Comprehensive Learning Assessment
Organizational change management is one of the most difficult processes in any organization. Change is inevitable, and every transition affects all stakeholders in a firm no matter how small the change may be. Finding strategies to effectively manage change processes can be one of the ways to foster change initiatives and the support for change by organizational members. The most common challenge to the change process is resistance, which can stem from multiple directions including fellow staffers, senior-most management, and consumers. It is therefore important to approach the subject of change with caution regardless of what the expected outcome is and to realize the benefits associated with the change. For the benefits of the change to be realized, effective change management, which can only come with effective change managers, is mandatory. I have performed well in change management practices in the past. However, I feel that there are areas in which I could still improve to realize even better outcomes in change management.
One of the change initiatives in which I have been involved in the past entailed a shift from a traditional Google Sheets-based inventory management process to a web-hosted enterprise resource management system and training employees on how to use the system. My main objective as the change manager was to create an awareness of the need for change among the staff and potential users of the new system; monitor the development of the new system, and ensure a smooth transition from the existing system to the new one. I managed to carry out the responsibilities associated with this change process effectively and realize the planned objectives. I could therefore award myself a 4-star rating in change management and taking actions to sustain change. These actions were pegged on various practices, and I believe my strengths enabled me to realize these objectives.
One of the areas I believe I did particularly well in is communication. According to Hasanaj and Manxhari (2017), communication is an essential aspect of the change management process. Identifying needs, communicating these needs to the staff, and even monitoring progress in the change process, all require consistent information flow. The information that is passed across has to be purposeful, clear, and effective to ensure that all the staff and other stakeholders are aligned with the change process. Higgins and Bourne (2018), also suggest that communication has to be both horizontal and vertical to ensure that directions are given appropriately and that knowledge sharing and implementation is across functions. Prior to initiating the change, communications were sent to all involved parties regarding the need for change, particularly the shortcomings of the existing inventory management processes and the potential benefits of the proposed methods. Additionally, during the beginning steps of the change process, communication detailing the change roadmap, key activities, and evaluation plans for the new system was sent out to all stakeholders. This communication was aimed at having all the stakeholders aligned with regards to the progress, and also to generally push out information to the workforce. It was also aimed at obtaining feedback from employees and other stakeholders that would have visibility of the system at all times.
Another aspect that I think I performed well in was providing support to those affected by the change. Abbas and Asghar (2010) posit that successful change can only be realized through support to those directly affected by the change in processes, such as feedback collection, personal counseling regarding change initiation and progress, and training. Successful change processes are usually about people and relationships more than they are about processes and things. In this regard, I made significant efforts to ensure that the users of the new system were provided with information pertaining to the change in a timely manner. I continuously collected feedback regarding their perspectives about the change process and helped them make sense of the challenging aspects where necessary. Moreover, I gave multiple opportunities during weekly meetings and during random walk-in meetings for the employees to ask for guidance in areas they have limited understanding and to come for personal counseling regarding the change process.
incorporating the corporate culture into the change process was another area that enabled me to drive the change to a logical conclusion. The corporate culture affects the change process by virtue of its impacts on employee behavior (Sartori et al., 2018). Indeed, the corporate culture and the intended change have to align to foster change effectively (Palmer et al., 2017). Accordingly, I depended extensively on the corporate culture, particularly on aspects such as interpersonal relations, respect for individual autonomy, and innovativeness to communicate the need for change and the change process in general. By fitting the change process into the corporate culture, the affected individuals did not feel pushed to practice something they had not been used to before. Moreover, the company had developed a culture of employee engagement and recognition, and I took advantage of culture by allowing the users of the new system to own the project from the beginning. In this way, I was able to earn employee loyalty and commitment to the project throughout its entire lifecycle. This commitment is what drove the project to a conclusion as the employees were more willing to give their best in the development and evaluation phases.
