Organisational Change Management
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Complexity Theory and Emergent Change
The complexity theory is explained by Morrison (2012) which accentuates the frequent interactions and feedback loops that can constantly change the systems. This theory has been widely used in the areas of organizational-related studies and strategic management. However, the application of this theory includes the areas of understanding concerning that how the organization can adapt to the environments and how they can cope with such uncertainties (Norberg and Cumming, 2013).
The theory also concerns with the setting of ideas entrenched from the understanding of natural systems which centres on the elucidation of how an organization behaves in complex situations. The theory of complexity has resulted from the efforts of authors and practitioners who discovered the hidden order behind the complex system and harness those complex systems in order to make the most of it.
In the light of Flood and Carson (2013), the main objective behind the complexity theory is to guide the managers on how to maintain a strong balance amid chaos and order, or between chance and planning process, in their organization which can be continually evolved through organizational strategy that is focused towards anticipation and response to the changing conditions and gathers new feedback.
The main focal point of the complexity theory and chaos in the area of management is the identification that the change within the organizational systems is nonlinear (unstable) and is further based on the complex interactions and evolving relationships of the changing factors within a system (Morrison, 2012). Therefore, it is important for the managers in the organization to recognize the changing patterns and trends in the company in order to adjust the strategy.
Emergent change is explicated by Anderson and Anderson (2010) as an assumption that can change a continuous, unpredictable, and open-ended process of aligning the organization according to the change strategy. However, emergent change is a bit less controlled and more chaotic where the leaders in the organization have to lead, direct make critical decisions of the business.
It is also stated by Burnes (2005) that emerging change is an important genre of change that is observed as an evolving system. It also tracks the changes which are found to be emergent in the essence of adaptations and experiments. This is also followed by the process of incremental changes and fine-tuning which are emerging as a part of the enduring operations of the organization.
Using Complexity Theory for understanding Emergent Change
How and Why
Complexity theory is utilized in the organization as an approach to promote innovative thinking and rearrange the building blocks of the company to self-organize. It is argued by Carnall and By (2007) that modern business entities get along in a nonlinear fashion tradition, with no continuation in the competitive events apart from those which are hindsight.
However, in order to effectively utilize the theory of complexity, the change agents need to give up rigid control on the complex systems in the organization. From these viewpoints, it can be observed from the theory of complexity that the change agents can easily understand this theory from its emergent properties which need to implement the change in the organization strategically.
The theory of complexity accepts that it consists of routine predictable activities which should be subjected to planning but it also recognizes that a change that is to be implemented in the organization can emerge different responses. In this essence, the change agents face certain contradictions from the employee perspective when they try to plan a change within the company (Dinh et al. 2014).
The change agents allow developing chaos because it is the only method through which they can find new orders and behaviours due to the change. According to Flood and Carson (2013), understanding the new orders are necessary to achieve the objective of change within the company. The change agents can utilize the positive and negative feedback of the employees for deriving an effective change strategy for the benefit of the company.
The use of complexity theory can be beneficial for the change agents as they can get their hands on the positive and negative feedback given by the main actors of change and synchronize their change strategy according to the gained feedback (Norberg and Cumming, 2013). However, the complexity theory let the organization self-organize after which a change strategy would be developed for the benefit of the company.
This rather means that the change strategy can be evolved on the basis of the feedback. In this context, the change agents and the leaders of the company are required to formulate a vision for the emergent change by effective leadership and promote strong values and beliefs and also provide opportunities for healthy communication in the organization.
A recent example indicating to the complexity theory and emergent change implementation can be observed from a reputable organization Shell, which experienced an emergent change in the organization in the wake of the oil reserves crisis which hammered the share price of the company for which the company had to transform their processes and structure for managing the chaos.
However, the change programme implemented in the company was successful as every employee adheres to the new processes and systems as implemented by the change agents. Shell is now dealing at a significantly healthier position as compared to the period when the transformation started and measured as a successful initiative to tackle the crisis. This made evident that the implementation of complexity theory can be subject to a successful transformation in the competitive scenario.
