«MICHAIL MAVROMATIS JOHAN OLOFSSON Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Division of Construction Management CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF ...»
The changes characterized by how it comes about are based on the assumption that the dominant approaches are planned and emergent change complimented with contingency and choice changes.
2.3.3 Implementing change All changes involve people, wherefore the human behaviors during change processes are important to understand, not just only to maximize the chances for success but also to minimize the anxiety amongst employees within the organization. As Bridges and Mitchell (2000) state, all changes cause losses wherefore leaders has an important role to play in the process of transition during the change process. They shall act as guides for the employees during this process, and they must therefore understand how the dynamics of people’s behaviors affects the organization (Ibid). The difference between change and transition is, as Austin and Currie (2003) state, that change is situational and external, something management tend to focus e.g., a new boss, new policies or a new workspace whilst transition is psychological and internal, or something that people experience e.g., feelings towards the new boss or workplace or policies.
This difference is important to understand as a leader, since human behaviors affect the outcome of the change process, and the process can be shortened and put through more effectively minimizing organizational anxiety and loss of efficiency (Ibid).
The process of transition is shown in Figure 8, where the different states of mind, or people’s emotions, are noted on the grey line, with important feelings accented and identified as announcement, shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance. The person’s productivity is noted on the black line, depending on the emotions shown. Cullberg and Lundin (2006) divides these phases into four moods or CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 phases, namely the denial phase where employees says “it won’t affect me”, the resistance phase “I don’t want to”, confusion “what is it all about?” and the commitment phase “ok, I’m in!”. The transition process can be divided into three phases, the letting go-loss phase, the neutral zone and the new beginnings.
Figure 8 Emotions during the transition phase (Austin and Currie 2003, pp. 233)
Another view is presented by Janssen (1996) who divides the change process into four rooms, which also can be seen as phases. The first room is where the employees are satisfied and don’t want to change, the next room is denial or censoring where the satisfaction decreases and a defense for the existing arises, leaving a feeling of denial for what is about to come. The third room is confusion where one is not letting go of the old and is somewhat unsure about the new. The last room is the inspirational or where one is realizing the new opportunities that come with the change.
The most difficult part for leaders is to manage the neutral zone, or the anxiety and fear that will arise amongst the personnel (Austin and Currie 2003). Much of it depending on the different time, or pace, it takes for different persons within different levels of the organization. This is called the marathon effect (Bridges and Mitchell
2000) and it says that the higher a leader sits in the organization, the more quickly is he or she tending to move through the change process because they can see the intended destination long before the rest of the organization even know that the process has started, see Figure 9, which might lead to that senior management forgets that others will take longer to make the transition and therefore might rush the organization which might lead to failure of the change program.
CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 19 Figure 9 Timeline of change, as perceived on different levels of an organization (Austin and Currie 2003, pp.
237) In order to manage the transition process Bridges and Mitchell (2010) suggest a seven-step plan that leaders shall adapt and use towards the employees. First: learn to describe the change and why it must happen. Second: plan all details carefully, assign responsibility for each detail, and establish a timeline and a communication plan.
Third: understand who is going to let go of what, what is ending in people’s work life and career, and what people should let go of. Forth: help people to respectfully let go of the past, mostly by communicating and giving a constant stream of information.
Fifth: help people through the neutral zone with communication, rather than information. Use the four P: s of transition communication: purpose (why), picture (what the goal is), plan (how), part (what you need to do). Sixth: create temporary solutions to temporary problems and the high level of uncertainty in the neutral zone. And finally: help people to launch the new beginning by articulating the new attitudes and behaviors needed to make the change work. During the neutral zone, leaders might also set short term goals so people feel achievement, review the policies and procedures, develop the temporary roles and celebrate small wins through a non-overpromising culture and also provide training on teamwork (Ibid).
Important aspects of maximizing the chance for a successful transition are communication of (Goodman and Truss 2004) and commitment to change (Brown and Cregan 2008). Communication is a very important aspect, both internal as external (Daft 2008), and needs to be managed to gain commitment amongst the employees (Simonsson and Halvarsson 2006). Goodman and Truss (2004) emphasize the importance of choosing the right method, and also the most suitable timing and media for communication, saying that there are four level of communication, suitable for different types of change, ranging from routine to complex. These are face-to-face, interactive, personal memos and general bulletins. This view is supported by Clegg et al (2011) who state that there are four different levels, similar to Goodman and Truss’ (2004), of communication, dyadic, small-group, organizational and mass communication. Each method, and chosen media, of communication is more suitable for different situation, with the common denominator of stating that it is important to communicate to and inform all employees as much as possible (Clampitt and Berk 1996). CommuCHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 nication during transitions is of high importance since it reduces the employees’ anxiety and increases their acceptance to the change implementation (Hartley and Bruckham 2000), which will lead to a much higher commitment towards the change program, which in turn leads to a much higher chance of organizational change success (Lorenzi and Riley 2000).
A well-managed transition process is shown in Figure 10, where the leaders have managed the organizational anxiety and employee’s emotion properly. The result of a well-managed process of transition, or change process, is that the organizations productivity does not decrease in any great extent (Austin and Currie 2003).
