization, and the aim is to encourage employees to make them familiar with the concept of “ reduce, reuse, and recycle. ” To initiate change, Telco executives must demonstrate a great deal of cooperation with other employees, commit their time and energy to attain the objective and be willing to make sacrifices. Of course, the employees will be expected to emulate the executives’ efforts.
The most important thing here is that leaders in the organization must convince the other members that there is an urgent need to change (Proehl, 2001). The urgency to change is the energy that propels the organization ahead and without much hassle. Without this energy, the change effort sputters and ultimately wanes for lack of interest. Hence, it is important for the organization to focus on both the human and organization needs, and appreciate that organizational change is driven by personal change. That is, to change the perception of employees toward an environmentally friendly organization, the executives must aim at changing the attitudes of individuals, and hence the organizational culture.
Bovey and Hede (2001) emphasize the point that individual change is required in order for organizational change to succeed. Creating an urgency need to change can also be likened to the first phase of Lewin’ s Freeze Phase model – the “ Unfreeze” phase. Lewin recognized that people like the safety, comfort, and feeling of control of the status quo within their environment (Warrilow, not dated).
He referred to this as a “ frozen” state and argued that significant effort may be required to unfreeze people so as to initiate change. For instance, Telco employees need to be made aware of the consequences of using too much paper and producing other refuse in the workplace. The company should then highlight the benefits that could accrue to the organization if employees reduced paper and minimized other wastes, especially given that the government and other stakeholders expect the company to do so. For instance, sending emails instead of writing on paper would help reduce litter in the workplace, and sending emails instead of letters would help the company save a lot in terms of yearly purchases of paper and ink cartridges. The executives would also emphasize that a clean working environment is healthy for the employees and customers – and positively influences the organization’ s image.
Importantly, the leaders should communicate to the other staff regarding the organization’ s challenges, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses as pertains to the goal of the change. The goal is basically to make everyone have a reason for accepting and participating in the anticipated change.
Once the employees realize that there is a need for change, they will be more willing to embrace it and participate in it. ii) Minimizing resistance to change There is no guarantee that after creating an urgency to change everyone will be willing to comply. As Carnall (1986) and Darling (1993) put it, not only do individuals experience change in different ways, they also differ in their ability and willingness to adapt to change [cited by Bovey and Hede (2001)]. According to Peccei, Giangreco, and Sebastiano (2011), resistance to change is hypothesized to be related to two crucial factors linked to the content and process of change respectively.
The first factor is the extent to which employees perceive the change as being either beneficial or detrimental to their own interests. The second factor is the extent to which employees are involved in the process of change itself. These factors are referred to as the favourableness and fairness of change. It is therefore noteworthy that Telco employees will be receptive change if they are assured that the change is not only favorable but fair to them.
This requires a well-planned communication strategy and an approach that ensures that the employees partake in the change process. Effective communication of the objective of the intended change is destined to eliminate the uncertainty that is associated with change. For instance, employees at Telco may be wary of using email rather than paper for communication in the workplace, but if they are informed that such an initiative is meant to save on paper, they may as well appreciate the essence of the change.
Additionally, they may be hesitant to keep their documents in soft copy, but if they are informed that doing so will save their time for perusing through files, as well as the company’ s expenditure on ink cartridges and power, they may slow embrace and appreciate the initiative. This, however, requires openness and clarity (WBS Group, not dated). The involvement of the employees is also vital to reduce resistance to change. It is also important to assess and improve the participants’ readiness and identify potential opponents to the change (Spiro, 2010).
Bringing them on board minimizes the ability to derail the intended change process. For instance, some employees may not support the initiative, but if the organization convinces them that the change would help improve how they are perceived and that compliance is a government requirement, they are likely to change their mindsets. Of course, the leaders must show their commitment by helping those employees who may need any kind of assistance through problem-solving or brainstorming teams. Generally, if people are involved in change and comprehend the reasons for it they become supportive of the whole idea and hence the change process (WBS Group, not dated).
Hence, if the employees of Telco are given the opportunity to take responsibility and accountability for certain contributions to a change program, their sense of ownership will make them even stronger campaigners for the change. iii) Appropriate strategies to communicate change The communication strategy should be structured such that it can eliminate the uncertainties that are associated with the consequences of change. This is in line with the fourth stage of Kotter’ s 8-Step Change Model, which stipulates that those involved should communicate the vision widely, repeatedly, and consistently (Smith, 2011). As mentioned earlier, the communication should run from the leadership down through all organizational levels, both in language and in actions and behaviors.
