Organizations across the world are increasingly experiencing tremendous changes in their structure and practice as competition bites in the marketplace. Despite the fact that some of the changes are fundamental and long overdue, serious risks are involved in terms of lost productivity, increased healthcare expenses, low morale, and low levels of job satisfaction. The Human Resources Management (HRM) function in organizations is often faced with immense challenges as enterprises change their strategies to remain competitive. This is because HRM is central in the management of complex change processes that affects the organizations (Caroline 2007). This paper aims at discussing how change can be effectively implemented in an organization using various organizational development theories and Human Resource strategies.
Organizational change is critical in many competitive organizations to guide them in achieving their long-term success. Managers have realized that they must constantly realign the processes and systems of the organizations they lead to make them more effective. But what is organizational change? According to McNamara (2008), organizational change takes place when organizations progresses through different life cycles the same way that individuals evolve through the various stages of life. Noteworthy organization change occurs when organizations transform their nature of operations, their general strategies for success, or when they add or remove major sections in their business practice (Change Management, 2008).
Organizational change is often spearheaded by managers and leaders who must make considerable efforts to accomplish the intended changes in any organization. Some leaders continually struggle and fail to effect proper organizational change while others are very good at this effort. At the centre of all this is the Human Resource function, responsible for managing the very people who are entrusted with effecting desired organizational changes. The success or failure of any intended organizational change fundamentally depends on the Human Resource management.
Nature and causes of organizational change
Organizations change just like individuals do when confronted with specific situations. For example, the hospitality industry has been forced to change its way of operations due to advances in technology. Now, a tourist can book for a flight, hotel, accommodation, and meals just by a simple click of the mouse. The hotel industry in particular was affected by online booking to an extent of changing their operation modalities (Rathore 2006). In order to bring the organizational processes and systems at par with prevailing internal and external factors, organizations must continually experience the process of change.
Organizational change is greatly related to organizational development as both occur to increase the effectiveness of an organization. Organizational development, popularly referred as OD is an organization-wide, top-down, planned effort that is aimed at increasing the health and effectiveness of an organization (McNamara, 2008). Accordingly, both organizational change and organizational development are complex organizational strategies that are aimed at changing the beliefs, attitudes, structures, and values of organizations to be able to adapt to new markets, technologies, and challenges.
Both involve organizational reflection, self-analysis, planning, and self improvement. Organizational change comes in many forms. Organizations may experience changes in size, culture, or structure. The nature of such changes may often result in changes to decision-making process, hierarchy, leadership, or the day-to-day activities carried out by staff (Bolognese, 2002). For example, the Kenyan hospitality sector made massive job cuts due to the political instability that rocked the country immediately after the 2007 presidential elections. This change in size and structure was occasioned by an external political factor.
In the modern business scenario, a variety of factors are thought to necessitate organizational change. Such factors include government regulations, rapidly growing technology, and globalization. Organizational change can arise due to political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors as witnessed in the PESTLE business analytical model (Change Management 2008). Customers, competitors, and markets are other likely causes of organizational change especially in the hospitality industry. For example, stiff competition among tour operators has forced the industry to come up with customer-tailored products that have changed the way businesses used to operate. Within the organization itself, change can arise from individual departments, employees, and trade unions.
The Change Process model developed by Lewin is used in this paper to better describe the process of change. In entails three phases – the unfreezing stage, the new level, and the refreezing stage (Caroline 2007). In the first stage, current organizational objectives must be viewed as unfavorable and hence unsuitable. If tourists are booking their accommodation online, a manual booking system utilized by a hotel will obviously be viewed as unsuitable in modern business environment. The second phase, called the new level, involves the search and establishment of new behaviors. Going back to my example, this will involve the hotel managers and other key stake holders searching for ways through which they can conduct their business online.
This may involve purchasing software packages such as Galileo, training of staff, and changing the processes and systems to be able make maximum use of the software package. The final phase involves internalizing the new behaviors and making them to become the standard norm in the organization. To achieve the desired organizational success, the affected organization must fully institutionalize and internalize the effected change process. Success will be guaranteed if such a model is used to manage the process of change. Other models that can effectively be used to guide the process of change to its successful completion include the Burnes model for organizational change and the Griner model.
