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Managing organizational change Essay

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Updated: May 10th, 2019

Organizational change is carried out to enhance the functioning of the organization or a section of the organization. Change should not just be done without reason but should be done to improve the organization’s performance. Thus, thorough research is required before embarking on it.

This paper studies the need for change in organizations. It first examines the external and internal environments that affect change. It examines the driving forces of change by focusing on stakeholder analysis, SWOT analysis, and Kotter’s vision on organizational change. It studies the types of change and the major elements of change, resistance to change, and the assessment of change.

Organizational change takes place, especially when an institution changes its general success policy, gets rid of or adds an important practice or department or intends to change its way of operation. It also takes place when an institution advances through various life stages. For development to take place in an organization, it has to go through several changes at various stages in growth (Coghlan, 1994). Managers often strive to achieve success as required by their jobs.

Need for a strategy

Big performing organizations successfully influence their companies more efficiently than competitors and get more than 64% on profit from each worker than next-level performers. Fewer organizations; however view their companies strategically as they should – which is shocking looking at the degree to which institutions potentials and performance steer today’s business importance. Today’s businesses are not well equipped to give the expected business results of tomorrow (Tushman & O’Reilly, 1996).

Various changes are necessary to ensure that strategic objective is totally accomplished. Unfortunately, many organizations change their business strategies into specific and workable plans, but the same extent of rigor is seldom given to the institutional allegations of the strategy (Ford & Ford, 2009).

Efficient organizational strategy allows an organization to grow into a company that can convey its strategy. Organizational strategy shows the importance of change in an organization and gives the strategy of the business plus a workable plan to execute the change.

Causes of Organizational Change

The technology used in organizations is often replaced over time. This implies that an organization requires to be open to innovation in technology. The skills of employees also need to be improved with the improvement in technology. Organizations which are not ready for change are less likely to exist in the coming years (Laurie et al., 2006). Organizations that want to be successful must be ready to embrace change and adapt to new environments.

Organizations undergo transformation times that can lead to stress and reluctance. Organizations must advance in production technologies, make new products demanded in the market, improve the skills of its workers and instigate new systems of administration. Organizations that successfully adjust are always profitable and respected. Managers are supposed to compete with every aspect that has an effect on their organizations (Tushman, Reilly & Charles, 1996).

Factors that affect the environment are clustered into external factors and internal factors. External factors include social/cultural, political/legal, physical/natural technological, competitive, and global market factors. Internal factors include the company’s stability, people, attention to detail, innovation, and risk-taking (Kvernbekk, 2011).

External Analysis

No organization can exist without the influence of other organizations. It has to interact with others over time, including the customers, stakeholders, the government, suppliers, and unions (Coghlan, 1994). Every organization has responsibilities and objectives connected to each other in the business environment.

External factors manipulating change as mentioned above include social-cultural, political, natural, technological, competitive, and international market factors. Changes in these forces can lead to organizational changes like economic control, relations in the management of labor, production process, and the environment of competition (Isaksen, 2007).

Technology changes over time because of globalization. When a slight change is experienced in technology, organizations reduce their efficiency in costs and their competitive positions are weakened. These companies have to comply with the change and accept the new technology. This means that new software should be purchased affecting the running of the organization.

Given that all organizations export their products, they have to encounter competition in the global market. There are various forces that may influence the competitive place of an organization – these are other companies supplying the same outputs, and consumers that are not purchasing the output.

Any alterations in these forces needs appropriate changes in the organization. With a liberalized economy, there are very many international organizations in the market. This implies that organizations should have to restructure themselves to comply with the new situation (Paton, Beranek & Smith, 2008).

Buyers have constant changing demands on the products and services offered in the market. Organizations will therefore need to change their products to meet the requirements of the buyers (Petrescu, 2011).

Socio-cultural changes are evident in the daily lives of people in terms of their methods of working, needs and objectives. They affect the behavior of the workers in organizations and are as a result of different educational backgrounds, urbanization, self-governance and globalization. Adjustments are therefore necessary to tone with people.

