The implementation of strategic change

This essay will firstly identify the problems that occur in a strategic change and then secondly will look at relevant HR policies that can address such problems. To assess these problems appropriate theorists will be looked at and these theories will be examined to gain a wider understanding of how change can cause problems and how to deal with the impacts of change. To create a meaningful answer the essay will begin with a definition of strategic change which will be kept in mind throughout the essay to keep a common understanding and eliminate any ambiguity.

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In the life span of nearly all organisations there comes a point where there is the need for a strategic change. According to Champy and Nohria (1996) the three main drivers of change are technology, government and globalization and as these three areas are perpetually changing the knock on effect transfers to organisations who to keep up with such changes have to implement strategic change in the workplace.

A change at any scale will cause problems within all areas “the majority of restructuring on UK business organizations had a considerable negative effect on employee loyalty, morale, motivation, and particularly, perception of job security. ” Hamlin et al (2001) p. 71 these negative effects on employees will be examined to fully understand which HR policies can address them. “strategy is likely to involve the long-term direction of the organisation; the scope of the organisation’s activities; the matching of the organisation to it’s environment, and matching to its resource capabilities” Hall et al (1998) p.

97 Strategic change can be considered to be planned change as an organisation may want to improve their position in the market, increase profits and get ahead of their competitors, therefore any change impact on the organisation will not come as a complete shock and so there will be a degree of predictability. “Change is strategic when the organization concerned perceives that the change is indeed strategic” Buchanan et al (1992) p. 5

Adams (1987) suggests that to understand the management of change, management have to consider some of the blocks of problems faced when dealing with change Carnell (2003) p. 93 they consist of perceptual blocks, emotional blocks, cultural blocks, environmental blocks and cognitive blocks. To effectively manage the change process the problems (or blocks) need to be identified. Different problems will fit into different blocks, the first block examined will be the problems contained in culture.

Carnell suggests, a strong culture accommodates for an easier motion in change this is due to the sense of involvement in the workplace, if employees have a vision of the future objectives they are more likely to be more flexible with any change. The organisations with fragile cultures are the organisations that will find any change process difficult “conflicts are likely to be particularly acute in the organic, turbulent, high vulnerability” Buchanan et al (1992) p. 70. Another culture which can lead to problems with change is those with trade unions, many companies take a negative view of trade unions so like to adopt a unitarist approach.

If an organisation has a TU then employees who are having issues with the change will consult their union first and so managers will have a limited knowledge of the problems and so won’t be able to tackle them, this can then result in unions taking further actions like strikes, making out tactics and changes in contracts. When it comes to change one of the major effects on employees will be resistance. According to the CIPD, resistance can take two forms which are resistance to the content of change and resistance to the process of change.

Resistance can also be individual or collectively and this should be noted as individuals experience change in different ways. Resistance can also take the more severe form, for example strikes, picketing and political protests and less dramatic forms “such as work slowdowns, rule violations, working-to-rule, unauthorized break-taking and theft” Jermier et al (1994) p. 221 It is human nature to react negatively to change, a change in the workplace leads to employees fearing for their security which can then have adverse effects on production levels.

Employees can feel confused and unsure about where the company is heading and what will be the future. Lack of consultation at any level will eventually lead to a lack of morale in the workplace. “Any individual faced with a change in the organization in which he/she works in may be resistant for a variety of reasons” Mabey et al (1993) p. 90 people want security in the workplace and a change can cause anxiety, to cope with such anxiety in the workplace employees are likely to adopt a different manner “a change that is imposed on an individual reduces his/her sense of autonomy or self-control” Mabey et al (1993) p.

90. Sabotage, can be adopted by employees in resistance to change and Jermier et al (1994) p. 245 suggests that employees resort to sabotage as they are “coping mechanisms” “Changes which have a significant impact on the work that people do will have a significant impact on their self esteem” Carnell (2003) p. 242 this change of self in an employees self esteem can be looked at in stages, denial, defence, discarding, adaptation and internalization. These stages have a direct correlation with the performance of the employee and so it’s imperative that these stages are understood.

Self esteem can then distress the employee so radically that they resort to absenteeism which then increases costs for their employers and slow down the change process. When implementing change there is likely to be a change in the ways employee works and this could mean a change in skill. This is a problem as it could mean that many of the employees do not possess the relevant skills for the job “What exactly constitutes a resource is problematic especially in regard to the particular characteristics in employee skills that provide value. ” Kamoche (1996) p. 216 If the employees do not have the skills then they can’t perform their job.