Change occurs in different ways depending with situation, location, setting and the goals of transformation. The way changes occur in organizations differs with the transformations occurring in communities. As such, managing change in the two different scenarios is different. Within the communities, changes are developmental in nature.
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In some cases, community transformation involves the alteration of the general perception of particular ideologies or norms of the society. Most transformations taking place in communities focus on the general belief system, norms and cultural values as well as behavior patterns (Capraro, 2004). Because transformations target the tenets of society, resistances to changes are inevitable.
The resistance to changes taking place at the community level explains why community development workers perceive management of change as essentially about managing conflict and accepting compromise.
Change management in community development
Community development workers face various challenges particularly in change management. In most cases, changes are planned. However, some changes occur spontaneously. Planned changes are based on particular concept, observation and precepts. The needs to have some changes in the community result in the desirable outcomes that can only be achieved through proper change management (Zartman, 2008).
According to the community development workers, managing change depends on the level of conflict management and the capability of compromising during dispute resolution. However, conflict management and compromise in change management depend on the community levels of understanding.
Even though issues always emerge, the degree to which each member of the community perceives particular concepts differs. The different levels of perceptions on emerging issues among the members of the community are the source of conflicts. In addition, conflicts often arise from issues that are particularly concerned with change.
Zartman (2008) assert that changes occurring in communities are characterized by conflicts and politics. Conflicts and politics can drug or hasten the process of change within the community.
According to Zartman (2008), conflicts and community politics are the major impediments of changes taking place at the community level. Therefore, it is critical for the community development workers to understand how to manage conflicts at the community level prior to the implementation of any change process.
As such, the most significant consideration in the community development is the way to manage conflicting interests of people. Essentially, conflicts emanate from the daily interactions of people within the communities (Bratt & Rohe, 2005). As individuals continue to interact, disagreements over issues arise. Disagreement can be either between individuals or among groups within the communities.
Conflicts result from the individual or community differences. In most cases, individuals or groups differences emanate from important issues affecting the community. As far as some individuals may want to change from the issues that affect the society, most of the community members will retain the status quo. The reason is that most people fear the unknown, which in this case, are the effects of the proposed change.
Even though almost all individuals may understand the essence of change, fears of unknown cause most of the individuals to maintain the original position (Moore, 1996). Change will only occur when the majority accepts the fact that the situation needs to be transformed. In other words, the benefits of change must overcome the fear of unknown.
Ways of managing conflicts to bring about change in the communities
Conflicts are part of human activities as well as interactions (Kadushin et al., 2005). Based on this, the utilization of a paradigm shift that is all-inclusive and integrated model is essential in the management of change through avoidance of divergence as well reaching amicable agreements amongst community development workers.
Actually, in daily undertakings amongst individuals, conflicts are bound to occur in either large scale or small extents. Additionally, the increase in formations of community development programs brings people together in groups.
As a result, the interactions between different members within such organizations create augmented disagreements levels amongst the parties. In fact, conflicts have diverse implications on the smooth operation of community programs (Chaskin, 2005). Disagreements are common among colleagues at work as well as members of the society.
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The occurrence of divergence in operations of community development programs either takes place as inter-group or intra-group conflicts. Disagreements experienced in the workplace arise from interpersonal, task as well as procedural conflicts. To begin with, interpersonal differences arise from aggressive comments made by members within the organization leading to personality clash between individuals (Kadushin et al., 2005).
Secondly, task divergence emanates from differences relating to the responsibilities of members within an organization. On the other hand, procedural conflicts arise from clashes about the utilization of effective ways in a program to achieve optimal outcomes.
The management of such conflicts augments the quality of the choices in the project’s operation processes. Management of conflicts also provides an environment for positive change in the performance and organization of development programs (Margalit, 2010).
The existence of conflicts within an organization encompasses interactions in an organization between people from different lifestyles including religious groups, communities and states.
In addition, the existence of diverse levels of authority within an organization creates hierarchical relations between colleagues and can be a source of conflict. Further, deficiency of resources and their utilization may cause discontent among members of an organization leading to upsurge of disagreements (Repenning & Sterman, 2001).
Stedman (2007) argues that to achieve positive change at the community level, conflict resolution mechanism is highly required. Community development workers should be aware that individual within the communities will disagree over facts or opinions. In other words, society will tend to question the way such changes will occur and the consequences.
Under such circumstances, the individuals will question the evidences or the interpretations of the opinions. Such conflicts are critical since the quality of the final decision is improved at the same time enhances the critical thinking process (Stedman, 2007). Individual differences cannot be avoided and should be managed at all levels to enhance the maintenance of the communities.
Disagreements should be viewed as sources of information for a particular issue or production of functions among the conflicting groups as well as individuals (O‘Neill, 2003). Through discussions, the clarifications of arguments are achieved while individual positions are established.