Legal and political factors majorly describe the activities that can be undertaken by an organization and techniques that will be pursued by it in reaching those interests (Kereber & Buono, 2005). Any changes in these factors may influence the running of the organization.

Internal analysis

Any alteration in the internal factors of an organization may demand change. Such changes are needed due to changes in management personnel and insufficiency in present organizational customs. There is always a change in managerial positions within organizations due to retirement, dismissal, promotion or transfers.

Every leader works in whatever way they know best. When a new leader is appointed, he brings in his own ideas with him (Maurer, 2011). Employee – management relationship often changes due to new management. To add on that, the personnel will change their outlook on operations even though there are no changes thereby forcing the organization to change.

The nature of the personnel changes with time. Employees who are above 50 years are loyal and respect their employers. Employees between 30 and 40 years are only loyal to themselves. Employees below 30 years only respect their careers and are loyal to them. The personnel profile is rapidly changing too (Tushman, Reilly & Charles, 1996).

The new generation of employees is well educated and concentrates on personal value and even query the authority of the management. They have a very complex behavior, thus driving them to achieve organizational success which is difficult for the managers.

The stability of an organization is a major internal factor of change. When an organization has financial problems, the management will have to look at every possible alternative for the business to survive. These alternatives may include reducing operations, doing away with programs, which are not profitable and cutting operating costs.

Cutting costs may even mean reducing the number of employees. Downsizing of employees often brings numerous problems caused by overworking, which may lead to employee strikes (Isaksen, 2007). The management usually faces hard times as they are confused on what measure to take. It is important that they consult different constituents to come up with the best solution that will not greatly affect the running of the organization.

Stakeholder Analysis and Management (Kotter)

Stakeholder analysis is not a very simple task to perform. The leader has to come up with decisions that may affect or be affected by needs of stakeholders. Stakeholders have the capacity to oppose changes made in an organization or influence them (Kotter, 1990). Stakeholders’ interest is not only in the financial benefits of an organization but also on its management.

The importance of analyzing the various interests of stakeholders in an organization is to invent a plan that can get the biggest support. This involves doing away with barriers that could hinder the change from taking place.

Stakeholder analysis entails involving stakeholders at every stage of the organizational change to enhance the efficiency of programs and services.

The process of solicitating interests, priorities, and concerns of stakeholders in the initial stages of monitoring and evaluation, helps in addressing the needs of stakeholders and also assists in behavioral change. Involving stakeholders and putting their opinions to account gives prospects to inquire on assumptions and investigate other explanations and add to innovation and learning. It also enhances the acceptance of change (Kotter, 1990).

Identification of Customers, Suppliers, and Competitors (Porter’s 5-Forces Model)

Rivalries usually develop among organizations competing for the same market. Competitors employ methods of advertising, warranties, and competitions of prices to improve their market share in specific industries. Rivalry may sometimes cause slow growth in industries and price cutting and investments of high-stake. Changes that may be introduced in any organization should be positive to give it a competitive edge.

The strength of suppliers is enhanced when a group of companies run them because there will be no substitute products. The organization has no control over these effects. Organizational changes should always be strategized to modify the power of suppliers (Stonehouse & Snowdon, 2007).

The power of buyers is vital. Buyers are capable of pushing prices down and demanding better quality products and services. Buyers are more powerful when they are in large numbers, the products and services are important aspects of the buyer, switching costs are minimal, and the buyer has complete disclosure on supply, costs, demand, and prices. The bargaining power of buyers varies with time and the competitive strategy of an organization.

The threat of new entrants relies on an industry’s economies of scale, switching costs, product differentiation, government regulations, and requirements of capital for entry (Potter, 1998). New organizations can anticipate barriers like technology, labor forces, and strategic planning in the business.

Driving and restraining forces

Driving forces encourage the process of change to have effect. They easen the process of change as they push people toward the direction of change, and cause a move in equilibrium towards change. Restraining forces oppose driving forces. They prevent change as they make people go against change. They therefore influence a shift in equilibrium, which counters the effort of change (Humphreys, 2005).

