Challenges Facing Managers in Change Process
There are change management models and research still relevant for the 21st Century. The problem however is not with their relevance or their worth, the problem and challenge facing organizational leaders, organizational development experts and researchers relate to the speed and complexity of change required today. (Mildred Golden Pryor, Sonia Taneja, John Humphreys, Donna Anderson, Liza Singleton – Challenges facing change management 2008).
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Today, change is constant and organization leaders who anticipate change rapidly and responsibly are successful. However, organizational leaders who anticipate change and invent the future are even more successful because those who invent the game are the leaders in their industry, however there are other organizations that are just followers and adapt to change while there are those that do not even survive. According to MTD Training of 2010, in business, change means moving from one way of doing things to another way of doing them.
Not every change has to be managed; every organization will need to make a decision about whether or not to employ change management strategies based, in part on how much risk would be associated with not doing so. Change management is an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state. It is to make something different. You can cause something to change, or you can bring change upon yourself. (Mildred et al, 2008) The process of change impacts on the whole organization and on all individuals working there.
Change processes majorly influence: what the organization does, the way the organization does things, the way all business units of the organization communicate and share information, (Problems in Managing Change, Oliver Recklies). This is the manager’s challenge to make things work. Human resource management has an important role in any change process. Change always needs people: for developing objectives, for identifying the need for change, for developing solutions and for implementing these solutions.
Technology can support and influence change, but it can never replace people. Still people are to operate the machines, make and implement decisions, not technology or machines. Another challenge of managing change is that there is no chance to ‘undo’ mistakes once they were made. If you allocate resources in an inefficient way, you still have the option to provide additional resources in order to achieve your objective, but there might be wasted resources due to misallocation.
If you once failed to make your employees participate in the change process, motivate them into accepting the changes, you will hardly be able to motivate them again. The figure below shows clearly the complexity and scope of change management: Managing change is a challenge that involves coordinating different areas in the organization and the Human Resource has to help employees own the changes alongside quality management, project management, corporate development and usually with a lot to do in Information Technology to have a new, changed organization.
Planning and managing change, both cultural and technological, is one of the most challenging elements of a manager’s job (Prosci, Neutralizing change threats in the New Year, 2008). Despite these challenges, managers need to be aware that organizations change in a number of dimensions that often relate to one another and can take any direction in the organization. These dimensions include •Extent of planning: Although experts differ about how much change can be planned, managers still need to take steps to set up conditions that permit and even encourage change to occur. Degree of change: Changes may be incremental (relatively small, involving fine?tuning processes and behaviors within just one system or level of the organization) or quantum (significant change altering how a company operates). •Degree of learning: This dimension relates to the degree to which organizational members are actively involved in learning how to plan and implement change while helping solve an existing problem. •Target of change: Organizational change programs can vary with respect to the hierarchical level or functional area of which the change is targeted.
Some changes are designed to influence top management and assist them in becoming stronger leaders. Other change programs may involve basic learning, such as customer services techniques for lower level employees. •Organization’s structure: If it is very stiff and bureaucratic, there may be a need for emphasis on policies, procedures, and rules. Some organizations are very stiff and bureaucratic and may need to “loosen up. ” Other organizations may suffer from lack of organization structure. They may need to emphasize policies, procedures, and rules.
Regardless of which forces that cause organizations to see the need for change, organizational leaders, including managers, continue to struggle to maintain or increase their company’ competitive advantage as rapid changes occur from both the external and internal environments. One of the challenges managers face is successfully implementing initiatives that will lead to change and reactions to the fairness of the change implementation, specifically whether the implementation process was handled fairly or not. Cobb et al – 1995) A 2007 benchmarking study “Best Practices in Change Management” identified poor support and alignment with middle management as one of the big challenges in managing change. This followed other factors considered as obstacles to change including; ineffective sponsorship and resistance from employees. Managers may resist change and this implies not effectively supporting their employees through change. One of the main culprits for this obstacle is the manager dilemma.
The manager dilemma is a result of two forces at work on managers and supervisors during times of organizational change. First, managers and supervisors are themselves being impacted by the change and they must embrace, internalize and adopt the change to their own work. Second, they must support their employees during the change as well, helping them to embrace and adopt the new solution. During changes in the organization, the managers are often wearing both the “agent of change” hat and the “recipient of change” hat.