Discussions arising from disagreements improve the understanding of the particular issue and individuals decide on the particular issue depending on their understanding. Since decisions are finally made, cohesion between the community members is achieved. Change can only be implemented when there is cohesion within the community (O‘Neill, 2003).
In essence, proper conflict management brings about cohesion, which is necessary for change to take place. During discussions, compromises are reached.
The opposing group or individual cede some ground while the proposing group also compromise some of the views and take into consideration the views of the opposing individual. Through such compromises, cohesion is achieved. Cohesion ensures that community members are geared towards common goals or purpose.
Noel (2006) argues that for the community to develop in terms of ideas, unity for a common purpose must exist. Attaining unity among the community members is a process. In most cases, unity of purpose is achieved through conflicts. Conflicts are the first step towards the unity of purpose. As indicated before, conflicts will create, characterize, uphold and reinforce boundaries (Noel, 2006).
However, community workers should be aware of the discerning internal conflicts that are not concerned with the goals and purpose of the community. Such discerning conflicts cause contradictions on the founding propositions upon which the community associations are founded.
Such conflicts destroy the very societal fabric and structure and do not result in the desired change (Flora et al., 1992). In other words, a conflict where parties involved do not share the primary values upon which the community is founded disrupts the societal structure resulting into undesirable change.
According to Kenny (2002), compromises made during conflict resolutions ensure agreements among individuals within the community.
Moreover, compromises create strong bonds among the loosely structured groups within the community as well as create unity that can be applied to attain a particular development. In terms of development, compromises create unity for a common purpose. Further, Kenny (2002) asserts that almost all societies have conflicts or founded from the conflicting situations.
Similarly, within the political boundary, creating a political change is always marred with conflicts and the warring parties often make compromises for piece to prevail.
Moreover, implementing an ideology will always be resisted particularly where the community members have not properly understood the meaning and effects of the ideology. Therefore, it is critical for community development workers to understand the role of conflicts and compromise in change management at individual, community, national and international levels (Ferguson & Dickens, 1999).
On the other hand, conflicts can also disrupt the desired change in the communities. The reason is that conflicts have the capability of interrupting the normal channels of collaboration among several divisions of the community (Shaffer, 2009).
In essence, conflicts do not always intend to provide solutions to the desirable outcomes rather can be a result of accumulated grievances. In essence, conflict does not always result in desirable outcome while changes often take place without conflict. Besides, conflicts may result in negative effects together with the planned change. In other words, the undesirable effects of conflicts accompany the attainments of the planned change.
Community workers should recognize that conflicts might result in both positive and negative changes. Therefore, before implementing the planned change, it is critical to examine the direction the planned change will take. Even though conflicts will always exist during the planned change implementation, proper conflict resolution mechanisms must be applied to prevent undesirable effects (Repenning & Sterman, 2001).
Change will only be achieved under the circumstances that the warring individuals or groups within the communities are ready to comprise some of their views. Compromise also requires maturity among the individuals or groups. Maturity means high levels of internalization of the community values, norms and traditions.
Communities whose members have increased capacity of internalizing values, norms, traditions and have often involved in the community life have increased degree of comprise particularly when conflicts arises. In such communities, cohesion is highly regarded and the outcomes of conflicts are positive change (Capraro, 2004).
Aspects of change management from the view of community development worker
The upsurge of conflicts in the operations of community development programs has several implications. For instance, conflicts can pose dangers to the physical and social periphery of the community development programs. Additionally, conflicts are imperative ingredients for behavioral, moral and policy perils in the operations of community development workers.
Concerning such threats, the community development programs are affected since the hazards pose limitations in the provision and access of developmental services to the members of the society (Zartman, 2008). Most importantly, in the undertakings of community development workers, conflicts emanating from job specifications lead to disputes at work and indistinct work roles of the community development (CD) workers.
Further, different members among CD workers often believe that their ways of carrying out responsibilities are the best and therefore do not listening to the opinions of other colleagues leading to conflicts in management. Moreover, the achievements of goals of community development programs are also sources of conflicts within an organization.
For instance, the CD workers normally disagree on the way budgets should be allocated and the sources of funds for such projects (Kenny, 2002). Another interesting aspect of conflicts arises from the modifications of policies of a program as well as the redefinition the project’s territory.
Studies indicate that conflicts have their benefits in the smooth operations of organizations. However, according to CD workers, the implications of conflicts are adverse in the operations of community development programs. Despite the disadvantages of disagreements, they also serve positive roles in the management of such development organizations (Moore, 1996).
To begin with, divergences among community development workers enhance the quality of choices undertaken in the operations. In other words, conflicts are essential in the event that disagreements concerning the activities of a community development program occur. The CD workers will often invent ideas that are imperative in the solution of the divergences amicably.