Passive resistance

This is a method of protest that does not involve any violence against laws so as to force a change. It involves acts like strikes, demonstrations, and boycotts. Passive resistance has characteristics like worrying and complaining about the strategy of change management. Passive resistance is a serious case and needs to be reviewed. It is a distraction that can reduce the pace of the whole organization’s rate of learning and acceptance of the strategy of change management.

Aggressive resistance

Aggressive resistance is expressed in hostile behaviors that show aggression. It can be defined as a personality disorder expressed by negative attitudes and resistance in work-related situations. This type of resistance is manifested in procrastination, stubbornness, and deliberate failures in completing tasks that one is assigned (Ford & Ford, 2009).

Embracing change

For the continued existence of organizations, it is necessary to adapt to new environmental and market demands. Employees and organizations that embrace change are more successful, unlike the resistors who eventually accept change. Sometimes change is so difficult that it is sometimes resisted. The process of change needs determination and vision. During the process of change, motivators, and trainings are necessary. The environment should be conducive enough to allow change.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT signifies the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of an organization. SWOT analysis evaluates the internal weaknesses and strengths of a company with threats and opportunities in its external surroundings. It is an important planning tool when evaluating an organization.

It is founded on the notion that managers can use it to choose the perfect strategy to ensure the success of an organization. An organization’s strength is very important as it grants a competitive advantage over other similar companies. It gives an organization a good position in the market. Organizations should ensure that they do not affect their strengths while implementing changes (Tushman, Reilly & Charles, 1996).

A weakness on the other hand, puts an organization at risk. It is a disadvantage of the company, and it makes it viable to competitive forces (Paton, Beranek & Smith, 2008). Weaknesses need to be scrutinized closely as they can cause the downfall of organizations. Weaknesses may include lack of a clear vision, poor image, poor technology and facilities, and low employee motivation.

An organization should ensure that implementation of any change is aimed at reducing the weaknesses in the organization and not enhancing them. Change should always do away with the weaknesses if not reduce them.

Opportunities are conditions that favor the organization and can be employed for constructive reasons. Opportunities are usually presented by the outside environment, and it is up to the company to maximize on them (Kereber & Buono, 2005).

These opportunities may be brought about by a conducive change in the environment or by the government in making the external environment suitable for them. Examples of opportunities may include new improved technologies, vertical integration, and powerful economies. Leaders should ensure that any change implemented will maximize all the organization’s opportunities.

Not all changes have a positive impact in the organization. External changes may also be a threat to the organizations. Leaders should be able to foresee such probable threats and impact changes that will neutralize the threat. New regulations, economic recession, and cheaper technology are examples of threats. Organizational changes should help in the reducing the effects of these threats and not enhance them.

Kotter’s view on change

Sense of urgency

For change to take place, it is easier if the whole organization needs the change. A sense of urgency on the need for change needs to be created. This assists in enhancing the initial plan of making things happen (Kotter, 1990). It should be a very convincing talk on the current status of the market and what the organization’s competitors are doing that has necessitated change. If employees start discussing the change, it is as good as done.

This talk should include the identification of possible threats to organizations and demonstrate what could take place in the future. The leader should look at the opportunities that can be exploited by the organization should the change be implemented. Initiate a powerful discussion that will convince the employees and get them thinking.

Consultation to support the argument can be sought from stakeholders and customers that are not directly linked to the organization. Kotter stresses that change cannot be effective if three-quarters of the organization are not for the idea. Therefore, the need for change should be stressed to employees for them to understand and buy into the change (Kerber & Buono, 2005).

Formation of a strong Coalition

People need to be convinced that they need the proposed change. This requires powerful leadership and evident support from the top management in the organization. Change should not just be managed but sustained. A coalition is therefore important to persuade the employees who have different sources of power like political significance, status, and skills.

When the coalition is organized, it should move together as a team and continue to develop the urgency and force surrounding the need for change (Humpreys & Langford, 2008). For a coalition to be formed; the leaders need to be identified and emotional support sought from them. Team building also has to be reinforced in the coalition. Weak areas in the team need to be discovered and filled. The team should also have various employees from different sections and levels of the organization.

