Organizational change refers a process through which an entity becomes different in certain ways, without permanently losing its characteristic elements. This process requires a lot of planning, good will and support from all organizational stakeholders.
Organizations participate in change as a way to improve quality, promote their corporate culture and achieve objectives. The process of implementing change in an organization involves eight crucial steps that ought to be followed in a systematic order.
When an organization understands the stages of leading change and the likely pitfalls, its chances of having a successful transformation are higher. Successful transformation gives an organization a competitive edge over its competitors in every market.
Stages of leading change
In the first step, a leader should conduct a market analysis to determine the level of competition, identify any obstacles, as well as potential opportunities. The leader should ensure that his or her superiors understand the need to take enough caution, keep motivation levels high and encourage people to take risks.
The second step involves forming a team of individuals that are passionate about effecting change. It is important to ensure that individuals selected have enough power to lead the effort. The team leader should encourage all members to work in unity and consider each other as equal entities working towards a common goal.
The third step involves the development of a vision that dictates the course of the process to effect change. At this stage, the leader should motivate all members to develop mechanisms of ensuring that the vision is fulfilled.
The fourth step involves telling everyone about the vision and the strategies that will be used to achieve it.
The fifth step involves empowering people to support the vision. This entails asking people to support the vision by changing their perceptions about traditional patterns, changing their course of actions and adapting a fresh thinking pattern. The leader should ensure that everyone approves the idea promoted by the vision for easier implementation of change.
The sixth step involves planning for and developing short-term goals. They should be easy to understand, quantifiable and achievable. Employees who do their best to achieve the goals should be rewarded.
The seventh step involves the identification and elimination of obstacles undermining the vision. All organizational systems, structures and operations affecting the effective realization of the vision should be dealt with accordingly.
The eighth and final step involves the integration of new approaches with the organizational culture. The leaders should identify change agents that will be used to integrate the acquired elements with the existing ones. Leaders should also develop strategies of ensuring that future organizational processes conform with the newly acquired approaches.
Why transformation efforts fail
First, transformation efforts can fail terribly if organizational leaders ignore the need to create urgency. It is very hard to move people out of their comfort zones, especially when trying to introduce a new dimension in the way they are used to doing things. Lack of urgency makes people to be poor in taking and managing risks.
Inability to create a powerful and cohesive team can lead failure of transformation efforts. A team leader should be someone with some experience on planning and implementing change in an organization. Leadership roles should not be given to just anyone because they are available and willing to take responsibility.
Lack of a vision is another reason why transformation efforts often fail. Leaders should ensure that they develop a vision for their effort. It should be short, easy to comprehend and attainable.
Ineffective communication of the vision often influences the change effort in a negative manner. It is important to ensure that all people understand the vision and act in a manner that suggests they respect it.
Transformation efforts can fail if an organization ignores obstacles limiting the vision. The obstacles can either be certain elements of the organizational structure, decision-making process, corporate culture or even a few individuals against the impending change. It is important to identify and eliminate such obstacles.
Ignoring the need to plan for and create short-term goals can also compromise transformational efforts in an organization. It is no advisable for organizational leaders to implement change without goals to guide them in assessing progress. Goals should be developed at least twelve months into the process.
Experts argue that lack of patience in declaring success in implementing change can lead to failure of a transformational effort. Achieving the first goal does not necessarily mean that the others will fall into place automatically. It is important to take time in order to study any emerging trends and obstacles before declaring victory.
Finally, transformation efforts can fail if leaders decide to ignore the need to integrate changes with the organizational culture. It is important to ensure that the changes are consistent with the organizational culture. This will help in ensuring effective implementation of change.