«MICHAIL MAVROMATIS JOHAN OLOFSSON Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Division of Construction Management CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF ...»
When setting a vision, it is up to the owners to define where they want to see the company in a determined future. This vision is communicated to the board of directors, which authorizes the chief executive officer to implement certain strategies to reach that vision. The strategies are communicated to the different departments, which has responsibility for achieving these through the identification of critical success factors that has to be met. These critical success factors can be broken down into key results indicators, results indicators, performance indicators and key performance indicators, which the employees can relate to in their daily work.
The aim is to create an organizational environment that encourages continuous improvements in the organizations strive towards the fulfilment of its vision. The organizations that manages to create such environments do have competent leaders, wherefore the authors of this thesis has tried to understand what makes a good leader, or more precisely, what makes a good change leader. In order to understand this, an examination of different leadership styles has been carried out. It has been noticed that the most commonly used leadership styles during change processes are transactional and transformational leadership, where a transactional leader is as one that uses contingent rewards, manages by exception and uses elements of laissez-faire and transformational leaders uses charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration.
CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 23 Another way of looking at change leadership is the theory about the E and O leadership and the problem of balancing between them. Theory E concerns the hard side of management, namely the economic aspects and theory O concerns the soft side of management, namely the organizational behaviours. The aim is to balance between them, so that the leaders can achieve the benefits from both of them and in that way maximize the chance of a successful organizational transformation. Another way of looking at successful change leadership is the stage model, which can be seen as a practical method of the Theory E and O. Leaders can, by using the stage model, identify how to work towards balancing the hard and soft side of management and become a better leader, both for the personnel as well as for the organization’s needs. When reaching the highest stage of leadership, one can be seen as a truly effective and empathetic leader that has the abilities to obtain and manage a successful transition of the organization.
As mentioned above, the owners set a vision for where they want the organization to be in a defined future, and to meet this vision the organization as to go through a transition phase, or a journey towards the future. The theories about journey management start with the model of unfreezing, movement and refreezing. This model has been adapted to a more modern view where organizations cannot refreeze, or they will not be able to reach a state where they are adapting continuous improvements and constant changes. Nowadays the theories state that there is a current state, that is how the organization is functioning today, and then there is a future state, which is what the organization strives towards. In order to reach that desired future, the organization has to go through a transition, where they change operations and behaviors that are not in line with the vision of the desired future state.
When leading a transition from the current state to the future state, there is most often a need make changes within the organization. There are many theories concerning organizational change, and how to lead those. The most influential ones are presented in chapter 2.3.1. Below there is a list in which the authors of this thesis have tried to identify the 10 steps that these theories about leading organizational change has in common. The aim when conducting organizational changes is to adapt a learning organization that is in constant change through continuous improvements. The 10 steps
of leading change, compiled by the authors of this thesis are:
1. Identify and understand why and what shall be changed
2. Establish a sense of urgency
3. Encourage people to join a guiding coalition and assign a project leader i.e. a change agent
4. Develop a change vision and common goals for what to achieve
5. Create a detailed change plan
6. Communicate extensively about the change and what’s happening in the process
7. Empower employees to act on the change
8. Create short-term wins
9. Reinforce and refine the change in order to sustain it and not lose momentum
10. Consolidate and produce more change Another important aspect when leading change is to be capable of identifying the level of the change, and adapt ones leadership after that situation. A corect identification of the change can help to adapt a sufficient leadership for that change event, since a small change demands amuch lower amount of leading than a large one.
The level of change ranges from a fine tuning of small parts within the organization to CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 a total transformation, where the whole organization is reengineerd. The leadership styles reccomended for those changes ranges from a collaborative to a coercive style, where the collaborative leader can be ssen as a transfomrational leader that focuses more on the human side, whilst a coercive leader is more of a transactional leader focusing more on the execution of the change.
During the implementation phase of a change program, it is important to consider people’s behaviors and feeling. All humans reacts different to changes, where some tend to neglect them, some welcomes them and some worries a lot of what is about to come. Almost all humans react in the same way, but to different extent, to changes.
They go through four phases, which are denial, resistance, confusion and commitment. These phases have to be managed properly by leaders in order to upkeep the productivity in the highest extent possible and hindering people from worrying too much and therefore resist to the changes. By managing the neutral zone, which is the time between the old habits are let go and the new beginning, the change process can be smoothened. Due to the different times that different level of the organization are aware of the changes, all employees within the organization is at different places of the transition curve at all the time, wherefore leaders must be able to adapt different leadership styles to different peoples all the time. The most sufficient way to manage the neutral zone, and make the transition phase is communication and commitment from leaders. By being change agents that communicates what’s good with the changes and have a true commitment to it, the rest of the organization will be willing to follow them.