Figure 10 The impact of a well-managed organizational change (Austin and Currie 2003, pp. 242) 2.3.4 Sustaining change After the implementation phase, it is important to monitor how the change is perceived within the organization. This is important due to the need of sustaining the change so that the organizations do not fall back into the state that existed before the change, with the risk of not obtaining the expected outcome. In order to monitor how the change has affected the organization, one has to establish the change, or sustain it, and thereafter assess, follow up, the process in order to receive organizational learning.
To make an organizational change successful the change must be sustained over time within the organization, which is reflected in Lewin’s concept of refreezing. Some organizational changes persist, while others decay when the gains from the change are lost, due to that the new practices are not sustained over time. According to Buchanan et al (2005), there are some concerns about the focus of change theories. They argue that the focus on episodic change, where periods of relative stability are followed by periods of adaption to changes, is problematic since the times of stability might be seen as organizational inertia or a lack of paying attention and reacting to signals of a changing environment. Furthermore, they argue that the ideal organization shall be CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 21 able to be capable of on-going adaption; whether the organization faces either episodic or on-going change, wherefore the leaders might see sustaining changes as losing momentum. Also, sustaining changes i.e. establishing routines is not seen as an interesting part or a career value for most managers (Ibid), wherefore it might be seen not as a condition to be achieved but more as a problem to solve. The personnel might see the desire to sustain the current methods as prevention from gaining new skills and experiences, which might lead to a loss of morale (Ibid). Therefore, it is important that the managers and the staff share the same objectives or goals. According to Rimmer (1996), the CEO has an important role; he needs to be a supporter and communicator of the change, seeking to achieve best practice for the organization, and also for achieving the financial goals.
Despite this, the preservation of change programs and sustaining the new routines is most vital in order to gain success for, and achieve advantages from, the organizational change program (Burke 2010), wherefore leaders cannot skip this phase.
Senge et al (1999) argue that sustaining a change process requires a fundamental shift in thinking, with focus on understanding the limiting processes that must be coped with. These are: the easy addressed problems which hinder the focus from the real or tough problems, reaching the limit of commitment amongst the managers, reaching undiscussable issues which might lead to conflicts and a lack of systematic thinking, or tackling the symptoms rather than the problems. In order to cope with these problems, Senge et al (2000) identify three main challenges that leaders have to deal with, namely fear and anxiety; performance measures and that old habits gain cult status and become isolated from the organization. In order to meet these challenges Senge et al (1999) suggest four approaches: individual; where those involved accepts that fear is a natural response, managerial; where managers are prepared to tackle the difficult or high risk problems, cultural; where cultural institutions within the organizations has to be changed, and processual; where sustainability can be seen as a discrete issue or as an extended process of implementation.
Kotter (2007) talks about anchoring change. In his model, he argues that change shall be institutionalized as a new approach and therefore produce still more change. (Ibid) identifies a threat to this as declaring victory too soon, where managers celebrate the first clear improvements, which might lead to slower momentum and not achieving the expected performance improvements. Furthermore, (Ibid) argues that institutionalizing changes has to dimensions, first as a link between changes in behaviors and attitudes, and performance improvements and second as a management succession, where the next generation of managers personifies the new approaches (Buchanan et al 2005). Kotter’s (2007) perspective emphasizes five categories of important aspects of influencing sustainability. These are: managerial, leadership, cultural, political and temporal.
Another important aspect when sustaining change is presented by Jacobs (2002). He argues that change has to be institutionalized, meaning that change shall last until the goals are achieved i.e. becoming a part of the everyday activities within the organization. (Ibid) identifies five categories to institutionalize changes: substantial; where the change must be seen as consistent with the organizations fit, individual; where competences, commitment and rewards are adequate, leadership; where goals are clear, consistent, stable and challenging, processual; where change has internal support and is monitored and contextual; where trade unions accept the change.
CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 In summary, according to Buchanan et al (2005), the most important perspectives
when influencing on sustainability is the:
Substantial: perceived centrality, scale fit • Individual: commitment, emotions, expectations • Managerial: style, approach, behaviors • Financial: contribution, balance of costs and benefits • Leadership: setting vision, values, goals, challenges • Organizational: policies, procedures, structure • Cultural: shared beliefs, perceptions, norms, values • Political: stakeholder and coalition power of influence • Processual: implementation methods • Contextual: external conditions, stability, threats • Temporal: timing, pacing, flow of events • Pettigrew et al (1992) argue that these perspectives have three dimensions, the internal context, the external context and the past and current events and experiences, which affect how the process of sustaining the change is perceived. Buchanan et al (2005) argue that much of the acceptance and the sustaining of change are depending on how the processes were implemented within the organization.
2.4 Theoretical summary The link between an organizations vision and how the employees are working towards its fulfilment is of great importance to understand when leading an organization. All organizations can be said to have embarked on a journey towards reaching its vision, and as a result of this, there is a constant need of organizational changes, in order to meet environmental changes, both external as well as internal. If organizations fail to adapt to these changes, there is an immediate risk of them being outrun by competitors that are much more in shape to adapt and accept the new demands.