The Oxford dictionary defines change as ‘making or becoming different’, this statement is very open and broad but so is change. People all around the world experience change’s every day be it the weather, a change of clothes or more importantly major social or economic changes. An example of a large change in recent times is the conversion of major European currencies to the Euro. A change like this affects every one from a major multinational company the newsagents on the corner of the street, thus causing businesses to rethink and change how they are run. However we look at change it is inevitable, continual and will always be there, good or bad.
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The purpose of this paper is to discuss how companies can manage change and try to decrease the complications that arise from it. What is change and why is it so difficult? This sounds quite a simple question but I assure you when you begin to think about it, it’s not. The opening part of this paper will be dedicated to answering the question. I shall include a detailed description of the meaning of change, how it affects everyone involved and sometimes not and also attempt to find out why companies fear the word ‘change’.
Once a business knows what change is they need to know what it incurs and how to manage it? This will be the focal point of the second part of this research document. There are three basic stages to changing a business; research, change and aftercare, obviously the biggest section to this programme is change, which is why it must be managed correctly. This paper will go through some of the correct and incorrect ways that a company can deal with and manage change, starting with research. When a big or small company has done the market research and realises change is inevitable for there company they will need people to lead the changes. It is pretty much agreed by everyone that I’ve researched that having skilled frontline leaders (discussed in greater depth in the forth section of the paper) is the key to a successful and largely painless change regime.
Change is a very difficult time for a company so there are certain things that can be done to relieve the strain from the manager(s) and workers. These large programmes of renovating businesses can be made easier by encouraging involvement from the staff, this also helps to make them feel more stable in there job during this difficult time. The third section of this paper will go into a great deal more detail about how to cope with change and make it a much more positive experience for everyone involved.
Managers (especially in large companies) hire frontline leaders in an attempt to make the change process a smooth one, but why are they really so important, isn’t it just part of everybody’s job description? These are questions not everyone seems to agree on. Within this paper I shall put forward the case for both sides of the argument in an attempt to reach a conclusion of my own. The aim of the paper is to reach a conclusion on a number of questions; will change always be around as it is today? Why and how should we get more used to change?
What is the best strategy in dealing with change? Some things are clear before we get to the conclusion, people do fear change, be it as part of a business or just in everyday life. People fear change because they don’t understand how and why it happens, this means that more education is needed on the subject to try and prevent incompetence and mistakes in future.
What is Change?
Change is the process of going from one state to another, be it a subtle or total difference. When a company brings in a systems analyst to model the existing structure they are more than likely going to want a new system implemented, thus creating change. For example when the Internet was first introduced most computer systems had to be re-networked to embrace it, thus creating a giant change in companies across the globe. A more recent example of change was IBM taking over IT facilities at Boots.
This forced change on the staff as their Boots contracts were ended and re-drawn out under IBM. Although this was seen as a technological advantage the Human Resource Management (HRM) and system analyst members of staff resented the change. From this instance change was a positive thing and took the company forwards but it did bare consequences, such as losing important members of staff. Change can be a risky, but the same as with any gamble there are huge rewards to be made, the trick is to calculate the risk so you don’t lose. Below is a simple change diagram calculating risk; The diagram shows that the greater the interactivity, scope or distribution, the riskier the forecasted change will be. On the other hand, the more reversibility or mature, the less risky it will be.
It is a common reality in life that humans resist things they do not understand, change is no different. If a company is changing its system, members of staff might feel that there jobs are being threatened, especially by the implementation of a new computer system. This is why good change management is so important as without it, it’s very easy to make a huge loss from sudden, unplanned changes. If your company is prepared for change however, then you will have a distinct competitive advantage. In the modern, competitive world we live in today changes occur all the time so it’s inevitable that businesses must roll with them and adjust there systems regularly to keep up.
There is added pressure coming from EU leaders since the March 2000 summit in Lisbon. Here leaders called for employment in the EU to be at 70% by the year 2010, currently this figure is at 63.2%, whilst unemployment is around 8% (figures taken from the European Policy Analyst, March 2002). This means that all businesses across the European Union must ask themselves, what is change? and act accordingly. Managing change has become a concept designed to facilitate change.” I think that this is a clever way of saying that because change is inevitable we must automatically ‘change’ the way we think in order to accommodate ‘changes’ in our lives and places of work.
The overwhelming conscientious is that in order to bring about successful change there must first be planning, then implementation and finally aftercare. There are many different theories about the amount of stages that take place in change management, arguably the most famous of which is Kurt Lewin’s model, which can be found below. He says that organisational change can occur at three main levels; structures and systems, climate or style (a direct change) or individuals.
On most occasions change would affect all three of these levels, I can refer back to the example of IBM taking over Boots’ IT system again. Here the companies system was changed which created a knock on effect automatically varying the style of the business and certainly disrupting the workforce, some more than others. Once again Lewin reinforces the opinion that the first step of changing a system is to face the confrontation that change brings about.