While I mostly did well in the areas that are considered crucial to effective change management, I feel that there are areas in which I could have done better as a change agent. One of these areas was anxiety management. I believe that from the beginning of the project, I was a bit worried about the probable outcomes. For instance, I was concerned about the effectiveness of the developer and always felt like they would eventually miss out on one of the elements of our operations, particularly because our operations processes are quite complex, and I felt that no outsider would learn them in the relatively short time in which the change occurred. Furthermore, I had a previous experience whereby the developers accepted the work and wasted a lot of time upfront only for them to realize later that they could not handle the project, an outcome that resulted in prolonged completion duration and eventually downtime on our work processes. In spite of the high anxiety levels at the beginning, I am glad that I did not eventually subject my team to either of the two outcomes discussed by Jalagat (2016), namely being overly defensive for self-protection and attacking any perceived threats as they would have hindered the progress of change.
When working with others, I have also had the opportunity to evaluate their change management practice. I worked under the leadership of a different change manager on a project, which involved the development of human resource management systems that would take into consideration all employee information. The areas in which the change manager performed exceptionally were in work planning. The plans for change were meticulous, clearly stated with roles assigned to competent individuals and the roadmap for the change process was clear and the change seemed potentially strong enough. Additionally, the change manager was introducing a system with which she had worked before, and which she felt was effective towards managing employee data. For this reason, she was confident not only in the effectiveness of the project but also in the capability of the available systems to handle the project. Unlike my scenario, which is characterized by negative experiences with a similar system, she was working with something she was familiar with and hence the confidence. She also sought the management commitment in writing, clearly indicating that the management support would be beneficial towards effective change management following the argument by Stouten, Rousseau, and De Cremer (2018) that the management support gives the impression that the organization is working towards common objectives. The employees’ roles were defined, and each employee steered towards providing the information that would be included in the database.
Another area that was handled perfectly was the conflict management process. According to Jalagat (2016), conflicts are inevitable in any social environment, especially where there is imminent change. In this particular change, various conflicts emerged, particularly during the data collection process, whereby the person felt they had no reason to give out their personal details when they did not understand why they were doing so. The conflicts often disrupted the schedules, making it difficult to attain the intended objectives within the set timelines. The change manager initiated a conflict resolution process that involved information distribution to individuals and understanding the conflict from the two perspectives of those involved to address these conflicts. Those involved would then be directed, under conditions of complete information, to continue with the data collection process. In this way, the manager not only ensured that information was spread to other employees through word-of-mouth interactions with their colleagues but also developed other change agents throughout the organization. In this way, she earned the support of many and was able to progress with the change to completion.
While the planning process for the transition from the old paper-based data management systems was done effectively, I felt that the communication was somewhat unclear. For instance, at no time were the employees informed of the need for change and the organizational plan to initiate change. This lack of information resulted in a lot of confusion because the personnel was expected to provide information yet they did not understand the reason or the benefits of giving the information they were being requested for. Therefore, the quality of work and the duration of work were negatively affected.
In the case of Conor, a European plan manager, which is described by Palmer et al. (2017), the subject intended to improve operations based on lean and six sigma approaches to leadership. However, he had previously been detached from the general operations, mostly using the supervisors to achieve his goals. Even in the intended change, he would have used the supervisors to implement the change while he monitored progress from a distance. He however realized that the employees were skeptical about the possibility of success of the intended change. Conor, therefore, decided to use a different approach to leadership in order to achieve the intended objectives. By being close to the employees, listening to them, and sharing his own ideas, Conor created a sense of openness even among the employees, pushing them to tell him their work issues and where they needed assistance. In this way, they realized effective change outcomes.
From Conor’s case, I can say that the democratic leadership style corresponds most to my approach to leadership. I believe in the principle that only those who work directly in a system understand that system effectively and can be in a position to rectify any issues in the system if necessary. Information on the effectiveness of operational processes and equipment has to come first from those who use those systems and equipment. As such, I am more likely to be on the floor, actually listening to staff issues and addressing them as they arise, than to be in the office waiting for reports. I enjoy being aware of the needs of the people I work with and striving to ensure those needs are met. I would therefore that the style adopted by Conor during the change process resonates better with me and will be instrumental in my future endeavors as I will try to align with operational processes, challenges, and needs as I have done before.
