The present case deals with the complex nature of change management. The merging of two companies, Holiday Seekers and Small World, which are travel agencies, requires careful planning and addressing multiple issues. The key issue at stake, in this case, is that mergers tend to fail because of the lack of attention to challenges that come with them. For instance, communication issues are at the top of the list of merger problems because in an environment of change, leaders tend to forget about the importance of disseminating information effectively (Hennessey 2014).
Another issue that needs to be addressed in change management is employee retention. In a merger, changes in the makeup of personnel are inevitable. Some workers may be fired because their services are not needed while others may lose trust in their company and decide to look for other opportunities. Cultural challenges are also at stake in merger changes because companies usually have different approaches to corporate culture, which will lead to possible conflicts and misunderstandings.
The current change management plan proposes solutions and recommendations for merging Holiday Seekers and Small World into one company to ensure that the process does not affect the organizations’ competitive advantage.
Readiness for Change
Change readiness refers to one’s ability to initiate and respond to changes in ways that are positive for organizations, beneficial for sustaining performance, and useful in minimizing risks (Hagelsteen & Burke 2016). In the case of the merging of two travel agencies that will become one separate company, assessing the readiness for change is essential for determining issues that will need to be resolved in the future once a new company is formed.
Plan for the Merging
- Interviews to show employees’ levels of understanding of the problem, their personal identification of benefits and challenges, and the overall understanding of their desire to make changes (Shea et al. 2014). These interviews may be given to a randomly selected sample of workers in both Holiday Seekers and Small World to reveal positive and negative opinions about the merging.
- Top performing and the most popular branches of both travel agencies (Holiday Seekers can be more prepared than Small World and vice versa) may be more prepared for change because the company will leave them as an option for customers to buy travel tickets in physical stores. These branches should not be reformed or closed because of the adverse impact on profitability.
- Less popular physical departments in the Holiday Seekers World Travel Agency should close, which means that workers will be left with no jobs. The management of the company should provide employees with appropriate compensation and assist them in finding new jobs to foster a positive environment. Workers who will not be fired should be trained in using innovative technologies to fit the style of the Small World Travel Agency.
- Change measurements are expected to be different it two companies: one merger can be committed to change while the other may be hesitant and thus less effective in implementing new rules and regulations. The new CEO should be responsible for appointing managers to address employees’ hesitations and dissatisfaction through teamwork.
Impact of Change on Stakeholders
The impacts can vary from one company to another, and within the company, they can also be different. Special worry can be associated with the fear of employees that more work than usual will have to be done. Apart from the mentioned impacts, it is possible that workers (both the management and regular employees) will feel frustrated because they lack knowledge about the new advancements in the workplace.
Plan for the Merging
- Leaders in both companies should be assigned responsibilities from the boards of directors to ensure a clear understanding of issues at hand.
- Effective communication should be established between all stakeholders to guarantee the appropriate exchange and sharing of information.
- If leaders are also resistant to change and thus are ineffective in communicating its aspects, it can be beneficial to involve influences and advisors (Myatt 2012). These professionals should have experience in the field of change management to train the management and their subordinates on how change should be approached and implemented.
- Address any barriers that may be threatening to the success of new developments (Myatt 2012). This means that the people, workflow, and training that limit the adoption of new initiatives should be completely eliminated or their impact should be reduced.
- Within any change processes, revisiting and adjusting over time is necessary. In the course of the merging of Holiday Seekers and Small World, it is advised for the higher management to look at those departments that are performing at an expected level and those that require support. It is recommended to start slowly and build up the necessary changes to guarantee the best level of readiness and adherence among workers.
Leadership Styles for Positive Change
According to Henley’s (2018) article for Forbes, leaders should sell change to their followers because they are usually resistant and judgmental. Transformational and transactional leaders fit change management initiatives despite being completely opposite.
Plan for the Merging
- Transactional leadership style is recommended for the merging of Holiday Seekers and Small World because it focuses on the maintenance of normal workflow through motivating employees to perform at the top level. This style can be suitable in change management because workers need to be supported and encouraged when dealing with shifts in usual operations. Transformational leaders focus on the long-term strategic orientation of operations and thus want their teams to reach the top-level performance.
- Team-building and collaboration at multiple levels of an organization are important strategies within transformational leadership because they enable workers to change for the better. Because of this, a change initiative in a workplace can go hand-in-hand with transformational leadership, which inspires and motivates workers to get better in what they do (Henley 2018).
A Team to Lead Change
To successfully merge Holiday Seekers and Small World travel agencies, putting senior managers of both organizations in charge is the recommended strategy for positive organizational change (Proctor, Powell & McMillen 2013). This is explained by the fact that the top executives of the agencies are the most proficient in understanding the details of how their organizations work. Top executives will also be more effective at communicating the message of change to other parts of their organizations.
