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Change Management Essay, Research Paper

What a manager does and how it is done can be categorised by Henri Fayol s four functions of management: Planning, Organising, Leading and Controlling. Through these functions managers can be catalysts for change or by definition change agents People who act as catalysts and manage the change process. (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter, 2000, p.438) Wether performing the role of the change agent or not, change is an integral part of a manager s job. Change is An alteration in people, structure or technology. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.437) Change occurs within and around organisations today at an unprecedented speed and complexity. Change poses threats and creates opportunities. The fact that change creates opportunities is reason why managers need to encourage change.

What a manager can change falls distinctively into the three categories stated in the definition of change: people, structure and technology. The manager can make alterations in these areas in an attempt to adapt to or facilitate change. The change of people involves changing attitudes, expectations, perceptions and behaviour. These changes ar used to help people within organisations to work together more effectively. Changing structure relates to job design, job specialisation, hierarchy, formalisation and all other organisational structural variables. These changes are ones that need to be flexible and not static to be adaptable to change. Technological change entails modification of work processes and methods and the introduction of new equipment. Changes in this area have been enormous especially in the areas of computing and communications.

An organisation s environment has both specific and general components, or micro and macro environments. The organisation also has its own personality or culture. This environment and culture can be the generator of forces for change. Needs from within the organisation can stimulate change, these are internal forces for change. Of course, the distinction between external and internal forces is blurred because an internally induced change may be prompted by the perception of an external event. (Barney & Griffin, 1992, p.755) Today s organisations are characterised by frequent disruptions to its environment. New strategy, new technology and change in employee mix or attitudes are all internal factors that can create force for change.

The introduction of new equipment or technology can create the need for change within the workplace. The staff will need to learn how to use the new equipment and it may affect the duties required of them. Their jobs may have to be redesigned. New company strategies, which may involve the change in management practices, enterprise agreements and industrial relations, will create a vast variety of needs for change. So will the attitudes of the workers. In fact employee attitudes can create the need for new company strategies in the case of job dissatisfaction, poor team spirit, lack of commitment and job insecurity.

External forces affecting an organisation demand change by creating threats and opportunities. The organisation it compelled to respond to these threats and opportunities. These external forces are apparent in many of the segments of the organisations external environment. These include political-legal, technological, economic, marketplace and sociocultural dimensions.

The political-legal environment is that which consists of government bodies, pressure groups and laws. It is pertinent for companies to keep abreast of and change in political environment because these changes can have dramatic effect. Change in political environment can see legislation introduced that will not make selling or providing a product feasible or somewhat difficult. There are many political factors and laws that can affect business. Pricing, competition, fair trade packaging, labelling, advertising, product safety and minimum wages can all affect business. The marketplace is a major contributor to forces for change. These forces are created by changes in customer buying needs, expectations and buying habits. The lifting of import tariffs or market deregulation are other factors. The technical environment is created by developments of new products or processes that affect an organisations opportunities and operations. These advancements in technology purvey benefits and impel organisations to change.

The first factor to consider for motivating change deals with whether the organisation is facing some obvious need for change, such as increasing competition; pressure on prices; changing customer needs / expectations; advances in technology; reductions in external funding; or regulatory changes. The actual change does not occur until the force for change exceeds that of the force resisting the change. People who may not necessarily lose from the change still contribute to the force resisting change. People inherently resist change because change causes uncertainty and ambiguity. Through good management these uncertainties and ambiguities will be removed and the resistance to change will not be as great.

Planning is A process that involves defining the organisation s objectives or goals, establishing an overall strategy for achieving those goals, and developing a comprehensive hierarchy of plans to integrate and coordinate activities. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.247) One of the reasons for planning is to reduce the impact of change. It does this by creating an environment that is accepting of change and by predicting change. Planning reduces uncertainty by forcing managers to look ahead, anticipate change, consider the impact of change and develop appropriate responses. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.247) No amount of planning or anticipation can get rid of change all together. Planning cannot eliminate change. Changes will happen regardless of what management does. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.437) Planning just enables us to best cope with and manage change.

Change can be modelled by two different metaphors: calm-waters and white-water rapids. The calm waters model involves unfreezing changing and refreezing, this is also the some as Lewin s model of change. We have seen that planning is a tool that can be used to predict change. In this environment of predicability the calm waters metaphor is an apt model. The organisation is in a stable environment and can anticipate change so it goes through a process of unfreezing, changes implemented to overcome differences and meet new goals, and refreezing to keep changes in effect and return to stable environment. Total quality management uses this model. Total quality management is essentially a continuous, incremental change program. It is compatible with the calm waters metaphor (Robbins et al., 2000, p.454) Total quality management continually seeks out problems and implements changes as they strive to ever improve their organisation s efficiency and effectiveness.

