www.downloadslide.com Chapter Fifteen Organizational Change 423 SELF-ASSESSMENT 15.2: Are You Tolerant of Change? Some people eagerly seek out novelty and new experiences. Others are keen to maintain the status quo and predictability. No matter how much communication, involvement, and other change management strategies are applied, people in the latter category continue to resist because they have little tolerance of change. You can discover your level of tolerance of change by locating this self-assessment in Connect if it is assigned by your instructor. REDUCING THE RESTRAINING FORCES Earlier, we used the mattress metaphor to explain that increasing the driving forces alone will not bring about change because employees often push back harder to offset the opposing forces. Instead, change agents need to address each of the sources of resistance. Six of the main strategies are outlined in Exhibit 15.2. If feasible, communication, learning, employee involvement, and stress management should be attempted first. 32 However, negotiation and coercion are necessary for people who will clearly lose something from the change and in cases where the speed of change is critical. EXHIBIT 15.2 Strategies for Minimizing Resistance to Change STRATEGY EXAMPLE WHEN APPLIED PROBLEMS Communication Customer complaint letters are shown to employees. When employees don’t feel an urgency for change, don’t know how the change will affect them, or resist change due to a fear of the unknown. Time-consuming and potentially costly. Learning Employees learn how to work in teams as company adopts a team-based structure. When employees need to break old routines and adopt new role patterns. Time-consuming, potentially costly, and some employees might not be able to learn the new skills. Employee involvement Company forms a task force to recommend new customer service practices. When the change effort needs more employee commitment, some employees need to protect their self-worth, and/or employee ideas would improve decisions about the change strategy. Very time-consuming. Might lead to conflict and poor decisions if employees’ interests are incompatible with organizational needs. Stress management Employees attend sessions to discuss their worries about the change. When communication, training, and involvement do not sufficiently ease employee worries. Time-consuming and potentially expensive. Some methods may not reduce stress for all employees. Negotiation Employees agree to replace strict job categories with multiskilled job clusters in return for increased job security. When employees will clearly lose something of value from the change and would not otherwise support the new conditions. Also necessary when the company must change quickly. May be expensive, particularly if other employees want to negotiate their support. Also tends to produce compliance but not commitment to the change. Coercion Company president tells managers to “get on board” the change or leave. When other strategies are ineffective and the company needs to change quickly. Can lead to subtler forms of resistance, as well as long-term antagonism with the change agent. Sources: Adapted from J.P. Kotter and L.A. Schlesinger, “Choosing Strategies for Change,” Harvard Business Review 57 (1979): 106–14; P.R. Lawrence, “How to Deal with Resistance to Change,” Harvard Business Review (May/June 1954): 49–57.
www.downloadslide.com 424 Part Four Organizational Processes Communication Alan Mulally, who recently retired as Ford Motor Company CEO, has been hailed as a turnaround champion by transforming the company into a successful and competitive automaker. Mulally’s vision for change (“One Ford—One Team, One Plan, One Goal”) focused everyone on one brand (Ford) with a few models that have global platforms. One of the ways that Mulally brought about change was to continuously communicate the need for change and what the future state would look like. He held numerous town hall meetings, drumming the same message that everyone needs to cooperate as One Ford across divisions and focus more on customers than personal fiefdoms. Communication is the highest priority and first strategy required for any organizational change. According to one survey, communication (together with involvement) is considered the top strategy for engaging employees in the change process. 33 Communication improves the change process in at least two ways. 34 First, communication is necessary to generate the urgency for change that we described previously. Leaders motivate employees to support the change by candidly telling them about the external threats and opportunities that make change so important. On his first day as CEO of Zenefits, for example, David Sacks bluntly advised employees that the employee benefits software company could die unless it adheres to regulations. Whether they listen to change agents in town hall meetings or meet directly with disgruntled customers, employees become energized to change when they understand and visualize those external forces. The second way that communication minimizes resistance to change is by illuminating the future and thereby reducing fear of the unknown. The more leaders communicate details about the vision as well as milestones already achieved, the more easily employees can understand their own roles in that future. “No. 1 is to always communicate, communicate, communicate,” advises Randall Dearth, CEO of the purification technology company Calgon Carbon Corporation. “If you’re bringing in change, you need to be able to make a very compelling case of what change looks like and why change is necessary.” 35 Learning Learning is an important process in most organizational change initiatives because employees need new knowledge and skills to fit the organization’s evolving requirements. Learning not only helps employees perform better following the change; it also increases their readiness for change by strengthening their belief about working successfully in the new situation (called change self-efficacy). And when employees develop stronger change self-efficacy, they develop a stronger acceptance of and commitment to the change. 36 Employee Involvement Employee involvement is almost essential in the change process, although a low level of involvement may be necessary when the change must occur quickly or employee interests are highly incompatible with the organization’s needs. In the chapter on decision making (Chapter 7) we described several potential benefits of employee involvement, all of which are relevant to organizational change. Employees who participate in decisions about a change tend to feel more personal responsibility for its successful implementation, rather than being disinterested agents of someone else’s decisions. 37 This sense of ownership also minimizes the not-inventedhere syndrome and fear of the unknown. Furthermore, the work environment is so complex that determining the best direction of the change effort requires ideas and knowledge of many employees. Employee involvement is such an important component of organizational change that special initiatives have been developed to allow participation in large groups. These large-scale change interventions are described later in the chapter. Stress Management Organizational change is a stressful experience for many people because it threatens self-esteem and creates uncertainty about the future. 38