Plan for the Merging
- Senior executives must recognize what their employees need and offer guidance.
- The selected CEO of the merged company should appoint managers from both agencies to disseminate information among regular workers to boost collaboration between and within departments.
- In Holiday Seekers and Small World, the appointed managers (which showed to be respected by their subordinates) should communicate the stages of the merging – from decentralization to the establishment of new departments.
- Regular meetings of the appointed organizational leaders and their teams should be held to update each other on the process of change.
- Conflicts of interests will be managed by the CEO and the new company’s board of directors.
Acceptance of Change
Preparing for acceptance of change will require the shaping of a new organizational culture that focuses on improvement and collaboration. In the inter-connected business environment, workers need to be parts of companies that have positive values and beliefs (Cancialosi 2015). It is important to note that there is no universal approach to establishing a positive culture in the workplace because each company has a unique history, goals, and values.
Plan for the Merging: Measurements and Evaluations
It is recommended to combine the cultures of both companies to preserve a positive environment (Cancialosi 2015), which includes the following steps:
- The management of Holiday Seekers and Small World should analyze the cultures of both agencies to find their least effective aspects because merging is likely to make them worse.
- A comprehensive measurement and evaluation plan should be put in place for understanding the outcomes of a change initiative and adapting the existing processes to the culture.
- Calling in an expert to get an objective look from the outside perspective, which is especially valuable.
- Conducting regular evaluations of the companies’ progress to identify gaps (lack of commitment, high turnover, decreased productivity) that would make the new company lose customers.
- Traditional aspects of corporate culture, such as in the case of Holiday Seekers Travel Agency, should be updated in order to bring the new organization to a next level;
- In the case of Small World, the company’s approach to high tech travel business should be adapted to meet the processes that Holiday Seekers have implemented.
- Bringing the best practices from both companies into one business approach to reach competitive advantage.
Plan for the Merging: Culture to Accept Change
In the case of two merging companies, Holiday Seekers and Small World, collaboration is essential to avoid resistance to change. Therefore, the following steps should be followed in the change:
- A culture of collaboration is the most suitable approach to change management because it will encourage employees to work toward a common goal (Dhawan 2017). In the case of two merging companies, the culture of collaboration will be established on an initial meeting and its success would be measure on subsequent meetings.
- The management will conduct a survey to know the positions of their workers to develop communication strategies for enhancing collaboration. They should define the existing cultural differences, both in terms of employees’ values and their national heritage.
- Incentivize employees to adhere to the newly-created culture of change: those departments that show resistance should receive more attention and be persuaded to follow the example of other departments.
- Taking positive aspects of both Holiday Seekers and Small World – whole the former company has a traditional approach to the travel business, the latter is highly technologically advanced.
Change Model and Phases
It was chosen to focus on Kotter’s theory because it is suitable for the given context because it focuses on people behind the change rather than the change itself. It also encourages a sense of urgency for making a change and maintaining its positive outcomes. In order to merge Holiday Seekers and Small World based on Kotter’s change management model, the management should have a top-down approach toward introducing new principles and procedures in the workplace. Phases included in the model that the merged travel agencies can implement are the following:
- Creating a feeling of urgency to make a change – setting a short timeframe so that no time is wasted in business transformation;
- Building a collaborative team to implement the change – bringing workers of both organizations together;
- Developing a strategic vision – combine the visions of the two agencies to ensure mutual beneficence. The highly-technological approach of Small World will enhance the traditionalism of Holiday Seekers and vice versa;
- Getting everyone on the same page – ensure clear communication across all departments regardless of their change acceptance;
- Removing obstacles – harmful behaviors should be eliminated, poor performance should be monitored and improved;
- Generating short-term goals – month-by-month objectives;
- Sustaining changes – a culture of collaboration for making changes adhere to the new environment;
- Making the change a part of an organizational structure – encourage small changes in everyday processes.
- Focusing on the roles – the merger’s leaders to inspire workers to reach the established objectives.
- Avoiding dictatorship – not telling workers what to do but rather persuading them about the benefits of change.
- Supporting the model with the culture of collaboration – ensuring that the workers of both travel agencies create a new and unique team that will lead the company to new objectives.
Maintenance of Change
The merging of two previously independent companies into one is a complex process. However, apart from successfully merging agencies, it is imperative to maintain the change and avoid failures on the way. It is proposed to adopt the philosophy of continuous improvement by involving employees into the process of change to support the collaborative culture.
Plan for the Merging
- Rewarding employees for supporting change will foster an environment of mutual beneficence while allowing the new company to grow in terms of morale and inspiration, both of which are essential for change maintenance.
