Managing Planned Organizational Change Process

A planned change is a change planned by the organization; it does not happen by itself. It is affected by the organization with the purpose of achieving something that might otherwise by unattainable or attainable with great difficulty. Through planned change, an organization can achieve its goals rapidly. The basic reasons for planned change are:

  • To improve the means for satisfying economic needs of members
  • To increase profitability
  • To promote human work for human beings
  • To contribute to individual satisfaction and social well being

The planned organizational change process may comprise, basically the three following steps:

  1. Planning for change
  2. Assessing change forces
  3. Implementing the change

1. Planning for Change

The first step in the process of change is to identify the need for change and the area of changes as to whether it is a strategic change, process oriented change or employee oriented change. This need for change can be identified either through internal or external factors. Once this need is identified the following general steps can be taken:

  • Develop new goals and objectives. The manager must identify as to what new outcomes they wish to achieve. This may be modification of previous goals due to changed internal and external environment or it may be a new set of goals and objectives.
  • Select an agent of change. The next step is that the management must decide as to who will initiate and oversee this change. One of the existing managers may be assigned this duty or even sometimes specialists and consultants can brought in from outside to suggest the various methods to bring in the change and monitor the change process.
  • Diagnose the problem. The person who is appointed as the agent of the change will then gather all relevant data regarding the area of problem or the problem where the change is needed. This data should be critically analyzed to pinpoint the key issues. Then the solutions can be focused on those key issues.
  • Select Methodology. The next important step is to select a methodology for change; employee’s emotion must be taken into consideration when devising such methodology.
  • Develop a plan. After devising the methodology, the next step will be to put together a plan as to what is to be done. For example, if the management wants to change the promotion policy, it must decide as to what type of employees will be affected by it, whether to change the policy for all the departments at once or to try it on a few selected departments first.
  • Strategy for the implementation of the plan. In this stage, the management must decide on the ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of the plan. This includes the right time of putting the plan to work, how the plan will be communicated to the employees in order to have the least resistance and how the implementation will be monitored.

2. Assessing Change Forces

The planned change does not come automatically, rather there are many forces in individuals, groups and organization which resist such change. The change process will never be successful unless the cooperation of employees is ensured. Therefore, the management will have to create an environment in which change will be amicably accepted by people. If the management can overcome the resistance, change process will succeed.

In a group process, there are always some forces who favor the change and some forces that are against the change. Thus, an equilibrium is established is maintained. Kurt Lewin calls in the “field of forces”. Lewin assumes that in every situation there are both driving and restraining forces which influence any change that may occur.

  • Driving forces are those forces which affect a situation by pushing in a particular direction. These forces tend to initiate the change and keep it going.
  • Restraining forces act to restrain or decrease the driving forces.

Equilibrium is reached when sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces as shown in the following figure:

There may be three types of situations, as both driving and restraining forces are operating:

  1. If the driving forces far out weight the restraining forces, management can push driving forces and overpower restraining forces.
  2. If restraining forces are stronger than driving forces, management either gives up the change programme or it can pursue it by concentrating on driving forces and changing restraining forces into driving ones or immobilizing them.
  3. If driving and restraining forces are fairly equal, management can push up driving forces and at the same time can convert or immobilize restraining forces.

Thus, to make the people accept the changes, the management must push driving forces and convert or immobilize the restraining forces.

3. Implementing the Change

Once the management is able to establish favorable conditions, the right timing and right channels of communication have been established the plan will be put into action. It may be in the form of simple announcement or it may require briefing sessions or in house seminars so as to gain acceptance of all the members and specify those who are going to be directly affected by the change.

After the plan has been implemented there should be evaluation of the plan which comprises of comparing actual results to the objectives. Feedback will confirm if these goals are being met so that if there is any deviation between the goals and actual performance, corrective actions can be taken.

Organizational Change Process (Lewin’s 3 Stage Model)

Any organizational change whether introduced through a new structural design or new technology or new training programme, basically attempts make employees change their behavior. Unless the behavioral patterns of the members change the change will have a little impact on the effectiveness of the organization. Behavioral changes are not expected to be brought about overnight. These are the most difficult and marathon exercises.

A commonly accepted model for bringing about changes in people was suggested by KURT LEWIN in terms of three phase’s process:-

  1. Unfreezing
  2. Changing
  3. Refreezing

1. Unfreezing

Unfreezing means that old ideas and attitudes are set aside to give place to new ideas. It refers to making people aware that the present behavior is inappropriate, irrelevant, inadequate and hence unsuitable for changing demands of the present situation.

According to EDGAR SCHIEN the following four elements are necessary during this unfreezing phase:-

  • The physical removal of the individuals, being changed from their accustomed routines, sources of information and social relationships.
  • The undermining and destruction of social support.
  • Demeaning and humiliating experience to help individuals, being changed, to see their old attitudes or behavior as unworthy and think to be motivated to change.
  • The consistent linking of reward with willingness to change and of punishment with willingness to change.

Unfreezing thus involves discarding the orthodox and conventional methods and introducing dynamic behavior, most appropriate to the situation. People are made to accept new alternatives.

2. Changing

Unlike unfreezing changing is not uprooting of the old ideas, rather the old ideas are gradually replaced by the new ideas and practices. In changing phase new learning occurs. The necessary requirement is that various alternatives of behavior must be made available in order to fill the vacuum created by unfreezing phase. During the phase of changing, individuals learn to behave in new ways, the individuals are provided with alternatives out of which choose the best one.

KELMAN explains changing phase in terms of the following elements:-

  • Compliance: it occurs when individuals are forced to change either by reward or by punishment.
  • Internalization: it occurs when individuals are forced to encounter a situation and calls for new behavior.
  • Identification: it occurs when individuals recognize one among various models provided in the environment that is most suitable to their personality.

3. Refreezing

Refreezing is on the job practice. The old ideas are totally discarded and new ideas are totally accepted. Refreezing reinforced attitudes, skills and knowledge. He practices and experiments with the new method of behavior and sees that it effectively blends with his other behavioral attitudes.

FERSTER and SKINNER have in this connection introduced the main reinforcement schedules namely- Continuous and Intermittent reinforcements. Under continuous reinforcement individuals learn the new behavior within no time. And intermittent reinforcement on the other hand, consumes a long time but it is has the greatest advantage of ensuring a long lasting change.

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