After the change has been implemented and the organization has adapted the changes, it is important to sustain, or institutionalize, the changes. If not doing so, there is a risk that the organization falls back into the state that was before the change, and therefore loses all the made progress. The best way of sustaining change is to incorporate the new behaviors into the everyday work of the personnel within the organization.
CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 25 Methodology This section describes how the authors have conducted the research process for this Master’s Thesis, wherefore the chosen methodological approach will be defined and critically explained. The methodology for this specific study is a qualitative singlecase study where primary data was collected via semi-structured interviews and secondary data was collected from official and un-official documents. The research method was inspired by abductive principles. In studies relying on abduction, the original framework is successfully modified, partly as a result of unanticipated empirical findings, but also of theoretical insights gained during the process (Dubois and Gadde, 2002).
The method that was followed for this thesis was an abductive approach to a case study. The first step was to collect literature and opinions about our topic, namely change management. After a generic overview of the organizational change management literature we decided to place our focus on leadership. The literature that we focused on varied; from handbooks of leadership to in-depth articles regarding leaders and behaviors of the organizations. However this literature part was not sufficient for our research. Therefore, we turned towards a Gothenburg-based real estate company, which was about to undergo an organizational change process. After meeting with an executive by the side of the company we modified the scope of our case study and found a common ground for our research to be useful to the company. The next step
was our presentation to the rest of the company and a short introduction in our research. The core of our case study is a series of interviews conducted with a representative sample of employees. This sample of employees consists of the following:
The CEO • An area property manager • Two project managers • A property manager • A technical property manager • The Communication Manager • Except for the semi-structured interviews we conducted an informal study of the company by having almost daily contact with the rest of the employees. This way we attempted to access the ‘corridor-talk’ of the company and get an unofficial overview on how the employees experience the change. Particularly, we followed closely one of the property technicians, which belong to a department that was highly affected by the process. We conducted three series of interviews with the personnel mentioned above. The first interview had an introductory character, meaning that we tried to familiarize ourselves to the interviewees in order to gain their confidence. Confidence was really important to gain since our questions were touching upon sensitive issues of relations within the organization. The first interview also attempted to examine the past of this organizational change and how the company reached to the point of performing it. Furthermore, this initial interview attempted to examine how the employees see the company in the future. The second one was shorter and it was an attempt to follow-up on the process and compare with the answers of the first interview. After the second interview, there was a need for a customization of the process so one more person was interviewed. The reason was that it came up that this person belonged to the most change-affected group of employees so their opinion was critical. The third interview was conclusive and another attempt to follow-up the whole process. FurCHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 thermore, we attempted to get some external opinions and points of view regarding leadership and change management, so we had the chance to conduct short interviews with two consultants in two respective consultant companies and one experienced CEO and member of various boards. During the whole process we kept a daily case log where we kept track of the activity within the company. Our everyday presence in the company was documented and the results of our observations were orderly kept in the daily log.
1.1 Research approach, process and case selection The case study selection was based on the current situation of the company that we investigated. They happened to undergo a change process exactly at the time that the authors selected to conduct this study. Therefore, the situation was phenomenal in order to be able to follow the process in ‘real time’. After contacting the supervisor by the side of the company and after some productive discussions the authors reached the conclusion to investigate the leadership during the change.
1.2 Data collection Semi-structured interviews were selected as the means of data collection because of two primary considerations. First, they are well suited for the exploration of the perceptions and opinions of respondents regarding complex and sometimes sensitive issues and enable probing for more information and clarification of answers. Second, the varied professional, educational and personal histories of the sample group precluded the use of a standardized interview schedule (Barriball & White, 1994). The data collection was divided in three parts. The first part was a series of semistructured interviews with certain individuals throughout the company, the second was the informal observations that the authors conducted during their time in the company’s offices, and the third was the documentation provided to the authors by the company. This documentation was annual reports, workshop minutes, and a research regarding the employee satisfaction in the company. The last was conducted by external consultants. The authors chose to focus the interviews on individuals that had a direct effect on the change process, namely a number of executives including the CEO. However, in order to validate the results and be able to view the subject from a different angle, the authors interviewed a few individuals, which were not located on a leader position. There were three series of interviews with six different individuals.
The first interview attempted to create an environment of trust between the interviewers and the interviewees, since the questions asked were addressing private opinions.
In order to achieve that, the interviewees asked questions about the background and the career of the interviewees as well as their personal perception of the company. The second interview attempted to follow up on the first, while the third attempted to confirm what the interviewees stated in the first two interviews. After every series of interviews the authors had new data and theory, which complemented the interview cycle. The second interview also showed that there is another group that is also affected heavily by the change, so the authors contacted one member of this group, which got interviewed after that. The interview guides are to be found in the appendices.
1.3 Trustworthiness The interview questions were formulated on the basis of theory and previous findings.