Add to these challenges the fact that middle and front-line managers are critical to sustaining the day-to-day operations of the business and often feel overloaded with that task alone.This could lead to unprofessional management of stakeholders affected by change. Project teams, support functions (like communication, Human Resource, training and development groups) and senior leaders often only wear the “agent of change” hat, while front-line employees and those who ultimately adopt the change wear only the “recipient of change” hat.
Managers and supervisors wear both hats and the result being that they have the most difficult role in times of change. Unfortunately, their duel role is often overlooked and neglected to the detriment of project and employee well-being. Workload and speed of change process becomes too big for the manager. Resistance to change is a very big challenge to managers, this is due to reasons like the proposed change ppearing to violate values/ethics or culture generally, the inertia may already exist in the system and change is not easily blended in, the proposed changes may represent uncertainty in different dimensions, there may also be a misunderstanding of proposed changes, fear of loss usually on the side of stake holders, threat of security of organizational members or employees in terms of their jobs, also when personal antagonism exists among group members, when there is lack of confidence in the change sponsor(s) or the change agent(s), lack of participation among team members, failure to see the need for change, when timing is very poor, when there is a disruption of social relationships, at times the proposed change could also upset power balances, resistance may also be due to informal organizational pressure against the change, sometimes a belief that the change is a form of criticism about the way things have been done could cause resistance and sometimes there is a perception that benefits may result if there is a strong resistance to change. Resistance may be a very big challenge that the manager alone may not be able to handle alone.
Sometimes managers delegate the whole responsibility to manage the change to employees and only expect to get progress reports from them; this usually may become a very big challenge if things do not go as planned or if the employee does not understand the whole change. The employee does not actually have a responsibility to manage change, the employee’s responsibility is to do their best, which is different for every person and depends on a wide variety of factors like health, maturity, stability, experience, personality, motivation, etc. Responsibility for managing change is with management and executives of the organization and they must manage the change in a way that employees can cope with it.
The manager has a responsibility to facilitate and enable change, and all that is implied within that statement, especially to understand the situation from an objective standpoint which may mean to ‘step back’, and be non-judgemental, and then to help people understand reasons, aims, and ways of responding positively according to employees’ own situations and capabilities. Increasingly the manager’s role is to interpret, communicate and enable and not to instruct and impose, which nobody really responds to well. Some managers are misunderstood when they introduce change; this is also a challenge that might lead to conflict with employees. Using expressions like mindset change’, and ‘changing people’s mindsets’ or ‘changing attitudes’, often indicates a tendency towards imposed or enforced change and it implies strongly that the organization believes that its people currently have the ‘wrong’ mindset, which is never the case. If people are not approaching their tasks or the organization effectively, then the organization has the wrong mindset, not the people. Change such as new structures, policies, targets, acquisitions, disposals, re-locations, etc. , all create new systems and environments, which need to be explained to people as early as possible, so that people’s involvement in validating and refining the changes themselves can be obtained.
Management may lack the necessary training, empathy and facilitative capability which are priority areas since managers are crucial to the change process, it becomes a bigger challenge if managers merely convey and implement policies from above without knowing much about them and because people and teams need to be empowered to find their own solutions and responses, with facilitation and support from managers, and tolerance and compassion from the leaders and executives, management and leadership style and behaviour are more important than clever process and policy. Employees need to be able to trust the organization and it becomes the manager’s challenge to ensure there is trust between. Managers must agree and work with these ideas, or change is likely to be very painful, and the best people might be lost in the process. In some situations, when people are confronted with the need or opportunity to change, especially when it’s ‘enforced’, as they may see it, by the organization, they can become emotional and so can the managers who try to manage the change.
This challenge may require diffusing the emotional feelings, taking a step back and encouraging objectivity, to enable sensible and constructive dialogue. This is the managers’ and trainers’ challenge to find a solution with help of analogies to assist themselves and other staff to look at change in a more detached way. Just as the state of ‘unconscious incompetence’, needs to be developed into ‘conscious competence’ to provide a basis for training, so is a person’s subjective emotion need to be developed into objectivity before beginning to help them handle change. Some managers are not patience and tolerant enough when managing change and yet it is a challenge where the manager is required to help people in these situations to see things differently, bit by bit.
This sort of gradual staged change can be found everywhere in the living world. Strong resistance to change is often rooted in deeply conditioned or historically reinforced feelings that require a lot of patience and tolerance towards the people to whom change is being introduced to, the managers ought to have these qualities if they are to manage the change process effectively. It was discovered that people who easily welcome change are not generally the best at being able to work reliably, dependably and follow processes. The reliability/dependability capabilities are directly opposite character traits to mobility or adaptability capabilities.