Secondly, conflicts are also important in enhancing togetherness as well as cohesion amongst CD workers. In essence, disagreements are capable of delineating and strengthening the working periphery between CD workers. As a result, a sense of unity, distinctiveness as well as solidarity among the workers is enhanced (Moore, 1996).
Further, through conflicts the CD workers and the members of the society are capable of forming strategic alliances that change the management of the organization to achieve a common target. Conversely, CD workers also contend that configuration of subunits of workers is often occasioned by the upsurge of disagreements.
In principle, the formation of realignments due to paradigm shifts in power allocations leads to work termination of unsuccessful members in the conflict. Through social interactions among different workers in an organization, each worker often bring on board personal values and interests that gainsay the basic codes and standards in which the organization is founded (Shaffer, 2009).
As a result, conflicts are created. Therefore, the divergences initiate changes in the structure and operation of an organization through readjustment to the norms and power relationships existing between different workers in an organization.
Conflict management as a source of change
In many occasions, conflicts in organizations arise due to disagreements in the sharing of resources and the extent by which members of the society depend on the activities of the organization’s initiatives.
Therefore, efficient initiation of change in organizational development activities as well as the community depends on the ways through which conflicts are managed (Ferguson & Dickens, 1999). The management of community conflicts encompasses a number of issues.
First, the community development programs must consider the significant aspects that are invaluable to the lives of members of the community such as education services, religious convictions as well as the impacts of development projects on the livelihoods of community members. Second, the CD workers’ activities should gain the backing of the entire community.
Through such events, change is eminent since the community development programs take into account the needs of the society. As a result, the community enjoys the prospect of becoming economic hub through location of industries that provide employment opportunities to different members of the society leading to economic growth and development (Chaskin, 2005).
The establishment of new work procedures creates conflicts with the management leading to resistance. For instance, in the event that the community development program wants to undertake reengineering processes in the operations, the personnel’s job security will be at stake. Further, the modifications have the effect of increasing or reducing the workloads of the CD workers.
Conflict management also leads to changes through the dispersion of grim disagreements. For instance, in the operations of CD workers, utilization of various games is invaluable in the provision of a moderate environment that enables competitive situation for all the workers irrespective of the individual attitudes and norms.
Further, the contemporary theory of conflict management contends that conflicts are universal in human activities. As such, disagreements are natural causes of alterations that benefit the community development programs as well as the entire society.
Moreover, current theory argues that in a work environment that is tensed, upsurge of conflicts is inevitable (Repenning & Sterman, 2001). In principle, apprehensive work situation encourages innovation and new ideas among the CD workers and the members of the society.
Conflicts also attract the attention of individuals in higher ranks of authority to recognize the message being passed from the disagreements. In fact, studies indicate many communities often create conflicts with the aim of achieving social change and development. Further, conflict approach is significant in effecting change through the use non-violent protests as well as boycotts.
The tactics attract the attention of those in higher positions to look into the grievances of the society. However, community development professionals postulate different views.
Some CD professionals argue that conflict management forms significant foundation for societal change, actually, they contend that the solution of conflicts stimulates changes. On the other hand, other CD professionals argue that optimal change is achievable through community accord as well as collaboration among the CD workers and the community.
Community development workers recognize that massive gains are accrued through proper solution of divergence. However, the CD workers also warn that conflicts are recipes for the identification of the wrong foes and may turn violence thereby producing undesired outcomes.
Generally, CD workers do not advocate for conflicts as ways of initiating changes but it recognizes the important roles of conflicts in the stimulation of changes. Moreover, the management of procedural conflicts initiates changes through compelling organizations to adhere to the new procedural requirements.
For instance, community development programs may be forced to reexamine their activities when local governments provide new operation guidelines.
Conflicts also arise from modifications emanating from the workers, the management as well as the macro-environment. In essence, an organization can decide to utilize a new expertise to achieve optimal results. Therefore, the managers and the workers collaborate by forming a union that addresses the concerns arising from the use of new technology.
Consequently, the management reaches amicable solutions with workers leading to improved quality and reduction in expenses. In addition, economic fluctuations also impose concerns in the operations of community development projects.
For instance, during economic recession, the community development organizations may find themselves in financial crisis leading to retrenching of personnel and difficulty in operations due to deficiency of funds.
In conclusion, studies contend that proper management of conflicts is an ingredient for positive changes in the lifestyles of the community. For instance, Stedman (2007) contends that precise management of conflicts augments actions, eliminates hindrances as well as increase achievements of the Community development programs.
The management of conflicts involves a number of methods. Capraro (2004) postulates that knowing the existence of a conflict provides better apparatus for the management of disagreements. In addition, compromise as well as reconciliation is a method of managing conflicts.
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