Human Resource strategy and formulation in effecting organizational change
The human resource function has steadily faced a lot of challenges in justifying its existence and position in organizations. According to Caroline (2007), it is the function of HRM to assist the organization in achieving its stated goals and objectives through effective use of its employees. It can inarguably be said that organizational strategy forms the basis for any human resource strategy. Accordingly, the human resource strategy and formulation must be developed by the organization’s senior management team led by HR manager. However, staff designated to the HR section and all line managers must keenly understand the human resource strategy as they will be directly responsible for its implementation (Cummins & Christopher 2005).
In the 21st century, the term strategy is synonymous to long-term planning. The purpose of the human resource strategy is therefore to plan ahead on how the organization’s human potential can be maximized or made more productive. According to Tyson (1995), HR strategy refers to the intentions made by any organization toward the management of its human capital made through HR practices, policies, and philosophy. Mintzberg (1994) argues that any strategy must be informed by events rather than systematic calculations. According to this model, the importance of employees must be underscored in achieving any organizational strategy. Employees are central for organizations to reduce costs, manage resources, or maximize profits.
Organizational change can effectively be implemented in any organization through HR strategy and formulation.
A good human resource strategy must provide a convincing and compelling business case for aligning the business strategy with people and the organization (Dunphy, Griffiths, & Benns 2007). It must be able to influence the attention of management and develop the fundamental obligation for needed support and resources for change implementation. The human resource strategy must ignite dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs and create a heightened sense of urgency and readiness for organizations to change. For the process of change to be implemented successfully, the human resource strategy must effectively define the actions and objectives required for organizations to attain competitive advantage through efficient management of people.
According to the fit model, people and organization issues are directly connected to specific business objectives, and in turn are derived from critical business success factors and the forces that drive the business. For a human resource strategy to effectively drive the process of change in an organization it must be consistent with the business strategy, address the essential combination of relevant human resource and organizational management practices, effectively be able to define the needed changes to the employees, and take a universal management perspective that will ensure that all the actions taken will effectively address the challenges brought about by the impending change (Action Research, 2008).
It must be able to introduce innovations and breakthrough ideas to the process of change as well as allow the organization to differentiate itself in the increasingly competitive market. Also, a human resource strategy designed to bring about organizational change must be able to add value to the process of change, thereby reducing resistance that is bound to come from the employees. Despite being able to create solutions that enable the organizations to grow, it must also contribute to the value chain that will effectively secure customer retention and satisfaction (McNamara 2008). Above all, it must be effective in helping managers to control and manage the process of change itself, expected to be tumultuous and rapid.
Power, politics, and conflict in organizational change
Power is often described as the ability of a department or individual to influence other individuals in bringing about desired changes in an organization. It is the potential to sway other individuals within an organization but with the explicit objective of achieving preferred results for the power holders. According to Mcshane (2004), politics in an organization refers to behaviors that other individuals recognize as self-serving tactics that are aimed at personal gain at the expense of the organization in general and other individuals in particular. According to Sarah (1999), conflict is an inevitable and natural outcome of the close association of individuals who holds many varied values and opinions, chase diverse objectives, and has an unbalanced access to resources and information inside an organization.
People in an organization are known to use politics and power to manage their differences thereby reducing conflict. Accordingly, for any organizational change to be effective, the dynamics of power, politics, and conflict must be taken care of. The three are indisputable features of organizational and social life. The challenge that exists for any manager is how to effectively use these aspects to enhance organizational change and minimize the resistance that comes with the change (Bolognese, 2002).
Here, business managers can utilize both the rational model as well as the political model to ensure that the process of change is successful. The Rational model begs all stake holders in a particular organization to align their goals so as to achieve some form of pooled interdependence, increase resources, and reduce differentiation. The political model assumes that conflict and disagreements are normal in any organization, and bring influence and power that is essentially needed to effect the desired changes. Both models are used to effect change in most organizations as they assist employees to align their organizational objectives thereby reducing resistance to the change factors (McNamara, 2008).