As the employees of Telco are not cognisant with the phrase “ reduce, reuse, and recycle” , the aim of the involvement should be to make them familiar with the essence of the phrase. The company can say for instance that instead of using disposable cups to draw water from dispensers, employees should use cups that can be washed.
This will ensure that the company reduces its usage and disposal of plastic materials. Some employees may regard washing cups as a tedious exercise, but with practice and having an understanding of what the change means, they may slowly adapt the practice. The employees should also be informed of the benefits of collecting all waste paper and having it in a place where it can be collected for recycling. Effective communication about changes and their likely outcomes can reduce speculation and allay unfounded fears (Cummings & Worley, 2008). For instance, merely saying that employees should not keep the information as hard copies (prints) may make some employees have the perception that the company is facing financial constraints and cannot afford to purchase paper.
However, if the employees are informed that through this strategy the company aims to reduce its usage of paper and thus conserve the environment, they will shake off these fears. Usually, in an organization, people constantly receive information about current operations, and future plans as well as informal rumors about people, politics, and changes (Cummings & Worley, 2008).
Managers at Telco must, therefore, think seriously about how to break through the information that may be misleading as regards the intended change. For instance, if the tradition of the company is to deliver information through emails and memos, then it can deliver the change information through meetings and presentations, such that people can interact and ask questions pertaining to the change. Another strategy to communicate change is to deliberately alter the normal operations in the workplace (Cummings & Worley, 2008). For instance, the company can reduce the number of printers in the office such that employees have one that is shared.
This sends a clear message to the employees that they can print information only when it is very necessary, thus reducing power consumption by several printers, as well as paper usage in the office. Importantly, the entire communication strategy should promote the participation of all employees to increase acceptance of the change and hence its value. iv) “ Refreezing” the situation to support the change initiative “ Refreezing” is the final phase of Lewin’ s Freeze Phase change model. It is the process of making new behaviors relatively permanent and resistant to further change (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009).
It involves stabilizing the new learning with the actual results that are observed due to the change (Schein, 2010). After convincing members of an organization to accept a change, the change process slowly begins, but the change cannot be regarded as permanent until it is absorbed by everyone. This means having the change integrated into people’ s personalities or the organization’ s functioning. Refreezing is facilitated when the changing pattern is internalized, such that it fits naturally into the organization’ s culture (Gautam & Batra, 2007). If the executives at Telco have correctly diagnosed what needs to be done to create an environmentally friendly organization, then the new behavior will produce better results and be confirmed.
For example, employees may be accustomed to turning off lights that are not necessary during the day; saving information on their desktops rather than printing it; washing their cups or plates rather than littering the workplace with disposables; turning computers off or to standby mode when not in use; using wastewater to water the company’ s garden and lawns, and so forth. As discussed above, refreezing makes new behaviors relatively permanent as they are incorporated into individuals’ personalities (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009).
During this phase, it is important to repeat any newly learned skills and role-plays to highlight how they can be used in the day-to-day operations of the organization. The process is important because, without it, the old ways of doing things might soon crop up, making the new ways or habits to be forgotten. For instance, having regular meetings and presentations to reinforce the new behavior may inform the employees at Telco that the management is actually concerned about what they are doing.
This notwithstanding, there is always a tendency for people, even after attending a training session, to go back to the old ways. To ensure that the change becomes permanent, leaders at Telco should continuously monitor the situation to ensure that the new habits are followed by offering the required support. According to Marquis and Huston (2008), for refreezing to occur, the change agent must be supportive and reinforce the individual adaptive efforts of those affected by the change.
The management at Telco should not expect change to occur instantaneously as it is a gradual process. Ideally, change needs at least three to six months before it is accepted as part of the system (Marquis & Huston, 2008), hence the executives must work hand-in-hand with the junior staff until the change is completed. Conclusion In conclusion, change is inevitable but must be handled well to avoid inconveniences. As shown in this paper, planned change follows a number of steps, which are also highlighted in various change models from the literature.
Although there are many models of change, it is evident that a number of steps are inevitable for any given change. These include creating an urgency to change, which involves preparing for the change; minimizing resistance to change by discouraging the uncertainties that may be associated with the change; using appropriate strategies to communicate the change; and ensuring that the change is embedded in the system (refreezing). The aim of these steps is to reduce the barriers to change; which include barriers to comprehension, barriers to acceptance, and barriers to acting.
The discussion has been linked to the case study of Telco, and it has been shown that the mentioned steps are necessary to ensure that employees are informed of the benefits of change, which in this case is making the organization environmentally friendly.
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