Change management is an essential skill for any manager who intends to drive his/her organization towards achieving sustainable progress. However, change can negatively affect the motivation of the human resource because sometimes, when organizations institute it, they do not consider how it will affect their staff in the long term. Ensuring change is implemented as openly as possible, and in an all-inclusive manner is, therefore, a core duty of change managers. Consequently, all who will be affected should be actively involved in the formulation of the new policies. This is not always easy, given that change management is one of the most challenging elements of modern management practice (Isabell, 1990). Unmotivated staff members are likely to put in less effort and are markedly less creative than motivated ones. In addition, employee turnover is in most cases inversely proportional to motivation levels. In the case study scenario for this paper, the Oil and Gas Company’s management has come up with a raft of radical changes geared towards achieving more with fewer resources. This has been immensely successful, and the profits have soared. However, the employees are not sharing the executive’s elation mostly because they are pushed very hard and it puts considerable strain on them. There is immense pressure on them to work harder for longer to meet the new benchmarks set without their involvement. Their primary concern is that they do not feel valued by the company, which appears driven exclusively by financial gain and cares little for their welfare.
For change management to be effective, managers have to transcend the traditional executive-centered techniques and focus uniformly on all who stand to be affected by the change. Because of the perennial failure to consider this factor, most organizational change efforts do not yield the desired results. In the oil and gas company, the managers have not included employees in the decision-making process. Subsequently, they are unable to see the bigger picture or even appreciate the gains the company is making since, in their opinion, it is being done at their expense. Employee apathy is bound to result in reduced motivation and ultimately, the advances made in the short run may be lost when staff feels they are operating on different planes from their employers. The company managers have obviously failed to effectively implement change by virtue of the fact that its main drivers have been excluded from the process. The firm’s focus on increased sales volumes and lower overheads has rewarded it, but not the staff, because, ironically, “doing more with less” includes human resources, which means that fewer teams are expected to work harder and produce more.
Reframing the Problem
Research for this paper and the problematizing process has provided me with a new perspective on how to rethink the problem and perhaps bring it closer to a solution. Instead of approaching it as an issue of dealing with employee apathy and possible attrition, it can be reframed to ask what the employer in the oil and gas company can do to increase staff participation. It is apparent that manager-centric change marginalizes a firm’s most valuable resource (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002), and it is my recommendation that the organization takes deliberate steps to avoid this. Employees are demotivated because they feel not only exploited but also ignored, which will inevitably reduce their creative drive and prove counterproductive. When the problem is tackled from its roots, which are the exclusion of staff from decision-making, change will be unlikely to result in apathetic worker-employee relations.
Among the key causes of failure in change management are executive-oriented approaches, which preclude the insight and viewpoint of the staff (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2007). When one fails to involve them, employees will not fully grasp what their precise role is in change implementation. Consequently, the company will run a risk of cross-purpose operations that can be highly wasteful, in addition to being bad for morale (Balogun & Johnson, 2005). Involving employees in change management is an effective way of bringing the process to fruition in a timely and efficient manner. According to Brockner and James (2008), when employees are active participants in the change process they can make vital contributions. Given that they deal with the various elements of production on a day-to-day basis, their expertise in optimizing the process is invaluable (Palmer & Dunford, 2008). In addition to being ethical, involving the people affected by the change is important since if it fails, the retrospective information can provide damage control (Brockner & James, 2008). In any organization, employees are key stakeholders, and they have much to gain from its success in posterity. For this reason, their involvement can provide management with a more extensive perception of the change process from informed insiders (Graetz and Smith, 2010).
The literature review provides various perspectives that can be applied to the oil and gas company in the case study. For instance, while the change was evidently beneficial to the bottom line, its impact on the human resource was regressive. From the problematizing process, I have discovered that contextualizing a problem to factor in all stakeholders, no matter how insignificant they may appear, is crucial to understanding and addressing both organizational and personal change. A key causative agent of failure in the above scenario is the unwillingness of managers to create a guideline that could assist their staff to understand the change.
Possible Solutions to the Work-Based Problem
Based on what I have discovered through both reading and reflecting on the information gathered so far, my problem-solving approach for the final critical learning report will emphasize establishing the nature of the employee-employer problem from the onset rather than focusing on the consequences. In this case, the former is employee disaffection with management (Palmer & Dunford, 2008). To solve problems like the one the firm in question is facing, managers need to consider the human resource in both significant and minor decisions as opposed to involving them only in the implementation stage. Indeed, it is entirely possible that in some cases it is the feeling of exclusion, rather than any extrinsic loss by staff, that causes employee apathy.
Ultimately, the best way forward for the company is to focus on improving communication between the managers and employees, especially in change management and implementation. Additionally, management should understand that making big profits at the expense of employee welfare is not a sustainable model of operation. There should be a system where the gains of their effort trickle down to them through increased allowances, time off, and more opportunities for promotion among other rewards. However, the staff and employees affected must be actively involved in these decisions.
Alvesson, M., & Sveningsson, S. (2007). Changing organizational culture; cultural change work in progress. New York, NY: Routledge.
Balogun, J., & Johnson, G. (2005). From intended strategies to unintended outcomes: The impact of change management recipient sense-making. London, UK: Sage Publications.
Brockner, J., & James, E. (2008). Toward an understanding of when executives see crisis as opportunity. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 44(1), 94–115.
Graetz, F., & Smith, A. (2010). Managing organizational change; philosophies of change approach. Journal of Change Management, 10(2), 135-154.
Isabella, L. (1990). Evolving interpretations as a change unfolds: how managers construe key organizational events. Academy of Management Journal, 33(1), 7–41.
Palmer, I., & Dunford, R. (2008). Organizational change and the importance of embedded assumptions. British Journal of Management, 19(1), 20–32.
Tsoukas, H., & Chia, R. (2002). On organizational becoming: rethinking organizational change. Organization Science, 13(5), 567–582.