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How important is for manager today to understand the process of change management?
Change is everywhere, especially in these highly technological times. The world changes very quickly and all organizations should adhere to the rapid changes taking place every day. Thus, change happens in all business organizations no matter what size and profile. It is imperative for organizations to skillfully handle changes if not, they may wither away. The concept of “change management” is a common term in the business jargon. Businesses must intelligently manage change and their adaptations vary on the nature of their organization, the changes they need to apply and how receptive the people in their organization would be. Hence, it is paramount for organizational members to understand the process of change. Most especially, it is highly important that managers are able to embrace the dynamics of change. vity. They are
extremely useful tools to refocus attention (Boutcher, 1997).
Successful adaptation to change is as crucial within an organization as it is in the natural world. As individuals, people must carry over with the change sin their everyday lives. This is true with all living organisms that need to adapt in their external environment. Hence, the more successful an individual or an organization deal with changes, the more likely they are to thrive and succeed in their lives and/or in their goals. Their adaptations involve establishing a structured method for responding to changes in the business environment (such as business fluctuations or new competitors) or developing coping mechanisms for responding to changes in the workplace. (Worren, Ruddle, & Moore 1999:273)
Change management is a structured approach to the change in individuals, teams, organizations and societies that enables the transition from a current state to a desired future state. (Beitler 2006:5) It provides a framework for managing changes. Change management has three different aspects: adapting to change, controlling change, and effecting change. (Change Management Learning Center 2008:1) This can be viewed from the point of an individual and from the perspective of an organization. An individual may change his behavior to adopt to change. Similarly, a business organization may change their business process to carry on with new competitors. In both aspects, a proactive approach to dealing with change is ideal.
Change management, as a field of science, evolved from psychology, business and engineering. (Worren, Ruddle, & Moore 1999:274) Its models are taken from an organization development perspective while others are based on the individual behavioral model. Hence, change management is divided into two categories - Individual Change Management and Organizational Change Management. We will be concern with the latter as we will discuss the importance of the manager’s understanding of the concept of change.
Organizational change management includes processes and tools for managing the people side of the change at an organizational level. These tools include a structured approach that can be used to effectively manage groups or organizations through change. Contextualized with individual change management, these tools provide a framework for managing the people side of change. (Levy & Merry 1986: 4) Lewin’s Model is one of the cornerstone models in change management. Developed in the 1950’s, this model is also known as Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze, referring to his described stages of change. A person starts by creating the motivation to change (unfreeze). Then, he moves through the change process by promoting effective communications and empowering people to embrace new ways of working (change). He ends with stabilizing the organization (refreeze). (Mind Tools 2008)
Why is change management important for management?
It is imperative that managers be at the forefront of organizational change. They have the utmost responsibility to lead and manage their organization through the various stages and situations that need changes. They need to manage change in such a way that their work force can cope up with it. The manager has a responsibility to facilitate and enable change and all the other necessary arrangements. The managers and top executives also need to interpret, communicate and enable the change management processes in such a way that the employees will understand and follow. (Levy & Merry 1986:52)
Managers need to evaluate internal and external conditions to be able to identify changes and initiate programs before such adaptation is late. They need to estimate the impact of change to their work force, especially how the change will affect the employees’ behavior patterns, work processes, technological requirements, and motivation. (Worren, Ruddle, & Moore 1999:273-286) Management must assess the employees’ reaction so that they will devise their programs of change according to the acceptable level of adopting change. They must also be flexible to administer the changes, monitor it, and revise programs when it is necessary.
As detailed above, effective change management requires a manager’s understanding of the dynamics and requirements of change and its possible effects on the organization as a whole, and to its people, resources and the stakeholders. Change management is crucial for the survival and improvement of an organization. Thus, it is equally important that a manager knows how to lead the organization, especially its people, through change. Change management comprises of eight major components. These are readiness assessment, communication and communication planning, coaching and manager training for change management, training and training development, sponsor activities and sponsor roadmaps, resistance management, data collection, feedback analysis and corrective action, and after-action review. (Change Management Learning Center 2008) These eight components must be applied by managers or project leaders effectively in order that the change is successfully implemented. These are also important in order to avoid the loss of valued employees, and minimize the negative impact of the change on productivity and a company's customers. (Change Management Learning Center 2008)
Similarly, he needs to analyze important feedbacks and apply corrective measures as he implements change. A manager without a thorough understanding of change management will not be able to utilize important feedbacks and resistance for productive purpose. He will not also be bale to appreciate corrective steps and reprisal to identify failures, successes and areas of improvements which will ultimately lead to the desired effects.
Nickols (2006:1) outlines the major set of skills that managers need to have in order to effectively lead the organization towards change management. It includes political skills, analytical skills, people skills, system skills, and business skills. Political skills refer to the skills needed by the managers in an organizational environment that acts as a social system. Since this will be the main venue for change, various interests are threatened and he needs to secure these stakeholders at the same time that he is implement ting policies that will affect them. Analytical skills refer to how he will evaluate the workflow operations or systems and the financial standing of the organization in line with the needed changes. Employees will be the primary adversaries and proponents of change and the manager needs people skills in dealing with them. The skills most needed in this area are those that typically fall under the heading of communication or interpersonal skills.
If we digest the major concepts of change management, we will see that most of the daunting tasks are relegated to management. The obvious definition of “change management” is that the term refers to the task of managing change. Managing change is almost exclusive to top management since the subordinates will just have to adapt to the changes and make feedbacks or resistance. The task of managing change is conceived and organized by managers. He evaluates all organizational considerations and goals in order to come up with the heeded changes that will bring positive results. In implementing change, there are numerous situations which call for the manager’s professional knowledge, experience, expertise, leadership, creativity, and innovation. After all, change management is all about innovating ways to adhere to the goals by adapting certain measures. The manager needs to be equipped with special tools and skills to apply change management and steer the whole organization. Technology is the number solution to almost all management problems and this is especially helpful in change management. He must adapt to change with the aid of technological solutions and tools. Management tools are also a very good resource from which he could devise strategies and methods to effectively lead the organization in change management. In the very dynamic and fast changing business environment, a manger needs to thoroughly and completely understand the concepts, applications and requirements of change management if he wants to lead his organization towards improvement and ultimate success.
Beitler, Michael 2006, Strategic Organizational Change, 2nd ed., New York: Practitioner Press International.
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Levy, A. & Merry, U. 1986, Organizational Transformation: Approaches, Strategies, Theories, New York, Praeger Publishers.
Mind Tools 2008, Lewis Change Management Model, viewed on February 16, 2008, < http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_94.htm>.
Nickols, F. 2006, Change Management 101: A Primer. Distance Consulting Website, viewed on February 15, 2008, .
Worren, N. A. M., Ruddle, K., & Moore, K. 1999, From Organizational Development to Change Management: The Emergence of a New Profession, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. 35 (3): 273-286.