This paper looks into some common mistakes done in the change processes and an alternative solution to these mistakes. The paper will present Lewin’s change model and Connor’s stages of positive response to changes. It will describe some tips how to handle when the companies employees don’t want a change, what you should do as the change manager.
Changes is something that never stops. Companies needs to adapt to how the market changes. Everyone will or have already experienced some sort of changes in their working place (Weick & Quinn, 1999). Change management is something every company should understand and embrace, because change management is the process of renewing the direction of the company, the structure and serve the needs of the customers. A company should have a clear goal of where they want to be in the future and understand how to get there. This means that the changes in an organization cannot be separated from the business strategy. (Todnem, 2005)
Change management have become an important skill to have, to be able to follow the trends, and are one of the primary task for the management today. In many companies are the need of change unpredictable and tends to be a reactive process to an organisational crisis to fit into the market. Around 70 % of all changes programs, before 2005, are a failure, and the high rates of failure is suggested to be a result of no use of proper frameworks and change management. (Todnem, 2005)
A company needs to use a framework and understand change management to be able to have a successful change program within a business. This paper will look into change management framework and process with use of a change process case from a Norwegian company.
- Literature Review
Because of the highly changing demands from the market must all business be able to adapt to the market. Changes is something that never starts or stops, but are a continuing process within the organisation (Weick & Quinn, 1999). This makes change management an important skill, but many managers obviously lacks this skill or knowledge about frameworks regarding change. The change processes tends to be a reaction to a changes forced on the by the market, which results in a 70 % rate of failure in change programs initiated. (Todnem, 2005)
This high rate of failure leads to the questions, where did they go wrong? Why did the attempt to implement new promising technology or processes meet a resistance to change? If the change process is a reaction to a crisis, was the affected employees informed about the reason for change? In many situations are the affected employees left in the dark when it comes to the reason for change. The managers authorising change many times does not inform the employees of the reason to change and the impact of the change before they starts the change process. This may result in a heavy resistance to change within the organisation. It is not only a problem with the communication about the reasons and impact of the change. Most failures in introduction of new technology is a result of lack of involving affected employees in the change process combined with poor communication in the beginning of the change process. (Levasseur, 2001)
Some leader’s believes that change is something a person with authority can order a person without authority to do. This is one of the attitudes that leads to situations just mentioned and a failed change process (Weick & Quinn, 1999). It will always be some resistance to change, but the clue is to minimize the resistance (Levasseur, 2001). Connor argues that it is five steps to satisfaction in a change process. It is normally possible to identify steps in a change process to Connor’s stages of positive response to change. A change process often starts with a small optimism that they will succeed. The change manager starts the process in believe that everything will go as planned and not always sees the full picture in the start. A bit out in the process will normally the pessimism arise. The change process will met resistance and doubt in this change process. Here is where the change managers need to know how to handle a change process to be able to climb over the peak of pessimism. The change manager need to know how to minimize resistance to gain a small hope. The next step is realism and hope, where the process starts to get support from the organisation and sees the light in the end of the tunnel. The point is now to prove this is possible and gain confidence in this project. Confidence is gained will also the affected employees see the goal of this change process. Then in the end, completion and satisfaction. Now is the goal reached and the change manager has conquered the pessimism. The only problem is how the change manager shall be able to do this? (Luftman, 2009)
Figure 1 – Conner’s stages to positive response to change (Luftman, 2009)
To draw upon an example, we look into two different approaches to open sea navigation, comparing the European and the Trukese. The European navigator created a plan and followed every step of that plan to reach their goal. In a case of an obstacle would the European navigator then alter the plan and then act according to the new plan. The Trukese navigator has an objective, a goal to reach instead of a plan to follow. The Trukese navigator would act after the arisen conditions. The Trukese would have used the information gained during the voyage like weather, wind, tide etc. to navigate and act. He/she would do anything necessary to reach the goal. The Trukese way is how many organisations act today, by reacting on the how the situation changes to reach their objective. Many thinks about change management as the European navigator does it, they believe they need an exact plan to complete a change process. But how should they lead the change process within an organisation? (Orlikowski & Hofman, 1997)
The information about the change process is based on experience in the company during the changes and information gained from key persons in the change process. Often an attempt to change has been tried before, but the result has been failure. Some of the mistakes are poor communication and change management. This company wanted to change and they gave the job to a more experienced manager to handle the change this time. To be able to succeed in this change management process started the manager to tempt and motivate users and top-management for changes. Also the consequences of not changing were presented to make the employees and management to understand the situation. The manager of this change process also included the users in the development of the new tool and the change process. The resistance to change was reduces by including the users into the change process and managed to reduce the doubt and climb over the peak of pessimism to gain a hope.
The change process must be well planned in regards of which products to be introduces first and which department should have the new products first. This way of thinking is much like the European navigator, but the managers also worked in an agile environment. This gave the project a change of adapting to changing during the process even with a plan. This plan than was more a guidance than a solution to the change process. By following these planed deadlines could the change manager display the result and prove that this new tool is a valid solution. The change project gained confidence by giving a proof that the new technology did what it promised through live demonstrations. This made the change project a success and gained a satisfaction from the users, and new routines could be put in place.