Leadership approaches and employee involvement in organizational change
Leadership is an integral process of Human resource management. It can be defined as the process by which an individual is endowed with the capacity to influence others to accomplish set objectives (McNamara 2008). Leadership is also a process through which an individual directs the organization in a manner that will make it more coherent, cohesive, and progressive. Through leadership attributes, values, beliefs, skills, knowledge, and character, leaders are charged with the process of spearheading change in an organization. For the process to be successful, the leadership of any organization must take the first step in trying to understand what the intended change entails, and relay the information to the employees.
In Transformational Leadership Theory, McNamara (2008) argues that leadership roles are learned and thus individuals can learn the roles involved to become leaders. The theory argues that individuals observe what their leaders do to know who they really are hence decide on whether to follow the directives of such a leader. Observation alone can effectively tell employees if their leader is self-serving or honorable and trusted. The theory suggests that self-serving leaders are less effective in spearheading the process of change as the employees would only obey their change policies rather than follow them. For the process of change to be successful, the leadership of any organization must therefore have an honorable character and be able to command respect from individuals down the hierarchy. Leaders must be ethical and posses a great sense of direction rooted in a strong vision for the future to be able to effectively guide the process of organizational change.
Going hand by hand with leadership approaches is employee involvement. Many organizational changes that fail to involve the employees are bound to fail. In this respect, many organizations involve their employees in the change process in different phases. In some organizations, employee involvement is done in the initial stages of drafting the change while in others; employees are only involved in the implementation phase (McNamara, 2008). Research has proved that organizations that involve their employees in the initial stages of the change process are often successful in directing the process than organizations who involve their employees only in the implementation process. However, employee involvement is crucially important for the process of organizational change to be successful.
It is the function of senior managers especially in the Human Resource Management to engage the employees in the process of change through asking for their contributions, fears, worries, and benefits of the intended changes. This can be done through holding of meetings and conferences, or through internal memos. The human resource function of the organization must therefore come up with management strategies that are bound to increase employee commitment and involvement to performance management and organizational objectives (Caroline, 2007). This will make the employees more flexible to the process of change thereby reducing resistance to the intended organizational change.
Issues of corporate social responsibility and organizational change
Organizations exist to serve individuals in the external environment. To make this environment much more sustainable, an alliance between the citizens, governments, and the organizations themselves must be in existence. For any process of change to be successful, stakeholders especially the human resource managers most effectively iron out issues of ecological sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) (Dunphy, Griffiths, & Benn, 2007). For the managers, any organizational change must focus its energies on achieving and sustaining competitive advantage over its competitors while at the same time empowering communities and customers to prosper and grow.
Admittedly, most organizational changes are successful when business managers carry the compulsion to consider the interests of their employees, customers, communities, shareholders, and the ecology at large. For organizational change to be successful, managers must also consider the environmental and social consequences of the change processes that they intend to introduce in the organization. Successful businesses have integrated corporate social responsibility into fundamental business processes, including change processes. In this regard, environmental and societal issues must be incorporated in good business strategy for the process of change to effectively take place in any organization. Responsible competitiveness of any organization must be tied to its CSR policies especially in corporate philanthropy (Dunphy, Griffiths, & Benn, 2007).
Managers especially in the Human Resource management must realize that they operate their business in an environment that is informed by various environmental, social, ecological as well as human factors. Any intended process of change must take into account all the above factors for it to be successful. The hospitality industry is especially affected by CSR as it deals with offering services to the people. Any activity in the hotel industry that degrades the environment is severely dealt with through the people’s refusal to use such a facility and therefore effectively pushing down sales revenues (Rathore, 2006). This can be reinforced by the way hotels that encourage game hunting are severely dealt with in countries that are against the practice. A hotel intending to introduce game hunting in such countries must thoroughly scrutinize the environmental regulations before venturing into the game.
In conclusion, McNamara (2008) sums up organizational change as a process involving wide-ranging changes in the organization as opposed to minute changes such as hiring an employee. Restructuring operations, introduction of new technologies, major collaborations, rightsizing or downsizing, introduction of Total Quality Management programs are all elements of organizational change. In many instances, organizational change is incited by external driving forces such as need for dramatic increases in productivity, cuts in funding, or need to address major new clients or markets. In this respect, leadership approaches, employees’ involvement, CSR, nature and causes of organizational change, HR strategy and implementation, and power influences are crucial factors in determining whether any intended organizational change will be a success or failure.
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