Change is a constant factor that frequently occurs in organizations. This happens in a number of ways including; growing from a sole proprietorship to a private or public company, cultural change and changes in operational areas. These changes are usually motivated by changes social issues, technology, economic changes, changes in the political structure and legal issues (Black & Gregersen 2002). Organizations face a lot of changes in trying to implements these changes. The challenges range from resistance from employees, lack of appropriate skills to drive the change and the limitation of resources (Vallabhanen 2008). This paper looks at the how various concepts can be applied to sustain change in an organization.
For any change to be implemented successfully in an organization, it must be accepted and supported by the employees. Organization managers should therefore focus on incorporating in any change initiative, measures that make it favorable to employees (Rowland & Higgs 2008). The measures should largely touch on the attitude and behavior of the employees. Change initiatives can be radical or incremental; radical changes do not give employees time to adapt and often fail to get their support (Black & Gregersen 2002). Good change initiative should be systematic and should begin with a trial phase targeting a small sample of employees before being expanded.
Sustaining Change in an Organization
Once a change initiative has been integrated in the operation processes of an organization, what follows is to sustain the change. At this stage, the major operation processes are identified and allocated to particular individuals (Rowland & Higgs 2008). There is need to have a constant review of employees’ performance and reward in line with the new changes. Employees should be recognized for compliance so as to foster loyalty towards the change in the entire organization (Rahschulte 2007). Organization managers should develop a monitoring unit for the change initiative to establish whether the process is in line with the set objectives and also identify processes that require new approaches.
In the process of sustaining change, organizations go through a learning process on their own abilities, customers and other stakeholders. This can also lead to changes in the business approach, the aim of all this is to achieve the set financial goals. Once the change initiative achieves its set financial goal, the challenge then shifts to maintaining the gains for a longer period (Rahschulte 2007). The management should minimize further changes and focus on what is already in place. This helps employees to concentrate on a particular change initiative to help the organization attain its objectives. Research indicates the secret to maintain change in an organization is to keep track of the change items introduced in the organization. The management should continuously improve on the change strategies to ensure employees comply (Vallabhanen 2008).
Everyone in the organization should be included in the change initiative, so as to ensure the change enjoys the support of everyone in the organization. The management should make every employee aware of the benefits underlying the change both to the organization and individuals (Rahschulte 2007). Dwelling more on the benefits the change will have on the employees rather as opposed to the organization can result in greater support of the change initiative. Successes associated with change should be kept as reference cases for future change initiatives to remind employees of the need to support changes in the future.
It is also important to integrate change within the organizational structure. The aim at this level is to change the mentality of the stakeholders in the organization as well as the employees. Change initiatives should be based on a well researched model that works to the benefit of both the employees and the organization. Implementing change initiatives that are not in line with the vision and mission of the organization can erode the confidence of employees in future change initiatives. It is therefore the responsibility of managers to ensure that the proposed changes will yield perceived results before trying to convince employees to support it. All change initiatives should be made public so as to ensure they are supported across the organization.
Good leadership is an important aspect of change implementation; research indicates that leading a change process requires a leadership that is committed, informed and influential in order to spread the change. The person does not need to be a senior in the organization but simply an individual that has ability to lead the rest into a desired course of action to attain the anticipated response to change (Thomas 2005). If the organization chooses to use an individual within the organization who is not part of the management to lead the change, it is important that the management draws a clear contract with the individual to guide him or her on the required responsibility. The contract should also spell out the type of support the change agent shall be accorded by the management.
Speed is another important factor in realizing and maintaining change. Often change initiatives decay or become irrelevant when they are not implemented within an acceptable time limit (Cummings & Worley 2009). This often occasioned by lack of well planned schedule of change implementation. If the change agents instead of focusing on achieving the change milestones as proposed in the schedule of change focus on ensuring that all stakeholders are trained to handle the change, enough resources are in place; then the change cannot be realized (Orridge 2009). The management should ensure the change milestones are implemented in time as provided by the change schedule.
Sustaining a change process requires recourses; this is usually in terms of funds for driving the change, the human resource to support the change, time, training and appropriate technology. The change agent should ensure that there are sufficient resources to handle the perceived change (Thomas 2005). Lack of sufficient resources as well lack of the proper know-how to utilize the resources in the process of implementing change is a major cause of stalling change initiatives.
Overcoming the Challenges to Change
The first step to overcoming the barriers to change is to be aware and have skills of the change initiative. Most change agents often lack awareness on proposed changes or are not familiar with the strategies required to implement change (Cummings & Worley 2009). It is also important to understand how the current practices have to be replaced by the new changes. A change initiative should be implemented with a guideline, to which constant reference should be made to ensure all steps are captured as required. Lack of recorded guidelines often results in haphazard implementation of the change items. Besides, motivation is an important aspect of change implementation. In this regard, the change agents should consider both external and internal factors that trigger a drive in the employees to act in line with the change requirements.
Beliefs and attitudes can be a part of the barriers to successful implementation of the change process. The two human characteristics affect how people behave and respond to pressure and the needs of life (Orridge 2009). They also affect how a people perceive the benefits and costs of various decisions in life. It is important for the change agents to understand how to persuade employees to accept the changes that are in conflict with their beliefs and attitudes. There is often the fear of accepting new ways of doing things because of possible consequences that may arise by not following known and acceptable ways of working.
Employees should be empowered to handle the change in terms of skills and knowledge. Lack of appropriate skills and knowledge that is relevant to act in accordance with the change is an eminent barrier to change (Kusluvan 2003). Employees need to be trained on the new changes to acquire skills related to the new changes. They also need to be given a time line in which to learn the new skills. Change agents can also make use of mentors especially from other organizations that have successfully initiated such changes to inspire their employees. Good working relations should also be fostered in organizations to ensure that everybody is at peace with each other during the change process.
Change agents should be able to identify and talk to key staff members about the change and urge them to support the initiative. The individuals chosen for this course should be members who have a good understanding and knowledge of the organization (Kusluvan 2003). This approach helps the change agent to gain information about the issue at hand right from the people who are in touch with the reality of the working process in the organization. It also has an advantage in that it does not involve a lot of expenses as one would use when consultants are involved. The approach is however, faulted for giving biased views based on individual perception.
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