A change manager must rely on some tools to have a successful change process. Levasseur argues that one his most powerful tool in his toolbox is Lewin’s three-step change model. The first step in Lewin’s model is to unfreeze the current situation, only then can the changes be done. When the changes are done and made to be, the last step is to re-freeze the changes into a new routine. (Levasseur, 2001)
Figure 2 – Lewin’s Change Management Model (Luftman, 2009)
The first step in Lewin’s model is to unfreeze the current situation. This step is about overcoming the resistance and to motivate for change. This can be done in multiple ways, like minimizing the resistance by either showing them that the change is essential to avoid a crisis or tempting the affected people to like the changes. It is also possible to combine these methods to motivate for change and gain trust. (Kritsonis, 2005) A leader needs to inform the employees of the reason of change and make them understand. By telling them why we change and giving them benefits of change can reduce the resistance. The change manager needs proper communication between all parties in a change process to make it happen. Proper top-down communication is not always enough. People often support what the help to build, and by including them in the change process and let them help in shaping the changes can reduce the resistance. No communication and participation is one of main reason for failure in change management. Including and communicate with the affected individuals can lower the barriers for change and help a change manager getting over the peak in Connor’s stages to positive response to changes in Figure 1. (Levasseur, 2001)
In some situations are leaders who communicates the reasons for change and integrate the affected persons more attractive than leaders who commands the changes. (Weick & Quinn, 1999)
The second step in Lewin’s model is about developing the new system and integrate the changes. It is essential to involve the people in the development and continue the communication in this step to overcome the resistance to change. The manager will more likely achieve success by enable the process through collaboration and team building than using command and control. (Levasseur, 2001) To have a successful change should the managers tempt the employees to agree that the changes are necessary and will help them too and work together to reach a common goal. Also by gaining support from well-respected and powerful leaders can help in achieving the goal. (Kritsonis, 2005) It is important to have some well-defined objectives to share with the team, so all employees can have a common goal in the change process. The objectives can be used as proofs that this change is possible if it exist doubt in the project to gain hope and hopefully confidence and satisfaction. (Levasseur, 2001)
The third step is refreezing. This step takes place after the changes are done in order to make it last. The change would most likely be forgotten and employees will go back to the same old if this step is not taken (Kritsonis, 2005). In this step is where all the tests, use, institutionalisation and enhancement of the changes are done. Refreezing takes time and the change enablers need to assist and support the affected people until the changes are the new habit. (Levasseur, 2001)
Since 70 % of all change programs fails, is it important that the change managers knows about the framework, but still are able to work agile. Todnem argues that the main reason for failure is lack of frameworks to implement change and manage it correctly. (Todnem, 2005)
The high rate of failure does not give much hope for having a successful change process, but the reason for this high rate is lack of knowledge about frameworks for change management. Managers and change enabler should know about some different change models to complete a successful change process (Todnem, 2005). To overcome the second step, doubt, in Connor’s stages, is it essential to start the first step of Lewin’s change model, unfreezing. In the unfreezing step is it essential to inform the affected employees about the reason for change. An informed employee is resisting less than one kept in the dark. Also by motivating the employees by giving them an advantage of the changes will more likely make them support the changes. Including the affected employees in the change process and let them help shaping it will lower the resistance and increase hope for the project (Levasseur, 2001). A leader with god communication and which integrates their employees in a change process is often more attractive (Weick & Quinn, 1999). By using communication, and integration of affected employees, can the managers minimize the resistance and hopefully gain a hope over time in the change process on Connor’s stages. (Levasseur, 2001)
To do the actual change is the second step in Lewin’s model. It is important to continue the communication and still integrate employees into the change process to have a successful change. The manager has a greater chance of reducing resistance and pessimism if he/she enables collaboration and teambuilding rather than commanding the changes in this phase (Levasseur, 2001). The managers can start to climb down from the hill of pessimism with hope against confidence in Connor’s stages, by persuading the employees into believing in the project and gain support from respected persons in the company. And by having clear objectives can both change enablers and affected employees work against the same goals, and the top management will have proofs that this is working whenever a milestone appear. (Kritsonis, 2005) (Levasseur, 2001)
The third step of Lewin’s model is about gaining confidence and satisfaction on Connor’s stages. In step is essential to make the changes “stick”, if this step is not done will most likely the changes be forgotten and undone again (Kritsonis, 2005). This is the step where the change enablers need to support and assist the affected employees to complete a successful change. All tests, usage, measurements, proofs will be given at this step to assure the changes will be a success. The refreezing step may take time and the change enabler needs to stay behind until satisfaction is reached and the changes are the new habit. (Levasseur, 2001)
Since changes in some companies are more rapid is it not always possible to able to have a strict plan. This means that a change manager also needs to think a bit like the Trukese navigator in the example. The change manager needs to be agile and work in an agile way too. By using the Lewin’s change model as a guiding plan, but also be able to change after the environment, gives the change manager an easier way to reach the goal. Being flexible lets the team that implement the changes have a greater chance of reaching a goal that the users want rather than what they thought they wanted in the start (Orlikowski & Hofman, 1997).
A fail rate of around 70 % off all change programs is a high number, but the main reason for this is lack of knowledge within change frameworks. A manager needs to understand frameworks to have a successful change process. Common mistakes already happens before the changes are starting. Many managers believes that he/she can command an employee to change. Most common mistakes are lack of proper communication and integration of affected employees. A manager can learn the basic steps to increase the odds with use of a framework like Lewin’s change model. A change manager needs to be open about the changes and let the affected employees help shaping the changes to reduce the resistance. In some situations are leaders who communicates the reasons for change and integrate the affected persons are more attractive than leaders who command a change.
It is essential to keep the good communication and collaboration during the changes to keep the pessimism as low as possible. Change enablers must also support and assist after the changes are done with god communication and collaboration to make the changes “stick”.
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