One of my areas of strength, and which has enabled me to manage change effectively over the years, is the ability to handle unanticipated outcomes. My strategy is usually focused on finding the solution to the problems that arise from those outcomes without blames. My first step is normally to establish the magnitude of the damage done by the unanticipated outcome and its severity/risk, which requires a lot of communication, and I apply effective listening skills, which include empathy, as discussed by Sheikh (2013). From there, I determine the required change and then analyze the gap between the expected outcome and the actual outcome received. From there, I explore the available options for rectifying the situation with the support of other team members and then evaluate the options based on various factors, such as the execution timelines, required resources, and available support structures. I then choose the path that has the shortest execution timelines, requires the fewest resources, and has sufficient support structures and implement that path towards the initially intended objective.
Given the change management environment, one idea that I think will positively impact my change management effectiveness is that of networking. Through the selected case, the characteristics of effective change management, and an understanding of my personal characteristics, I believe that practicing networking more ardently will help build my leadership skills effectively, particularly in change management. Additionally, am an introvert and it can be difficult at times to fill comfortable in the company of others. As such, I often tend to feel pressured when I have to be consistently working hand in hand with others continuously. I will therefore adopt networking and focus on building relationships with others. I would also add mentorship to the process of initiating and sustaining change. The most common question is what happens when the change agent leaves an organization. To eliminate this question from the change recipients’ minds, having someone as a mentee of the change process would help bring together the perspectives of all the change participants as they consider the change to be sustainable.
Change management is an essential process in any organization since change is inevitable. Understanding the transition process and coming up with strategies to communicate, initiate, implement, and monitor change initiatives is a requirement of organizations that are willing to ensure their change processes yield fruit. A self-assessment has shown that I have performed well in various areas of change management such as communication to the affected staff and change monitoring. On the other hand, I still have an issue dealing with anxiety as it can often result in pessimism about the change process.
Abbas, W., & Asghar, I. (2010). The role of leadership in organizational change: Relating the successful organizational change to visionary and innovative leadership. Master in Logistics and Innovation Management. Retrieved from www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:326289/fulltext01
Hasanaj, R., & Manxhari, M. (2017). Importance of communication during change: A case of the municipality of Vlora. European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, 2(1), 15-19. Retrieved from journals.euser.org/files/articles/ejms_jan_apr_17_nr_1/Rezarta.pdf
Higgins, D., & Bourne, P.A. (2018). Implementing change in an organization: A general overview. Scholarly Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 7-18. Retrieved from lupinepublishers.com/psychology-behavioral-science-journal/pdf/SJPBS.MS.ID.000102.pdf
Jalagat, R. (2016). The impact of change and change management in achieving corporate goals and objectives: Organizational perspective. International Journal of Science and Research, 5(11), 1233-1239. Retrieved from www.researchgate.net/publication/310828676_The_Impact_of_Change_and_Change_Management_in_Achieving_Corporate_Goals_and_Objectives_Organizational_Perspective
Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Buchanan, D.A. (2017). Managing organizational change: A multiple perspectives approach, 3rd Ed. McGraw Hill Education.
Sartori, R., Costantini, A., Ceschi, A., & Tommasi, F. (2018). How do you manage change in organizations? Training, development, innovation, and their relationships. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00313/full
Sheikh, M. (2013). The role of communication in change management: A case study on the merger of Boreda and Varderingsdata. The University of Gothenburg, Masters’ Thesis. Retrieved from gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/33908/1/gupea_2077_33908_1.pdf
Stouten, J., Rousseau, D.M., & De Cremer, D. (2018). Successful organizational change: Integrating the management practice and scholarly literature. Academy of Management Annals, 12(2), 752-788. Retrieved from www.cebma.org/wp-content/uploads/Stouten-et-al-2018.pdf