‘Moving organisations from current to future changed states is not easy and requires skills and knowledge some managers do not possess’
The desperate call-to-arms, Change or Die— which can be heard echoing down the corridors of businesses everywhere — is evidence that leaders have recognised the need to change. Managers know that companies must be fast, flexible, responsive, resilient, and creative to survive. Most also know that current mind-sets, techniques, and tools are ineffective for creating such an organisation. These people are displaying the talents required to successfully negotiate change. They are aware of the limitations around or within themselves and are willing to learn the necessary skills required to succeed as change managers.
Change is the process of moving from one state to another. Just as moving house requires the massive packing of furniture and other items, change requires just as much preparations to be successful.
Most people do not like change, they like things to remain the same. Changes require more effort to adapt. It threatens stability and security and people fear that they will not be able to cope. Resistance is the natural defence to such perceived threats.
A good manager has to be able to work with and overcome resistance he/she must be able to control the whole process of change. With this in mind, I have considered the role of the manager, what his/her function is and what skills are required to enable him/her to be a successful change manager.
Function of Managers
Fayol (1908) identified the functions of the manager as:
1. Setting objectives
4. Control or measurement
These functions are as true today as they were then, but I consider communication as the key to them. It is the essential function in successful change management. Drucker (1977 in Stewart 1986) also makes the important addition of, ‘the development of people.’
Each of the functions can be seen as essential to managing emergent or planned change, however it is the balance of skills and knowledge combined that produce a successful change manager.
With these points in mind we then consider organisations and their nature.
Organisations – their nature and culture.
Organisations are living social organisms, each with its own culture, character, nature, and identity. Every organisation has its own history of success, which reinforces and strengthens the organisation’s way of doing things. The older and more successful the organisation, the stronger its culture, its nature, its identity becomes.
They are communities of people with a mission (Putman, 1990 in Buchanan and Huczinsky, 1991), not machines. The basic nature of a living social organism is naturally more fundamental, deeper in the hierarchy, and therefore much more powerful than business work processes, financial systems, business strategy, vision, supply chains, information technology, lean manufacturing, marketing plans, team behaviour, corporate governance.
All of these phenomena are important. But they are less fundamentally important than the basic nature of organisations as living social organisms. This critically important reality must be where any intervention starts. When this occurs, the intervention has a chance of working. To enable this managers must be able to combine their knowledge of the above systems with response ability. If we look at Figure 1, it demonstrates the fine balance required by a manager to remain agile, allowing him/her to manage a changing organisation whilst taking into consideration the infrastructure of the organisation. Agility is an important skill for a manager to possess, if he/she is able to reach this point then they are more likely to be manage change efficiently.
Fig. 1 (Schneider, B. 1997.)
Whether a particular change will work or not is related to the extent to which the idea behind it takes constant process of patterned change into account.
Determining where an organisation has been, where it is currently, and where it is primarily poised to go next is critically important before any change is attempted. Indeed, what managers must do is discover the unique patterns and processes – and then work to influence them in a manner that helps the organisation to help itself function more efficiently and effectively.
The pattern of dynamic relationships at the organisation level is culture, which explains why organisational culture is so powerful. So powerful, in fact, that its impact supersedes all other factors when it comes to organisational change (Kotter & Heskett, 1992 in Schneider 1997).
Collins and Porras (1994 in Clegg et al 1996) showed that it is strikingly evident that organisational culture lies at the centre of what differentiates visionary companies from comparison companies (and significantly greater economic performance over the long-term).
Culture, how we do things around here in order to succeed (Schneider, 1994, 1997), is an organisation’s way, identity, pattern of dynamic relationships, reality. It has everything to do with implementation and how success is actually achieved. No management idea, no matter how good, will work in practice or implementation if it does not fit the culture. Therefore managers have to consider how they can make the culture fit the plan. They do this by acknowledging which type of culture they are in, and then choosing which skills and knowledge they require to ‘fit’ the circumstances.
Leaders create one of four core cultures, consciously and/or unconsciously, from their own personal history, nature, socialisation experiences, and perception of what it takes to succeed in their marketplace. (Schneider 1997) Each of the four core cultures emerges from the following organisation archetypes:
? Control: militaristic system; power motives.
? Collaboration: family and/or team system; affiliation motives
? Competence: targeting system; achievement motives
? Cultivation: growth system(s); self actualisation motives (dagdfhgj)
There is a strong connection between strategy, culture, and leadership. The fundamental connections are shown in Figure 2, which looks at organisation culture, the predicted strategies and the leadership styles. It is to these connections that we must look in order to quantify the skills that the managers within these organisations would be required to utilise to successfully facilitate change. The four ‘epistemologies’ that correspond to each of the four core cultures are also listed. By ‘epistemology’ I mean the primary or central way that each core culture knows and understands.
Fig.2 (Kotter, J.P. & Heskett, J.L. 1992)
Culture Strategy Leadership Epistemology
Control o Market dominance
o Distribution intensive
o Life and death
o Predictability o Authoritative
o Firm o Certainty
Collaboration o Synergistic customer relationship
o Close partnership with customer
o High customisation
o Total solution for one customer
o Incremental, step-by-step, customer
relationship o Team builder
o First among equals
o Trust builder o Synergy
o Experiential knowing
Competence o Superiority
o Extremely unique
o Create market niche
o Constant innovation to stay ahead
o Typically, carriage trade markets o Standard setter
o Conceptual visionary
o Assertive, convincing persuader
o Challenger of others o Distinction
o Conceptual systematism
Cultivation o Growth of customer
o Fuller realisation of potential
o Enrichment of customer
o Raise the human spirit
o Further realisation of ideals, values,
higher-order purposes o Catalyst
o Commitment builder
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. 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.
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.
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.