One of the examples is a continuous transformational change in BBVA, a famous American bank holding company. The essence of this change was to incorporate agile methodology techniques and improve their daily business activities. Sector-specific drivers (a financial sector) led to the necessity to consider change as an option for a company to resist new entrants and technological disruption. A team of experts was organised inside the company in 2014 to understand how it was possible to achieve tangible results.
One of the first decisions was to introduce and implement a new mobile banking application with the help of which customers were able to discuss their accounts and choose the necessary services, spending less time and few efforts. Then, the Single Development Agenda (SDA) was developed to investigate the bank’s delivery capacity. This transformation process involved a number of employees from different departments. Therefore, the role of stakeholders was crucial in senior management to support the offered planned change.
Any change is frequently resisted by key stakeholders, and it is recommended to manage the work of these people in a proper way. Stakeholders are participants of an organisational change process with a high level of knowledge of past achievements. In addition, these people should have a stake in a process or outputs. Therefore, stakeholders (customers, managers, suppliers, or targets) are usually interested in change because they may directly participate in it, support or resist it, or even be the driver.
They share commitment or alignment on what changes may bring and negotiate the steps to make sure everything is clear in a team. The role of a stakeholder depends on several factors, including his or her position, the ability to build and work in a group, the level of influence and interest. If the company experiences a lack of stakeholders, there is a threat of change failure.
In BBVA, several stakeholders should be identified regarding their roles and possible contributions to the change process. Taking into consideration that this change occurred in a particular sector, it should involve a leader and a number of managers. A leader, as a key stakeholder, is responsible for providing the company or its department with a clear vision of change and the path to be followed. No one but a leader is able to convince the rest of the team that a new culture and a system are essential for the company. As soon as a leader demonstrates a high level of confidence and positive attitudes towards changes, a low resistance level is observed among employees.
The creation of a new banking system is impossible with a group of experts from different fields. Therefore, project and process teams (employees) are also the key stakeholders in a change due to their possibilities to relocate resources, identify priorities, and control business activities. People were the cornerstones of the new organisation because they made a transformation possible. Cooperation between a leader and employees determines the quality and success of the change.
Finally, as client satisfaction is a priority of the company, customers turn out to be key stakeholders as well. These people have a high level of influence because they decide either the offered banking services are effective or not. Change should bring positive results, and the increase in customers and their desire to continue cooperation are the best evidence of successful change for an organisation. Being key stakeholders, clients focus on evaluating services before and after the change and accelerate innovation diffusion. Managers understand that though customers set the tune for a change and support it, they can hardly participate in this process, and no obligations are imposed on them.
In BBVA, there were many factors that contributed to a successful performance, and one of the most crucial moments was the possibility to manage resistance to change in a company. Not all people are eager to accept changes without an opportunity to share personal opinions or even deny an offer. Human emotions are natural, and someone does not want to participate or even cannot do it due to the lack of experience or desire.
Therefore, resistance management is an important task for leaders to complete. There are situations when managers are able to identify and measure natural and social resources but fail to fully utilise the offered material. Resistance may result in “something less powerful stakeholders do to slow down or sabotage a change effort.” In their study, Suddaby and Foster explain resisting change as “the default state of most organizations.” In other words, resistance is not a purely negative concept in change management but an expected outcome that requires some alternatives and options to be offered.
To resist change and manage the work of a company, BBVA followed a plan and discussed all the points clearly. Open communication, collaboration, and organisational supportive culture are the components of resistance management. Even if the change is approved and explained, some people need additional explanations and assistance. Trying to predict potential problems and concerns, BBVA leaders ordered to create several teams to promote the change. It included the experts to promote a new model, an agile coach to support the rest of the group, and leaders to convince and guide. These approaches developed by Kotter, Lewin, and Schlesinger were effective to remove any misunderstanding of the change goals, improve the level of tolerance, and increase employees’ interests.
The role of stakeholders in change resistance management is great because these people can demonstrate their knowledge and share their experiences to inspire other participants. Even if not all team members agree to join a change process, there are good chances to make them change their minds and accept an offer. BBVA showed the way of how to explain the need for change, develop an effective plan of actions, and combine drivers with the chosen leadership styles. A change was introduced as the only opportunity for customers to facilitate their cooperation with the bank. Fast developing technologies and the lack of practice should never prevent success from happening.