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 organisational-related studies and strategic management. However, the application of this theory includes the areas of understanding concerning how the organisation can adapt to the environments and how they can cope with such uncertainties (Norberg and Cumming, 2013).
The theory also concerns the setting of ideas entrenched from natural systems, which elucidates how an organisation behaves in complex situations. The complexity theory has resulted from the efforts of authors and practitioners who discovered the hidden order behind the complex system and harnessed those complex systems 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 organisation which can be continually evolved through organisational 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 management is identifying that the change within the organisational systems is nonlinear (unstable). It is further based on the complex interactions and evolving relationships of the changing factors within a system (Morrison, 2012). Therefore, the managers in the organisation need to recognise the changing patterns and trends in the company 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 organisation according to the change strategy. However, emergent change is a bit less controlled and more chaotic, where the leaders in the organisation have to lead, direct make critical decisions of the business.
It is also stated by Burnes (2005) that emerging change is an essential 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 incremental changes and fine-tuning, which are emerging as a part of the enduring operations of the organisation.
Using Complexity Theory for understanding Emergent Change
How and Why
Complexity theory is utilised in the organisation to promote innovative thinking and rearrange the building blocks of the company to self-organise. 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, to effectively utilise the theory of complexity, the change agents need to give up rigid control on the complex systems in the organisation. 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 strategically implement the change in the organisation.
The theory of complexity accepts that it consists of routine predictable activities which should be subjected to planning, but it also recognises that a change that is to be implemented in the organisation can emerge different responses. In this essence, the change agents face certain contradictions from the employee perspective when planning a difference 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 is necessary to achieve change within the company. The change agents can utilise 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 benefit the change agents as they can get their hands on the positive and negative feedback given by the main actors of change and synchronise their change strategy according to the gained feedback (Norberg and Cumming, 2013). However, the complexity theory let the organisation self-organise, after which a change strategy would be developed for the benefit of the company.
This instead means that the change strategy can be evolved based on the feedback. In this context, the change agents and the company’s leaders are required to formulate a vision for the emergent change by effective leadership and promote strong values and beliefs and provide opportunities for healthy communication in the organisation.
A recent example indicating to the complexity theory and emergent change implementation can be observed from a reputable organisation Shell, which experienced an emergent change in the organisation 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 in a significantly healthier position 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 complexity theory enables the organisation and its people to self-organise, yielding the best solution for the emergent change. But it should be clear to the change agents that it is no panacea for all organisations (Burnes, 2005). The complexity theory assumes that people in such organisations are highly enthusiastic, innovative and intelligent and can work efficiently in teams.
Unfortunately, the fast-growing organisation with bright employees requires more management from the company if they are frequently shaped and reshaped. Therefore, the change agents should consider these factors to implement change in the organisation successfully.
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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 organisation. A change agent can be inside or outside of the organisation that helps the company transform the processes and systems to bring effectiveness in the organisation along with its development and improvement in the existing processes and procedures.
In addition, a change agent usually focuses on the organisational matters related to enhancing the effectiveness of the organisation 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 organisation. Therefore, the change agents are considered 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 specific skills of the change agents which are regarded as important for managing change in the organisation and performing their role (Burnes, 2004). It is evident that the change agents in the organisation often play the role of counsellor, teacher, or trainer; therefore, they require a diverse set of skills to manage change within the organisation.
Below is a brief discussion on the skills of change agents required to implement successful change in the organisation and reduce the negative impact of political behaviour in the organisation (Thomas and Hardy, 2011).
Maturity and Sensitivity
The change agents should demonstrate sensitivity to organisational members, but they also must be mature and sensitive enough towards their 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 organisation members and the change agents.
The skill of proximity refers to the psychological and physical closeness of the organisation members and the change agents. The greater the level of proximity between the members and the change agent, the more likely it is that the change agent would successfully implement change and reduce 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 organisation. It also facilitates empathy between members of the organisation 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 organisational 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 organisation, 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 organisation involves several attempts by members of the organisation 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 organisation. Therefore, the right amount of politics in the company can support the planned change in the organisation and also allows the change agents to plan effectively.
Politics cannot be ignored in the organisation when the company is undergoing a change process. Furthermore, the politics in companies always play a special role in organisational change. According to the study of Griffin and Moorhead (2011), it was noticed that the managers and change agents in the organisation spend 20% of their time negotiating political issues and resistance in the organisation. This figure can arise when a change in business happens. However, politics in the organisation 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), politics in the organisation and resistance to change can act as a barrier in managing the change process in the organisation and lower down the workforce’s performance. It is also argued by Burnes (2004) that uncertainties always serve as a hallmark in organisational change.
When the employees in the company feel unsure about their position in the company, it can raise politics in the organisation, which can manifest as a result of politicking (Berry, 2015). When the change is apparent in the organisation, employees are required to know the reasons for the change in the organisation. In this context, uncertainties are caused by a lack of communication which could amp politics in the company.
In addition, the politics in the organisation 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 organisation 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 could utilise 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), organisational 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 organisation 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 organisation from its current state to the desired state.
Organisation Development Techniques
There are some major organisational development techniques that should be employed by the managers and leaders in order to successfully manage and implement change in the organisation. 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 organisation 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 organisation 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 organisation, which requires careful examination of how the employees can react to change in the organisation in order to sustain a competitive advantage in the industry. In this stage, communication is highly important so that the employees in the organisation 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 organisation 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 organisation (Agboola and Salawu, 2011). In this phase, the change becomes real in the organisation as the employees working in the organisation struggle 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 stabilising 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 to their old ways of thinking as they have adopted before the change implementation.
In the light of Deichman and Stam (2015), organisational development techniques can be employed by the change agents and managers 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 organisational development technique matches the change situation in the organisation (Crawford and Nahmias, 2010).
For instance, if the organisation is facing problems such as anxiety, environmental changes and poor morale, then organisational 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 managers will utilise the survey feedback to develop a strategy that can handle the problems of the employees. Moreover, issues such as poor working relationships, poor understanding of the organisation’s objectives, and inappropriate leadership style can employ OD techniques such as team buildings in order to minimise 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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