Why change management?
Why is it necessary to change in business instead of holding on to the past? Because of the globalisation, constant change of supply and demand, changing business environments, market maturation, increasing costs and competition, the desire to improve and grow as a company, development of new services, keeping your business move forward, developments in technology, … (Halkos 2012, Raynor and Mumtaz 2013, De Smet, Lavoie and Hioe 2012, Riwo-Abudho, Njanja and Ochieng 2012, Quiros 2014). Fully convinced now? We can conclude that change is inevitable and necessary to succeed in the current business environment (Quiros 2014).
The master of change: Richard Branson
The Virgin Group is an example of change management within an organisation. Entrepreneur and founder Richard Branson, innovated, diversified and acquired many businesses (Australian Business Solutions 2012). He took many risks to bring out new and better products. Branson states that when circumstances and opportunities have changed, it is time to renew and give a new direction to the company (Branson 2011). Due to his change management, Virgin has a large business portfolio. For example, the group has taken over the Northern Rock bank to create Virgin Money (Australian Business Solutions 2012). Moreover, Virgin is active in the entertainment, health & wellness, travel, leisure and telecom industry.
Human preference to the comfort zone
Change in business has an effect on the company’s strategy, organisational structure and as well on the employee’s wellbeing (Halkos 2012, Quiros 2014). The psychological aspect of change shouldn’t be ignored because humans’ natural reaction to change is resistance. When your manager communicates the change of your whole working schedule, you will feel fear and a feeling of loss of control (Bryson, Barth and Dale-Olson 2013). Moreover, you will prefer the routine and predictability of your past work schedule (Ruiz 2014). People like their routines, habits and tend to repeat their actions because of the familiarity and the constant and predictable outcome (Ruiz 2014).
Employees are a challenge in change management because of their perception of change as a threat (Halkos 2012). They will feel psychological stress, uncertainty, resistance and frustration due to the perceived loss of control, job-related anxiety and fear of not being able to meet the new demands (Halkos 2012, Bryson, Barth and Dale-Olson 2013, Ruiz 2014).
On the other hand, this fear of change depends on the personality, education and responsibility of the employee and the nature and size of change (Armean 2013, Halkos 2012). For example, changes in working hours will have a higher impact on the individual than product innovation (Halkos 2012). Furthermore, the intensity of employee’s opposition depends as well from the organisational climate, period of change, country and culture (Prediscan, Bradutanu and Roiban Roxana 2013). Hofstede stated Uncertainty Avoidance as a cultural dimension, which affects the embrace or opposition to change depending from culture to culture (The Hofstede Centre 2014). My country Belgium scores very high on the Uncertainty Avoidance chart with 94%, consequently, we can assume that Belgians are highly opposite to change (The Hofstede Centre 2014).
Role of managers
As stated above, organisations need change and people are a key factor to make significant change in the way they act. Consequently, managers should moderate and manage the impact of change on the employee’s wellbeing with a well-defined human resources management programme (Mullins 2013).
Workers have to keep inspired when they feel overwhelmed during change which requires change programmes focused on communication and dialogue (De Smet, Lavoie and Hioe 2012, Halkos 2012, Ruiz 2014). Leaders have to navigate their teams during the transition phase by motivating and discuss openly about the following items in order to overcome the resistance to change among employees (Quiros 2014):
- Current assessment results
- Purpose for change and the advantages
- Impact to the organisation and management
- Necessary process adjustments
- Necessary retraining
- Risks and opportunities
- Timetable for the utilisation and evaluation
- Rewards (Ruiz 2014).
In conclusion, the manager’s and leaders most important role in change management is communication with the employees during the whole process. This can reduce the barriers to change of fear, frustration, resistance, intolerance and anxiety among employees.
Because of human’s natural psychological reaction of resistance to change, I like the security in the past and my habits. But for my past work and educational experiences, I choose to go for the unknown and to change. Every time before starting a new challenge, I felt fear to change. Once my experience was successful I felt much more confident and continued embracing the unknown. For example, I lived for 21 years in Belgium and my dream was to stay in my favourite city Antwerp for the rest of my life. However, one day I decided to go to the South of France to improve my French in a language school during 8 weeks. The days before my departure, I had to resist several times not to cancel the lessons. Anxiety and fear of unknown came up. But since my first day in the language school, I haven’t stopped travelling for almost 3 years now and discovering other cities by living there, learning about other cultures, people and languages. And I love it.
So… let’s change!
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