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Change management may be defined as the planning, initiation, realization, control and the stabilization of change processes both at the corporate and personal level. Change usually may occur at the strategic level of the organization or involve the personal development of the personnel. Change is a powerful force which is often resisted by most individuals whether it occurs at the corporate or personal level. Despite the resistance, change is a good thing. In fact it is a . livelihood of business in any organization.
This is so because any possible failure to see and adjust to change may lead to a spiral downward fall that may lead to reduced efficiency, productivity, band productivity. Therefore the effects of change on personalities need to be resolved effectively but the change process must go on. At no point should the change process should be stopped because of its effects on the human component of the organization (Burke, 2002: pp. 55-7). Change may be described by a number of adjectives such as confusing, fulfilling, challenging, liberating, disorienting, empowering frustrating etc depending on the magnitude of the impact it has on an individual.
Employees will always view change negatively. They have a negative perception and attitude towards change. The negative attitude of employees toward change is as a result of their fear of losing their jobs, positions, statuses social security and fear of the resulting higher workload. The employees may or may not be justified to view change that way but generally, the effects of change on employees are negative but the interests of the organization should always remain higher than those of personalities.
Even those who survive retrenchment that comes with change will still view change negatively because of two reasons. First, they feel guilty because retaining their jobs makes others jobless and second, the high workload that is likely to come with the change. The remnants can only be willing to the resulting workload if they are given a pay rise. These emotions that result from change may put considerable stress on the changing organization. The stress though is short-lived and after some time the employees tend to forget and move on (Kaufman,1995: p. 12).
Based on the employees general view of change, implementation of change in an organization, division, department, project etc may not be easy but the management need to be strong to see the organization through the change process. There will always be casualties of change. Change should start with the managers. It is often said that leadership is a message. Whatever the manager says or doesn’t say is a message. Therefore the message needs to be clear, consistent and repetitive. This is so because it takes time for people to hear, understand and believe the change carrying message especially if they don’t like what they hear.
It is human nature to resist change and this is precisely the reason why they should be prepared beforehand. Prior communication may make the transition exciting or at least satisfactory. Change implementation is a foursome affair. First, there is need for the establishment and maintenance of the organization’s vision. When you know where you are going it is rare that you can get lost. Second, there is need to establish and maintain a realistic business plan which ought to be in sync with the vision.
Third, communication needs to come in time to pass the synchronized organizational vision and business plan to the organization’s personnel. Finally, there is need for action so as to put into practice what has been communicated in the bid to exercise what is in the business plan which is in sync with the organization’s ultimate vision. Successful implementation of change can thus be seen to be represented by the following equation: Leadership + Vision + Communication + Action = Successful Change. The actions need to be measured and evaluated with the results being compared and deliberated upon.
It is common knowledge that what gets measured gets done and anything rewarded gets repeated over and over again (Spector etal, 2007: pp. 156-8). Change can be discerned through finding out what people out there say about the organization. What is the organizational ranking out there? Does the organization need to do something to gain a competitive edge in the market? All these questions test the inevitability of change. Another way involves the challenging of all the organization’s products, services and policies in a bid to question their relevance to the present corporate, personal and market context.
It is through questioning that you get to understand when change is necessary, how it can be communicated and implemented and how can the favourable results of the change on the organization’s performance measured. Change is often expensive especially when it involves technology. Technology changes fast and thus if any organization that needs to adapt needs to learn rapidly so as to keep up with the pace. Change is often triggered fro without the organization. Linkspan for instance needs to improve technology to keep up with the changing technology.
The effect of technology in market enhancement can no longer be ignored. Further, most people have become technology oriented and are likely to choose a service provider who is technologically compliant that the one who is still struggling with indecision whether to embrace technology or not (Martel,1986: pp 45-54). As stated earlier, the first step in the implementation of change is the detailed review of the organization’s vision. Linkspan management needs to question the direction they are taking whether they are in line with the company’s vision.
I believe that any company will have its vision focussing somewhere close to having an advantageous edge in the market. No organization sets a vision to make losses. The target is always making huge profits that will lead to the expansion of the organization. Once the vision has been internalized, the management needs to ask itself one very important question; is the intended change necessary? If so, how is the change likely to supplement the organization’s efficiency and performance? Is the change in sync with Linkspan’s ultimate vision, objectives and goals?
Once all these issues are established, then it should be officially declared that the change is inevitable and the reasons warranting the change. These reasons and the inevitability of the change need to be recorded. The next step will be an in-depth study on how the change is likely to affect both the strategic corporate and personal components of Linkspan. Study how the change is going to affect the market, the employees, the organization’s expenditure and income, the shareholders, the customers etc. In short measure and evaluate the effects of the change on every party.