The theory of complexity enables the organization and its people to self-organize which can yield the best solution for the emergent change. But it should be clear to the change agents that it is no panacea for all organizations (Burnes, 2005). The theory of complexity assumes that people in such organizations are highly enthusiastic, innovative and intelligent and can work efficiently in teams.
Unfortunately, the fast-growing organization with bright employees requires more management from the company if they are frequently shaped and reshaped. Therefore, the change agents should take into consideration these factors in order to successfully implement change in the organization.
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Skills Change Agents Must Possess In Managing Political Behaviour in Change Process
According to Battilana and Casciaro (2012), change agents are those people who have the responsibility for planning and executing the change in the organization. A change agent can be inside or outside of the organization that helps the company in transforming the processes and systems to bring effectiveness in the organization along with its development and improvement in the existing processes and procedures.
In addition, a change agent usually focuses on the organizational matters which are related to enhancing the effectiveness of the organization and its development (Fullan, 2011). It also focuses on the changes in the technologies, tasks, and structures based on the group and interpersonal relationships in the organization. Therefore, the change agents are considered as guardians and formulators of the change situations in the company for which they require a unique set of traits and skills.
Skills of Change Agents
The skills of change agents have been identified by several researchers after an extensive review conducted on the literature. There are certain skills of the change agents which are regarded as important for managing change in the organization and perform their role (Burnes, 2004). It is evident that the change agents in the organization often play the role of counsellor, teacher, or trainer; therefore, they require a diverse set of skills in order to manage change within the organization.
Below is a brief discussion on the skills of change agents which are required to implement successful change in the organization and reduce the negative impact of political behaviour in the organization (Thomas and Hardy, 2011).
Maturity and Sensitivity
The change agents should not only demonstrate sensitivity to organizational members, but they also must be mature and sensitive enough towards their own motivations and visions.
This is an essential skill of the change agent because, through this skill, the change agent can understand the feeling of the main actors of the change. Empathy, therefore, leads to enriched communication and understanding between the organization members and the change agents.
The skill of proximity refers to the psychological and physical closeness of the organization members and the change agents. The greater level of proximity between the members and the change agent, the more likely it is that the change agent would be successful in implementing change and reducing political behaviour. Increasing the level of proximity makes it easier for the change agents to develop collaboration between the change agents and members of the organization. It also facilitates empathy between members of the organization and the change agent.
This is the most important skill of the change agent, which refers to the amount of psychological and physical efforts of the change agent which he is willing to exert in the process of managing change.
The skill of synergy of change agent is crucial to the role of the change agent as it positively reinforces the effects of change on the organizational members. Interestingly, it involves a variety of activities, resources, people and energies in the process of interacting with the efforts of change which mutually promotes success.
In managing change in the organization, the change agent should possess the skill of political awareness within the company with an understanding of employee resistance to change, coalition and conflict of interest.
Political Behaviour in Organisations
Political behaviour in the organization involves several attempts by members of the organization in order to influence the behaviour of others for the protection of self-interest and also safeguarding their own position, needs, and goals that are to be achieved (Quinn, 2010). With the explanation above, politics can be considered as both boon and bane for managing change in the organization. Therefore, the right amount of politics in the company can support the planned change in the organization and also allows the change agents to plan effectively.
Politics cannot be ignored in the organization when the company is undergoing a change process. Furthermore, the politics in companies always play a special role in organizational change. According to the study of Griffin and Moorhead (2011), it was noticed that the managers and change agents in the organization spend 20% of their time negotiating political issues and resistance in the organization. This figure can arise when a change in business happens. However, politics in the organization is taken on a negative side rather than considered as beneficial for the company.
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Using Change Agent Skills to Manage Negative Impact of Political Behaviour
How and Why
In the light of Battilana and Casciaro (2012) that politics in the organization and resistance to change can act as a barrier in managing the change process in the organization and also lower down the performance of the workforce. It is also argued by Burnes (2004) that uncertainties always serve as a hallmark in the process of organizational change.
When the employees in the company feel unsure about their position in the company, it can raise politics in the organization, which can manifest as a result of politicking (Berry, 2015). When the change is apparent in the organization, employees are required to know the reasons for the change in the organization. In this context, uncertainties are caused by a lack of communication which could amp politics in the company.
