The Vision Failed
If I were to consult with the HTE board of director soon after Harold started making changes, I would advise them, regarding the transformational perspective, to follow carefully how Harold is implementing these. In fact, to benefit from those changes and achieve Harold’s goal, the board of director should encourage him to adopt a transformational leadership.
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Then, I would explain to the board of director that a leader’s influence is inseparable from follower’s needs. Meaning that, all the changes, implemented by Harold, must be accepted by all employees. I would advise them to warn Harold to take into account all employees’ needs and not favor some among others. Unfortunately, designing changes with only a few senior managers may have created a feeling of unfairness for those left aside. Consequently, they could be reluctant to the reorganization.
Furthermore, the board should expect Harold to promote collaboration and rewards. As a result, employees would be able to innovate, improve their efficiency and commitment to work.
To finish with, I would explain the significance of Harold’s behavior in order to achieve their goal because people are not always at ease with changes at work. They need someone to rely on to face their fear of uncertainty. That’s the role I would advise the board of director to help Harold with.
To answer the question, I think Harold had a clear vision for HTE but I assume he did not know how to implement it.
As we can read in the case, Harold’s vision, was:” to prove new technologies and advanced management techniques could make HTE one of the best manufacturing companies in the country”. We can say it is an “attractive, realistic, and believable future” (Bennis and Nanus, 1985). This clear vision is simple and understandable. In fact, it should create energy and motivation for the employees to take part in this change. Unfortunately, this vision did not come from the whole company but only from Harold. He chose to reorganize things that would more reduce employees’ efficiency than improve it. Because he did not take into
account all employees’ opinion he did not took the accurate decisions. As a consequence, it is challenging for the employees to support something they did not participate in. Over and above, the changes did not correspond to employees’ needs. They did not identify themselves in this vision and rather consider it as a forced change.
Then, even if the vision seemed clear to Harold, his role in implementing it wasn’t a success. While Harold wanted to positively transform HTE the result was that the company felt apart. Harold lost his employees’ trust. They needed a sense of identity within the organization and a sense of self-efficacy (Shamir et al., 1993) that Harold did not clarify it. To finish with, the sentence “no one understood in which direction they were going” highlights doubts among employees. As a matter of fact, the vision was only correct and appropriate for Harold but he did not know how to shape the company’s future.
From my point of view, Harold wasn’t effective as a change agent or a social architect for HTE.
In most cases, a change agent comes out as a strong role model for employees. They are the competent agent articulating the organization and expressing strong ideals. Harold failed this mission. He wasn’t able to fit together different parts of the organization. Whether Harold should have created trust and be predictable, he was a mystery and an arbitrary manager. In addition, to be a reliable change agent, they have to listen to followers and accept criticisms. Harold should have cooperated with his team for them to trust him and believe in his ideas. On the contrary, at one point Harold appeared careless to employees’ concerns, which is the opposite behavior of an effective change agent.
To continue, we should define a social architect: “This means they created a shape or form for the shared meanings people maintained within their organizations” (Peter G. Northouse chapter 9 “Transformational leadership p197). A social architect is also here to help people find their role in the new company’s identity. They need to understand how to contribute to the vision of the organization. Unfortunately employees lost this vision because of Harold actions. Employees couldn’t identify themselves to him and disconnected to HTE.
They did not know which future, or new values and norms to expect for the company. Harold lost his employees whereas he was supposed to lead them into this transformation. To finish with, an active change agent, as a social architect, would appear effective by working with others by listening to them, encouraging them and celebrates their accomplishment. On the contrary, Harold often failed to listen to his employees ‘anxieties and misunderstood their needs.
If Harold had the chance to return as president of HTE, I would advise him to always take into account his employees’ needs.
I would recommend Harold to build his identity as a leader using: - Idealized Influence: He should develop his charisma and act as a strong role model for employees. Harold must provide them with a sense of mission and reduce uncertainty. He would rather have evaluated impacts of changes before implementing them, by asking employees” advice.
- Inspirational Motivation: Harold’s behavior should inspire employees to commit themselves in the organization and achieve a common goal. Instead of appearing as an “enigma”, Harold may have gain to stick to his vision, to his statement as being a democratic leader and a hands-on manager instead of being arbitrary.
- Intellectual Stimulation: I would advise Harold to encourage employees being creative and innovative in order to become the best manufacturing company in the country. By using employees’ ideas, Harold would implicate them in the implementation of changes. In other word, the employees would become a part of the shared vision of the organization. Moreover, they would feel responsible for the success of this vision they contributed to create. Furthermore, they would develop their fullest potential in their work.
- Individual Consideration: Harold could win followers by providing a supportive climate in the organization. Followers may need help in their personal challenges. They require someone to talk to and rely on.
As a conclusion, I would remind Harold that change is a good thing but changing on your own won’t make any difference. Harold may have good ideas for the company but he necessitates to be followed by his employees. In fact, employees’ needs are inseparable from Harold success as a leader.
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