Once the measurement and evaluation of the effects of the change has been made, it is necessary to carry out the speculation of the cost of the change. The speculation must factor the costs of employee layoffs, the cost of pay increments for those that remain based on the skills that they will be trained on and the market rates, the cost of training and professional development processes, the cost of the technological component of the change such as the new cranes, integrated bridge systems, autopilot, refurbishments, the cost of other loading and unloading equipment updates etc.
In general, the full cost of the change process need to be speculated and this needs the involvement of professionals to carry out the speculations in each sector of the change. These professional speculators need time to carry out a detailed research. Once they have all submitted there reports i. e. he personnel pay rise and lay off speculation report ( featuring effects of the change on each class of employees rating them from the most affected to the least affected by the change, the number of personnel to be laid off, and those to be retained, lay off packages based on positions of employees, pay rise for the remaining staff based on additional training and responsibilities, criteria for the layoff and retention process and its legality and the time frame for the layoffs) , the technological investment plan report (featuring the cost of the new technology equipment and the labour for the installation of new and overhaul of the old technology, refurbishments etc, the best service provider and their charges and the time the process is likely to take), projection report on how the change is likely to add the company’s profitability and efficiency and how it is likely to enhance the company’s market position.
This should feature a comparative approach where the major competitors are studied and analyzed to determine the market advantage the change is likely to offer the organization (Drucker,1995: pp. 96-103). Once all the reports have been submitted, the management of Linkspan need to take time, study them and the recommendations and thus determine the total cost, legality and time span of the change process. The company’s capability of funding and sustaining the change process shall also need to be evaluated to establish a conclusive decision of whether to carry out the change or not. If the decision is yes then the management needs to go ahead and start communicating the lurking change to all the stakeholders.
As stated earlier, the communication needs to be repetitive consistent and above all very clear. After a blanket communication, the specific phase of communication phase follows. This phase involves communication of the change effects to specific groups of personnel. Start with the most hit and tell them the possible effects the change is likely to have on them. The company’s plan to compensate them, train them, motivate them e. g. through pay rise etc. Give each group time to respond and let the emotions run. Change is emotional. The management needs to be keen to give convincing reasons for the inevitability of the change. State that the company’s interests are higher than any personality.
State examples of other companies that have done so and the legality of the process based on the reports. Note the acceptance or denial of the layoff or pay rise packages and consider the victims proposals offered immediately or later. They might not offer the proposals immediately because the message may still be devastating especially for those to be laid off. There is need for professional counselling to enhance speed acceptance of the change process. Remember to communicate to these employees the time span of the change process to enable them feature this into their personal financial, social or even psychological schedules (Sanderson, 1995: pp. 178-190).
The end of communication to all stake holders marks another session of review of all the recommendations with a committee whose members are drawn from each division of the organization harmonizing the paperwork of the change process and briefing all the stake holders of the status of the change process. The committee has the mandate of identifying the changes noted between the reports recommendations and the actual status. Harmony is then established through deliberative meetings between the management and the affected parties. The committee has to be time conscious because agreements may take time to be reached and in case agreements are not forthcoming, the management should exercise its discretionary powers (Beitler, 2006: pp. 156-9).
The review ushers in the actual implementations at the expiry of the notice offered. Actions should be carried out in such a way that the organizations activities don’t grind into a halt. For example, the layoff needs strategy. Do not yet layoff personnel required before the change process is over. Start with those that are not needed immediately the change implementations start. The refurbishments and fitting of the technological equipment should start with tendering process considering the service providers recommended in the report. Consider their quotations and compare with those quoted in the reports. Consider the quality even though it is still important for the process to be cost effective quality inclusive.
The tender winner needs to start working immediately. The winner needs to understand that link span need not stop operations and thus should work within the schedule given by Linkspan. The carriers need to be refurbished and fitted with the technological equipments in shifts say maybe four at a time (Spruyt, 1990: pp 200-7). Those employees belonging to the first batch of the carriers that need to be laid off, trained etc need to be subjected to the appropriate exercise as their carriers get to be worked on. After all the batches have been worked on, then Linkspan needs to communicate to the customers for the second time the completion of the upgrading process.
For the second time because it is necessary that they are alerted first before the upgrading of the carriers (through a press release) about the limited services to be rendered due to the lurking upgrading. Launch the new fleet and newly trained and new packages together with a farewell party for those laid off. It is important to consider a possible increment of prices of the new services to be offered and if tenable, then communicate them at the launching party and later through a press release The workability of the change needs to be reviewed from time to time say annually. This is specifically important as a way of noting the parts of the process that are not working and the possible remedial measures to be taken. Remember that, always, the most successful companies thrive on change and Linkspan need not be an exception.