In addition, the politics in the organization has a propensity to influence the negative behaviour of the employees. On the other hand, resistance and politics can be employed in a positive manner in order to facilitate change in the company. However, the change agents cannot bring every member in the organization to support change, but the change agents have to be involved in the politics in order to successfully implement change.
A recent example of change management can be of the California University, which implemented a huge change in their IT systems which largely affected employees, satellite campuses, students and staff members. In order to ensure a smooth implementation of change, the IT department generated an automatic management system so that one person could upgrade the automatic change in their systems. For the smooth implementation, the school redefined the role of IT employees and explained who can utilize the system in their designated areas. This reflects that all employees in the University were on the same page.
Organisational Change and Development
It is highlighted by Deichmann and Stam (2015), organizational change is concerned with modifying and reviewing structures of the management and overall process of the business. It is also explained as the process in which a company undergoes changes with respect to its strategies, structure, technologies, the culture of the organisation and operational methods which affect change in the company (Jones, 2010).
However, the changes in the organization can be a continuous process but can occur for distinct time periods. It is generally comprised of twofold, which is usually observed from either unplanned or planned change. The unplanned change is rooted in the complexities in the business environment, which are discussed previously in patch 1, where planned change is explained as the measured actions of management in order to move the organization from its current state to the desired state.
Organisation Development Techniques
There are some major organizational development techniques that should be employed by the managers and leaders in order to successfully manage and implement change in the organization. The techniques are discussed as,
Survey Feedback- The technique of survey technique can be used by the managers in order to collect information about the change process through surveys for the purpose of making decisions (Crawford and Nahmias, 2010). A broad range of data can be collected with respect to working conditions, wages and salaries, employee attitude and working hours. In this context, the manager can collect data which is …(content removed – please contact us to access full version)
Using Organisational Development Techniques for Leading Change
How and Why
According to Lewin’s Change Model, change in the organization can be implemented on the basis of three phases which are known as unfreezing, change and freezing. The model of change, as proposed by Lewin, suggested that the change in the organization involves moving from one state to another state (Cummings and Worley, 2014).
The unfreezing state in the change process reflects that the people naturally resist change in the organization, which requires careful examination of how the employees can react to change in the organization in order to sustain a competitive advantage in the industry. In this stage, communication is highly important so that the employees in the organization can be informed about the imminent change and should also be communicated the reason and logic behind the change.
In the second phase, the actual change is implemented in the organization where the people began to move. This step is also referred to as transition state, which should be marked by the change implementation in the organization (Agboola and Salawu, 2011). In this phase, the change becomes real in the organization as the employees working in the organization struggles for the change.
During the process of change, people tend to learn new behaviours, ways of thinking and processes, which makes them more familiar with the change process. The last phase of the change process is named a refreezing phase which is referred to as solidifying and stabilizing change. Lewin stated it is the most important phase as it can be ensured from this phase that people working in the company do not revert back to their old ways of thinking as they have adopted prior to the change implementation.
In the light of Deichman and Stam (2015), organizational development techniques can be employed by the change agents and managers in the organization to successfully manage and implement change. The techniques which are mentioned above can be applied to different situations of change management. However, it is necessary to determine which organizational development technique matches the change situation in the organization (Crawford and Nahmias, 2010).
For instance, if the organization is facing problems such as anxiety, environmental changes and poor morale, then organizational development techniques such as survey feedback can be used to get insights from the employees of the company as to what kind of problems they are facing in the context of pressure, anxiety and environmental changes (Sørensen, Hasle and Pejtersen, 2011).
The survey feedback will be utilized by the managers in order to develop a strategy that can handle the problems of the employees. Moreover, issues such as poor working relationships, poor understanding of the organization’s objectives, and inappropriate leadership style can employ OD techniques such as team buildings in order to minimize the effects.
- Agboola, A.A. and Salawu, R.O., 2011. Managing deviant behaviour and resistance to change. International Journal of Business and Management, 6(1), p.235.
- Anderson, D. and Anderson, L.A., 2010. Beyond change management: How to achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership. John Wiley & Sons.
- Anderson, D., and Anderson, L. (2010). Beyond Change Management: How to achieve Breakthrough results through Conscious Change Leadership, Jossey-Bass. Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3
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