Robarge Change, Leadership, and Vision. Trisa Robarge ORG 502. Don Gienty. January 28, 2004

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1 Robarge Change, Leadership, and Vision Trisa Robarge ORG 502 Don Gienty January 28, 2004 It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be... This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking. -Isaac Asimov

2 Robarge Table of Contents Section Page The Changing Corporation 3 Theories of Change Management 3 Change Drivers 4 Effective Change 4 Resistance & Strategy 5 Table 1: Change Resistance 7 Table 2: Overcoming Change Allergies 8 The COO as Leader & Change Agent 9 SIM Take-Aways & Summary 10 References 11

3 Robarge The Changing Corporation In looking at organizational change management, there are two incontrovertible points. Change is the only thing that does not change, and the only one who likes change is a wet baby. An analysis of the situation at Synergetic Solutions Incorporated (SSI) illustrates both of these aphorisms. A $6 million dollar corporation on the verge of enormous change, SSI requires a transformational leader who understands the external and internal drivers of change at work in the company, recognizes and applies the leadership needed to drive the change, and understands that the change process will encounter resistance. Theories of Change Management Lewin s Force Field Theory of Change Management posits that there are forces that drive change, and forces that resist change. Overcoming the resistance requires force, called unfreezing, to direct the change to a desired condition. Once the desired state is achieved, the process is refreezed to maintain the change (McShane & Von Glinow, 2002, p ). Other change management theorists believe that this process of change management is slow and not as applicable in today s fast-paced business environment. Todd Jick suggests that [change typically seems to take longer than the time desired. And every year that passes even every month is costly in terms of competitive advantage (1995, p. 77). To accelerate change processes, change agents need to recognize that typical bottlenecks in change operations stem not from systems, procedures or traditional business practices. Instead, according to Jick, people and culture change represent the key bottlenecks. Change acceleration occurs by [accelerating]

4 Robarge people s understanding of and commitment to change, [accelerating] the action and experimentation aspects of change, [and emphasizing] momentum, to both accelerate and maintain speed (1995, p. 79). Looking at the number of changes needed in SSI, as well as the short time frame in which to make the changes (nine months), an examination of the external and internal change drivers would definitely benefit the COO. Change Drivers SSI change initiatives are driven by several external factors. The company faced a stagnant market in systems integration, which prompted the CEO to re-evaluate the focus of the company. The new focus complex network design and implementation requires employee training and systems upgrades. Additionally, moving into a new market focus creates competition for skilled employees, and suppliers come and go, forcing a reevaluation of strategies. All of the external factors need to be addressed and accounted for by a COO in any change management plan. Internal drivers for change at SSI include the CEO s initiative and desire for growth, his efforts to train specialists, and the transition to a team-based structure. To address the new focus of SSI, the workflow needs to be changed, tools and technologies need to be improved, and a plan needs to be created that addresses budgetary constraints and quarterly goals. Effective Change Strategies The effective change strategy for SSI would address the external and internal change drivers as discussed above. More importantly, the plan would require looking at the forces resisting change, including an evaluation of how to overcome resistance, in a

5 Robarge timely fashion. Communication, incentive plans, improving employee skill sets, and setting up a process for including employees in the transition are critical components of a change strategy, because they help overcome resistance, and unfreeze the culture. A combination of information, communication, and education about the need for change is typically involved.when people do not fully understand the why, what, and how of change, there will be more resistance and more time required to institute change (Jick, 1995, p.79). Metrics that follow employee absenteeism and productivity, along with evaluations of revenue goals, provide the means to monitor, track, and focus the refreezing. Planning for change, working to manage change, is a critical component to change management. Of course, as Ron Rosenberg points out, You may be able to anticipate or possibly navigate change; you may even be able to influence change but it s extremely difficult to actually manage change. People drive themselves crazy trying to do it, and they become discouraged and disappointed when they can t (2003, p. 30). However, he goes on to note that having a model for change can allow leaders to drive change and function as leaders should. Resistance & Strategy A change management plan or model would be decidedly incomplete without addressing change resistance and how to overcome it, thereby increasing effectiveness of change initiatives. McShane and Von Glinow (2002) list at least six areas in which organizations and people resist change, and these are summarized and discussed in Table 1. Additionally, change resistance is noted when people have a low tolerance for change, when there is a lack of trust between employee and employer and/or management, and

6 Robarge when the assessments of change agents do not match employee assessments (Kotter & Schlesinger, 1979, p ). The effective change management plan will have to address resistance. According the Force Field Theory, the driving forces must overcome the resisting forces in order to drive change. However, it is typically not enough to increase the weight of the driving forces, as the resisting forces typically return the pressure. Instead, by working to remove resistance, change can be driven forward effectively. The article, Allergies to Change at Work, and How to Treat Them (Schaefer, 1999), discusses seven methods for overcoming allergies to change. These are listed in Table 2. All of these steps are designed to overcome each area of resistance, and may apply to more than one area.

