Managers And The Process Of Change

.. rder purposes o Catalyst o Cultivator o Harvester o Commitment builder o Steward o Appeal to higher-level vision o Enrichment o Evaluational knowing Management Skills and Knowledge The control environment was suited for much of the 20th century, but beginning in the early 1970’s its effectiveness began to erode. Vaill (1998), explains, that today’s environment is comparable to white water rafting. The techniques that worked then simply will not work now. In order to survive in the 21st century, companies will be forced by the ever-evolving marketplace to shift to a creativity/differentiated orientation.

This poses a significant challenge for many managers. Most people in positions of leadership today gained their success through their mastery of traditional management techniques and approaches (Kanter in Huczinski and Buchanan, 1991). The transformation of their organisations will carry with it profound changes in how they will have to lead. In the mechanistic command-and-control culture, hierarchy and clear lines of authority are the load-bearing structures that keep the company intact. Consequently, the fate of any change rests on the shoulders of a few key people. They are expected to select a winning strategy, develop detailed operating plans, direct the activities of subordinates, be more intelligent than anyone else, know more than anyone else, and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

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It impossible for change to succeed this way, these expectations are an impossible burden. In a Cultivation Organisation, the load-bearing structure is the system’s ability to self-organise. The role of managers then, shifts to activities that promote the richest possible environment for changes to occur. A strong, well-understood core ideology is vital to change. It is through shared beliefs and intentions that people are able to act autonomously and remain in accord with the whole – thus drastically reducing the need for external controls.

Bureaucratic organisations typically ignore this area and experience resistance that can be completely out of proportion with proposed changes. Bureaucracies establish order through external controls and rigid structures, so they perceive little need for and have little interest in the organising power of shared purpose and principles. Managers of change must now be able to contribute their skills and knowledge in the following areas: ? Change or enrich the culture – They must utilise their employees so that they are able to operate with few rules and still create productive, purposeful results. It is through the organising power of a strong culture that change will be achieved successfully. The new manager must actively nurture and expand the organisation’s culture, becoming examples of the desired behaviours.

? Developing alignment – Managers must use their perspective to create this alignment around the achievement of a shared vision. ? Promoting understanding – Clarify noise and rumour then transform it into meaningful information. People in organisations work in many different contexts, and leaders need to find the language that speaks to people where they are, both physically and psychologically. ? Ensuring the flow of information – Managers are essential in obtaining accurate and useful information and feedback from the organisation where the change is taking place. They reflect the performance of the change, so individuals and groups can self-correct to bring their efforts into accord with the goals.

In particular, they should help the organisation see important information that is being ignored, denied, or distorted. ? Hold anxiety – Change and disturbance evokes anxiety, which in turn will provoke resistance in people. Being able to hold this anxiety, and still function effectively is the mark of a good change manager. Leaders in modern organisations help people to hold and use this anxiety by putting it into its proper perspective as the energising spark for creative action. As stated earlier I feel that communication is the most important skill that a manager should possess, and when considered in junction with the functions listed above, it can be seen as the lynch pin of the entire framework. Communication To emphasis the importance of communication I have considered the abilities of important figures in society, both past and present, and the changes that they wrought.

Most statesmen, or catalysts for society were/are orators. In effect they were communication and change agents. The Roman Empire was so successful because of its communications. It conquered the world by opening channels of communication that were unheard of in their efficiency until that period. World War II was not that long ago and one of the greatest change agents the world has ever seen was Hitler.

Through his powers of communication he controlled entire nations, and convinced them to take part in a change that reverberates around the world to this day, a change that was incomprehensible in its foundations to the majority of the world. People who heard him speak would talk of the joy they felt, how uplifted they felt and how passionate. They left rallies with a ‘burning desire to please this wonderful little man’, (Hitler and his Henchman, The History Channel). This shows that a successful change manager will not necessarily be frank and honest all the time, rather that he/she will utilise the lines of communication in the most effective way for the change to succeed. For instance unpalatable truths such as redundancy, loss of power, will be presented to others in the most favourable light to them and their mind set, alternatively they may be eliminated from all information, with only points that are perceived as good being presented to those involved. The ethical considerations of this must then arise. From the point of Lewin, change managers should be trained in sensitivity to enable them to relate to the workforce and understand them, in order to allay their fears effectively.

There is also the consideration that if communication is not open or truthful that in future change proceedings there will be greater resistance and a lack of trust to overcome. Stretching any managers’ skill to the limit. Dawson (1994) discusses the idea of communication and employee involvement being central to the process of change as a crucial consideration in overcoming the natural resistance that most employees feel. Communication and the mediums used must be must be considered carefully by management. It should be noted that the most popular management styles of the past twenty years or so have been imported from the Japanese, whose management styles reflect that communication with employees is vital to the success of the organisation whether there is change occurring or not.

Summary There will always be resistance to change, it is the nature of people that they like things to remain the same. A good manager has to be able to work with and overcome this resistance, he/she must be able to control the whole process of change. In order to do this they have to utilise and balance all of their knowledge and skills, whether they are traditional, modern, or most likely a mixture of the two. The different cultures that comprise organisations mean that there is no one prescriptive approach for successful change management, rather managers have to be aware of the present situation and have the ability to see the transition to the future proposed state. Therefore it is most likely for an ‘all rounder’ to precipitate successful change. This will be someone who has the ability to perform all of the key management functions as listed earlier as well as being able to diagnose, adapt and communicate.

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