Develop a vision for change

Before a vision is developed the organization needs to know its current state and what it intends to achieve from the change. When a vision is clear, employees get to understand the importance of change and why they should embrace it. When employees get the picture of what the change will do for them and for the organization, they will see the reason for change and accept it.

The most important values need to be sought first followed by a statement of the expectations of the change in future. The vision should be executed by creating a strategy that can execute it. The coalition formed should understand the vision and practice it most of the time (Mathews, 2009).

Communicating the vision

Conveying the vision after its formation is very important. The vision needs to be communicated regularly and powerfully to make it more effective. It should also be inclined with everything that happens in the organization. The vision should not just be communicated in meetings but all the time. It should also be employed in the handling of issues in the organization and making of decisions. It should be top of the mind in every employee’s mind and demonstrated by the leaders (Isaksen, 2007).

Do away with obstacles

The above steps done, it is assumed that the employees will concentrate on the changes. Although all this is taking place, the management should ensure that there are no barriers disrupting the process of change. Doing away with obstacles can help in empowering of employees implement the vision and assist the process of change forge ahead.

Types of change

There are three types of change that are interrelated. These are guided, planned, and directed change. Directed change is propelled from top management and depends on authority, conformity, and persuasion. Leaders develop and state the change and try to convince the employees to embrace it, according to the importance of the business, emotional pleas, and logical reasons. Directed change exposes a quick, important approach to initiating change in an institution.

Planned change, which is very common, originates from any point in the organization although it is supported by the top. Leaders of change and initiators look for involvement in and loyalty to change by employing the use of particular actions, categorized through experience and investigations, which moderate the normal opposition and productivity damages linked with directed change (Coghlan, 1994).

Rather than developing and proclaiming a change, planned change gives an approach to the process of change. It tries make people participate in the process of change, recognizing, and supporting major stakeholders to take part in the outline and execution of the change.

Guided change is a completely different type of change. It originates at any level in the organization. It is founded on the loyalty of the employees and their input to the objective of the organization. In the competitive environment of today, this is the best method as it maximizes the skills and creativity of employees, as natural changes surface and develop, reorganizing current models and practices, and analyzing new concepts and perspectives (Paton, Beranek & Smith, 2008).

Guided change is a process of interaction of previous understanding and design, execution, and improvisation, gaining knowledge from the sharing the knowledge with others, bringing about constant re-interpretation and restoration of change as required. This learning contributes to constant enhancement of existing efforts of change and the capacity to produce new changes and resolutions. Each of the above types of changes has their positive and negative effects.

When directed change is not properly utilized, employees are forced to adjust to the reactions of the receivers to whom the change is imparted. These reactions include anger, loss, denial, bargaining, and sadness. Likewise, even as planned change develops a significant potential in the organizations of today when not well used it can lead to major drops in productivity, overcome the employees with its density, and isolate major stakeholders as a consequence of partial participation and good impact in the process.

Planned change has a similar shortcoming when there is no flexibility in the conditions of change. Efforts of planned change many a times restrain the capability of the company to reach its set goals.

To add on that the trouble for commencing and maintaining the change is still put directly on the management, from recognizing the importance of change and developing an image of aspired results to determining which changes are finally feasible (Petrescu, 2011). Guided change if not well employed can play a part in organizational problems, as constant changes and evolutions complicate and frustrate instead of enlightening employees and other major stakeholders.

Driving Forces of change and resistors to change

For change to occur, the driving forces should be more powerful than the preventive forces. A number of employees resist about any type of change. The leaders and managers should be able to handle the opposers of change and pay attention to their fears and remarks. When the opposers realize that their concerns are listened to, they will also give in to other opinions. In some situations, however, resistors of change need to be done away with regardless of their opinions.

Leadership role is very important in the execution of a major change. The leader is required to have a plan that focuses on the launching event, training, and orientation, monitoring, reward, progress report, and institutionalization. The launching event is very important as it gives the leader a chance to state the change with reasons for, and how the employees will gain from it.