- Making change an important part of an organizational structure is the solution that will enable employees’ adherence. If one has managed to change the minds of both workers and managers, the change has been successful. This should be done gradually and not too often to ensure that the company can address all challenges of sustainability.
- Changes’ that will bring positive outcomes to companies as whole entities – coaching sessions, team building exercises, monetary incentives.
- Successful efforts should be publicized and disseminated across an organization to promote the positive image of change – monthly newsletters.
- Issues to consider are related to systems, people, processes, structures, and technologies. They can hamper the long-term success of change initiatives and thus negatively impact projects associated with quality improvement.
- A new system of governance along with new management would appear as a result of merging, which is challenging in terms of adherence and sustainability (von Stamm 2013).
Thus, for sustaining change on a long-term basis, problems with ineffective and outdated technologies should be addressed. In the case of the merging, this can include old computers and office equipment at the physical locations of travel agencies. People represent another challenge because they can leave the company if unsatisfied with the change process occurring in the organization. Processes are also problematic in terms of change sustainability because workers may be used to performing a task in one way while the new advancement calls for a new method.
Structure is an issue that needs attention in the context of change management case of merging because the entire framework in which companies were designed would change. Overall, in order to sustain change and ensure that it brings beneficial outcomes for a company, all possible outcomes should be considered to develop appropriate solutions for dealing with the identified issues.
Strategy and Operating Model
The integrated operating model will be the most suitable to merge Holiday Seekers and Small World. It is chosen because it focuses on a single business and a unified strategy to reach competitive advantage.
Plan for the Merging
Both Holiday Seekers and Small World travel agencies will have to collaborate in order to focus on a single goal in their operations and develop an environment that will sustain their performance. The following is the list of suitable recommendations for the model:
- Issues and tasks will be managed centrally and tailored to the needs of the agencies’ locations to reach the maximum level of optimizations.
- One business strategy will be established that the newly-merged company will follow.
- Long-term relationships with customers should be established in order to sustain growth as the center of the strategy (von Stamm 2013).
- This will allow the two merging agencies to understand their long-term goals and act accordingly.
- Digital integration of both companies will ensure the highest level of performance within the newly-developed travel agencies: Small World should share its high-tech experiences with Holiday Seekers to update their processes.
Achieving Equilibrium During Change
Achieving equilibrium at a time of organizational changes requires the management to find a balance between change and continuity. According to von Stamm (2013) for The Guardian, achieving operational excellence is associated with the understanding of diversity, which allows change and continuity to contribute to each other.
Plan for the Merging
- Getting an understanding of a specific organizational context in which changes will occur. In the case of the travel agencies’ merge, such factors as employee numbers, geography, corporate contexts, culture, and other should be considered.
- Determining which changes will be put in place as soon as possible: eliminating poor performance practices and adopting those strategies that have led the companies to be successful.
- A holistic approach toward change implementation for helping to reach equilibrium because it looks at companies as interconnected systems, in which changes of its parts lead to implications for others (von Stamm 2013).
- Avoiding the conflict of goals and interests because they can result in indecision and confusion. In addition, creating equilibrium will require the management to consider the factor of human nature.
- Addressing workers’ resistance to change and being changed as employees, especially when it comes to losing their voice in influencing organizational affairs.
- Providing workers with the necessary information and tools on how the change will be integrated will enable mutual understanding within the company.
Merging two companies into one is a challenge that requires special attention from those implementing the change. In the explored case study, Holiday Seekers and Small World travel agencies were merging together.
This led to immense anxiety and reluctance among their management because some branches would close as a result of ‘rightsizing,’ leaving employees without jobs. The analysis of the change management process showed that in order for the merging to be successful, companies’ leaders should be prepared to do their research to identify the most problematic areas. For instance, assessing the readiness of change was found to be very important but easy to conduct: interviews with managers and change readiness surveys given to employees of both agencies will show whether the companies are ready for a change.
The key impacts of the change can range from confusion to actual resistance on the part of the workers. These can be addressed through the dissemination of important information or the hiring of an independent specialist in the sphere of change management. Finding a suitable leadership style, in this case, either transformational or transactional, will help to boost collaboration and inspire employees to work toward a common goal.
Apart from this, changes in culture may also be put in place. To address the challenge of two separate business entities having to work as one mechanism, the culture of collaboration should be established. Not only will it help to bring workers together but also address the problems of change maintenance and sustainability. Overall, merging is a radical change that not many companies can do successfully, which is why an effective strategy to address all possible challenges is needed.
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Myatt, M 2012, ‘How to lead change: 3 simple steps’, Forbes. Web.
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