7 Robarge Table 1: Change Resistance Resistance Area Description Direct Costs Higher costs & lower benefits = more resistance Saving Face Fear of the Unknown Breaking Routines Incongruent Organizational Systems Incongruent Team Dynamics A political strategy to prove incompetence or assign failure Increased risk of personal loss through fear of not being able to adapt to change. Habitual creatures do not like breaking habits, and like comfort zones Control systems for rewards, training, etc. are harder to change, and might not adapt quickly to the new system Team norms conflict with desired changes; conformity to the team results in change resistance Summarized from McShane & Von Glinow, 2002, pp

8 Robarge Table 2: Overcoming Change Allergies Strategy Clear & honest explanation of rationale, consequences, benefits of change Allow people to discuss & own the problems Involve people in finding solutions Move slowly, and allow success to motivate further efforts Communicate accomplishments & difficulties Allow for mistakes & a learning process Honor & celebrate the successes & efforts Resistor Direct costs, Fear of Unknown Fear of Unknown, Saving Face Saving Face, Incongruent Team Dynamics Breaking Routines, Incongruent Organizational Systems Direct Costs, Saving Face, Fear of Unknown Saving Face Just a good idea! Summarized from Schaefer, 1999, p. 16

9 Robarge The COO as Leader & Change Agent As said earlier, it is not always clear that change can be managed, but the consequences of poor change management are all too real. Holland and Skarke (2003) point out that poor change management results in confusion, deterioration in work performance, outright and underground resistance to changes, steep and long learning curves, project abandonment, and severe morale problems (p. 27). The leadership skills of the change agent, when combined with a plan for change management that recognizes resistors and drivers of change, along with means of measuring progress, can work toward successful change within SSI. A successful change agent at SSI will adopt a transformational leadership style, which is one that [goes] beyond transactional leadership and [motivates] followers to identify with the leader s vision and sacrifice their self-interest for that of the group or the organization (Eisenbach, Watson, & Pillai, 1999, p.83). While in stable organizations, the charisma and visionary aspects of the transformational leader may not be needed (Hinkin & Tracey, as cited in Eisenbach, Watson, & Pillai, 1999, p.87), the changing organization benefits from these traits. The transformational leader succeeds through a number of pathways. these leaders succeed through such transformational factors as charisma and the ability and willingness to treat different subordinates differently, as well as by providing intellectual stimulation for the employees. They frequently raise standards, take calculated risks, and get others to join them in their vision of the future. Rather than work within the organizational culture, they challenge and change that culture.self determination and self-confidence are characteristic of them. They succeed because of these transformational elements even if they have authoritarian tendencies (Bass, 1990, 18).

10 Robarge The transformational leader recognizes a basic idea of change management: that when high involvement and a system-wide approach to change are used, the potential for great results is high (Holman, 2000, p. 16). SIM Take-Aways & Summary With any change that involves cultural, procedural, and hierarchical adjustments, there are going to be stumbling points. Even when a strategy for change was developed that appeared to appropriately address issues, offer the desired returns, and meet the quarterly objectives, roadblocks came up. This highlighted that change is a constant, and it requires continuous maintenance and improvement efforts to refreeze the changed system. Furthermore, in effecting change, sometimes it will get worse before it gets better. Occasionally, the change agent has to make it worse, deliberately, in order to drive change. On the other hand, resistance to change can also make the situation worse in the short-term. By not recognizing this consequence of change up-front, the shortsighted leader could be completely de-railed by the change process. It is important to not only recognize successes, but also to congratulate employees on hard work, learn from setbacks, and discuss areas of poor performance. As long as the plan is consistently applied, employees are involved and motivated, and the leader conveys the vision and purpose of the changes in a charismatic fashion, chances for successful change within an organization are good. As an employee I can play a critical role in change, and as a future leader and manager, I need to know how to inspire, motivate, and align my co-workers with my visions for change. In these ways, this simulation addressed both my current need and my future potential.

11 Robarge References Bass, B.M. (1990, Winter). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), Eisenbach, R., Watson, K., & Pillai, R. (1999). Transformational leadership in the context of organizational change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 12(2), Holland, D., & Skarke, G. (2003, July/August). Change management for big systems. Industrial Management, 45(4), Holman, P. (2000, July). Culture change. Executive Excellence, 17(7), 17. Jick, T.D. (1995, Summer). Accelerating change for competitive advantage. Organizational Dynamics, 24(1), Kotter, J.P., & Schlesinger, L.A. (1979, March/April). Choosing strategies for change. Harvard Business Review, 57(2), McShane, S. L., & Von Glinow, M.A. (2002). Organizational Behavior, Second Edition. Chicago. McGraw Hill Educational. Rosenberg, R. (2003, Summer). The eight rings of organizational influence: How to structure your organization for successful change. Journal for Quality & Participation, 26(2), Schaefer, Christopher. (1999, Spring). Allergies at work, and how to treat them (electronic version). LILIPOH, 5(18), 16. Retrieved January 24, 2004, from EBSCOhost.

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