The leader is also required to state the major challenges that will come with the change and explain the execution program. This event is supposed to be exciting and inspiring. This can be done by issuing of t-shirts, and souvenirs connected to the change program (Lewis, Schmisseur, Stephens & Weir, 2006).

Change needs employees to act in new ways. It is good to give employees the training and skills that they require for the change. A needs assessment is therefore important to know exactly what is missing and what is needed. Acquiring the correct training program is the next step (Laurie et al 2006). At this point, just-in-time training is advisable.

Monitoring and measuring of the change is important. The results of the change need to measured to know just how good or bad the change is. The leader is mandated to monitor the whole practice and keep the employees up to date with the progress. Execution of any big change needs course rectifications and adjustments.

Rewarding and recognizing the efforts made by the management, and the employees is very important (Maurer, 2011). It builds momentum and motivates people to continue working and embrace the change the more.

Progress reports keep people updated with the process of change. This should be done via the organization newsletters, memos, meetings, videos, and e-mails. The leader should hold meetings regularly with the management to state pressing matters.

Institutionalization needs the absorption of change into the strategies, job descriptions, and the organization’s practices. The company infrastructure should be able to sustain the new changes for the change to be permanent. Revising the manuals and procedures to incorporate the change makes it more permanent (Isasken, 2007).

Implementing an organizational change is not an easy task. The leadership role at this point is very crucial, and the leader must understand the functions and responsibilities of the project manager and employees and his own role in implementing the change.

Cost of change

When a change is very costly, the chances of executing it are very slim. Cheap changes are easily implemented that major changes. Change involves training. Education is not cheap, especially for the entire organization as they may need a week’s training or training until change has been fully executed. Labor changes are also very expensive. Conducting of interviews and employment of new staff is also very costly (Tushman, Reilly & Charles, 1996).

Resistance to change

There are numerous ways in which resistance to change can be conquered. Education and communication assists in realizing the need for change. This can be done by presentations, discussions, reports or journals. For this to work there has to be trust between the leaders and the employees. Employees have to trust their leaders in order to listen to them and follow their orders.

Participation and involvement entails the whole organization. When employees take part in the process of change there is a very small chance that they will resist it. Participation makes the employees committed to the change and enhances the reason for change.

Facilitation and support from the leaders is very important when implementing change. This includes being open-minded, letting the employees share their views, and using their ideas (Kereber & Buono, 2005). They should ensure that the work environment is accommodative and pleasant for workers. Training where necessary is recommended.

Negotiation and appreciation requires the leaders to offset resistance by giving incentives to the employees who cooperate. This may include increasing of salaries and giving of bonuses.

Manipulation takes place when the leaders are choosy on the employees who get news, how much news they give, the accuracy of the news, and when to circulate the news to improve the possibility that the change will be triumphant. Cooptation entails a major role in the process of change (Humpreys & Langford, 2008). The advice of leaders is required to get their support. Manipulation and cooptation ways are not costly, and they manipulate probable resistors of change to embrace change. However, these methods can fail if the employees get to know that they are being deceived, thus destroying the reliability of the leaders.


Benchmarking entails setting up measures of performance by use of relative data on major operations of the organization from competitor organizations in the industry. Management can push organizational change by employing insights obtained from benchmarking on the practices of the industry and the perceptions of customers (Michelman, 2007).

Before going into benchmarking, it is important to ascertain the target customers who describe their particular needs. It also helps in widening the potential industries and customers lying within the benchmarking scope of the company. Classify the drivers of business present for each product and service given by the organization. These can be the major drivers of business capable of managing costs of operation. Statistics about the competitor companies should also be accessed.

This can be derived from government sources, publications or the Internet. The organization’s performance should be compared with that of the selected company. The operation should be on internal, financial, and production matters as compared to the benchmark position of the organization.

The benchmark research should be used to initiate change. The benchmark research assists the leaders in implementing organizational change as it gives explanation for change. On the other hand, business intelligence derived through benchmark research can force internal changes and help organizations in responsibility of its destiny (Tushman, Reilly & Charles, 1996).


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