Managers may face the challenge of such people to ensure they can be reliable. Certain industries and disciplines have a high concentration of staff who need a strong reliability/dependability personality profile, for example, health services and nursing, administration, public sector and government departments, utilities and services; these sectors will tend to have many staff with character profiles who find change difficult and as a manager, to help them into change is your challenge. Age is another factor. Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory helps to understanding that people’s priorities and motivations are different depending on their stage of life.
The manager needs to understand people’s needs, at different age levels to better be able to manage change, however, this can be a very big challenge for managers especially dealing with older people who are usually rigid and do not believe anything other than what they already know. People’s strengths and weaknesses differ and not everyone welcomes change. It requires time to understand the people you are dealing with, and how and why they feel like they do, before you take action, but the manager may not have that time especially if they are faced with such a rapidly changing world, where a delay might give competitors a chance to override and gain a very big competitive edge. This may be a challenge that requires high skill level and competence for the manager.
Managers today have a challenge of fast changing environments where by planning, implementing and managing change in a fast-changing environment is increasingly the situation in which most organizations now work. Dynamic environments such as these require dynamic processes, people, systems and culture, especially for managing change successfully, effectively optimizing organizational response to market opportunities and threats. Some organizations may not have capacity to be dynamic due to different reasons and therefore managers face the bigger challenge. In his book, Change management, 2010, Prof. Dr. Olaf Passeheim identified a challenge due to technological changes today.
The International and dynamic situation of the global market has created a big need for change, and this has created a challenge of deregulations which have increased the competitive pressure and minimized monopoly power. Managers today work in such very rapid environment where the organization itself might not be in a position to go with the pace, for example, telecommunication companies like MTN, if it does not have financial capacity to afford the required equipments and software that go with the trend or the required skills to operate them. In any case, the manager has to find a way, or lose the game, an impact that may last and could permanently damage the company.
Economic ups and downs are a big challenge, they have such a huge impact on organizations and markets for example, the most recent financial crisis that led to cutbacks and reduced employment, managers face the challenge of neutralizing the situation and making necessary change decisions to cope with the situation. (Passeheim – Change Management 2010) Changes in an organization where workforce is never static for example due to changes in gender, age, education, in and out employees create challenges for managers to go with changes because there will always be a need to redesign work, jobs and working groups, to ensure matching job requirements and skills.
High financial costs of replacing, upgrading or buying new equipments which the organization may not be in position to procure, this will delay change process for a cost restrictive business. New systems may also fail and the organization is forced to sell the new equipments at reduced prices, pay employees for redundancy or dismiss them with a package because computers replaced them, training that comes with a cost, managers may have to resist implementation of any changes to cut on the costs involved, a decision that might challenge his capacity as a manager. Lack of analysis of strategic and operative challenge in changing the organization, some managers might blindly decide to make changes without analyzing the weight it holds.
Some managers consider strategic plans unimportant and in a way ignore what the operative system is like, changes that are not strategically planned may become disastrous as things are only done as they come, operations may be guess work and yet change is something to be handled with care. There may be some unprofessional use of methods in change process as a result. Insufficient problem awareness, if the manager is trying to go through a change process, but does not exactly know the current problems that may have led to the need for change, it will be a very big challenge for him to make the right and appropriate decisions to implement the changes.
Insufficient communication in the organization, if departments and employees do not freely and regularly communicate and even the manager is not interactive enough with employees, yet they ought to know what goes on around, change might come as a surprise for many who may not know why it came, many might resist it or just follow blindly and this could greatly compromising quality. Lack of control by managers, it is a challenge if the manager does not have control over employees, operations, systems due to several factors like limitation from superiors or lack of control skills. In such situation, the manager will find it difficult to even bring about change in the organization.
Managing through Change – MTD Training and ventus publishing 2010, suggests other challenges that managers are likely to face in the change process, these include thus: ?Key staff may leave Market place changes may make your new initiative more urgent or less important ?Budget cuts may put a freeze on resources that u are dependant upon for implementation of change ?Legal regulations or requirements might change requiring an adoption to your plan ?Consumer response may fail to meet expectations requiring to reconsider your choice ?Competitors may act in ways that require you to revisit your objectives or vision ?Unexpected technology barrier may arise ?Costs, time, requirements or staff hour requirements may begin to exceed estimates. As manager, facing the above discussed challenges, one may have to scale back, expand or abort the change and any expected outcomes. Flexible is an essential requirement if the company is to survive in a competitive world today.