Plans are difficult to develop for a dynamic environment. this calm waters metaphor has become increasingly obsolete as a way of describing the kind of seas that managers in today s organisations have to navigate. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.441) This calm waters metaphor is not very helpful to people faced with the detailed task of bringing change about. (Barney & Griffin, 1992, p.757) Today the white water-rapids metaphor is more prevalent in organisations. It is a more comprehensive model. The white water-rapids metaphor depicts change as an ever-present perpetual event. An organisation in white-water rapids is in an uncertain dynamic environment. Disruptions to the status quo may never stop. Managers in this chaotic world need to respond quickly to every changing condition.

Organising is defined as The process of creating an organisation s structure. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.351) By comparing the definition of organising to the definition of change we can come to the conclusion that organising, a function of management, can be a major contributor to the change of an organisation through change in structure. Changing technology may be a contributor to an environment full of uncertainty, although this technology has enabled managers to organise for much greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Work specialisation is necessary as jobs become more complex and it also increases efficiency. Although job specialisation does not create an environment that is capable of accepting change. Managers could adopt a structure of multi-skilling. This multi-skilling approach will provide the organisation with an adaptable workforce.

Decentralisation is The handing down of decision-making authority to lower levels in an organisation (Robbins et al., 2000, p.359) Decentralisation is prevalent in organisations that exist in complex uncertain environments. An increase in decentralisation would create an organisation capable of making faster decisions. This faster decision making ability is far more capable of reacting to change. This ability to react quickly to change is hence conducive to change.

An organisation that is well structured for change is one that is organic. An organic organisation has the structural characteristics mentioned above and others like wide span of control, cross-functional teams, free flow of information and low formalisation. Organic organisations have organisational structure that is highly adaptive and flexible with little work specialisation, minimal formalisation and little direct supervision of employees. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.362) Organic structures incorporate the use of teams. Teams use a much flatter design of management.

The learning organisation is the best-structured organisation for change. This is quite apparent in the definition An organisation that has developed the continuous capacity to adapt and change because all members take an active role in identifying and resolving work related issues. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.376) To achieve this the organisation has a structure that is boundaryless.

Leadership is the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of goals. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.593) Transformational leaders are the style or type of leader best suited to change. They are a style of leaders that entail certain qualities that are conducive to change. These are individualised consideration, intellectual stimulation and charisma. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.617) Leadership is crucial to facilitate the vision required for an organisation to become a learning organisation. Leadership can be used to reduce the resistance to change by altering people s attitudes, expectations, perceptions and behaviour through motivation, communication, participation, facilitation, negotiation manipulation and coercion.

Control is The process of monitoring activities to ensure they are being accomplished as planned, and of correcting any significant deviations. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.683) The control of the organisation needs to flexible enough to absorb and deal with change. Managers need to move away from bureaucratic style of control to encourage change. Bureaucratic organisations strain the use of rules, regulations, procedures, policies and hierarchal authority. For an improved environment for change organisations should use clan or market approach to control.

How do we put the functions of management and the possible changes of organisations into a process of change? Managers can use the process of reengineering. A radical redesign of all or part of a company s work processes to improve productivity and financial performance. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.64) Rather than creating an environment for change this method just goes right on in and changes it. Reengineering is extremely stressful on the organisation. Yet, for all the enormously stressful uncertainty placed on employees, the payoffs from reengineering can be powerful. (Robbins et al., 2000, p.717) An organisation that has gone through the reengineering process has experienced and adapted to change and therefore are better experienced to accept and embrace change in the future.

The environment and that we create through change and trying to encourage change is one that is conducive to stimulating innovation. We need to have flexible structures, good communication, and culture that is relaxed and supportive of new ideas. An organisation s culture can be a prevailing force for innovation or seriously threaten the innovative endeavour. Crucial to the implementation of cultural change is management s ability to use leadership and provide a shared vision of the future. In a chaotic, dynamic world of change we must be able to come up with new ideas and inventions in order to compete in the global market. Those who are good innovators are the ones who can gain competitive advantages.

Change and survival are synonymous. Survival demands change. Managers must be intuitive and read the current and changing situation surrounding them and make the best decision to coordinate work and apply resources. We have discussed what change is, how we depict it and what forces or creates change. Change implemented correctly can unleash employee creativity and potential, reduce bureaucracy and costs, and provide ongoing improvement for an organisation. Given these benefits it would seem a good idea to encourage change.


Barney, J., Ricky, W., (1992), The Management of Organisations, Houghton Mifflin Company, U.S.A.

Cummings, T., (1997), Worley, C., Organization Development & Change, South-Western College Publishing, Ohio.

Graham, R., Englund, R., (1997), Creating an Environment for Successful Projects, Jossey-Bass Inc., California.

Robbins, S., Bergman, R., Stagg, I., Coulter, M. (2000), Management, Prentice-Hall Australia Pty Ltd, Sydney.

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