At a certain stage of development, most companies lose their efficiency and need changes in their organization. The change process needs a professional who is able to plan change with the practical application of theories and manage this process to achieve the best outcome. Thus, the report describes the experience of the change process for QICC to provide innovation and improvement.
The aim of this report is to assess the fundamental concepts of the change process applicable to the case under consideration. An external change agent executed the activities to improve QICC’s organizational effectiveness. The report evaluates the organizational development process and activities are taken for QICC.
The report includes the critical analysis of organizational development theory, revision of understanding of change, critical assessment of the change process executed in accordance with the plan, and analysis of resistance to change. Finally, conclusions are drawn, and recommendations for the case study are provided.
Organizational Development Theory
OD is an abbreviation of Organizational Development. Organizational development is strategies of behavioral science to make the effectiveness in an organization, which means change or improve the organization to increase work effectiveness (Waddell, Creed, Cummings, & Worley, 2017). It is divided into two areas, which are social action and scientific inquiry. Social action introduces ideas and new processes for a better future and attempts to change something that is wrong.
The scientific inquiry could find out the drawbacks in the organization by using evidence and use them to figure out the purpose of the change process. Many people can think organizational development is just changing something for the better, but OD is not limited to just changing something. As mentioned before, it is based on behavioral science that needs scientific inquiry. If there is no evidence about what is wrong, the change will not progress.
To sum up, organizational development always needs knowledge and skills. Therefore, in change management, an organization should apply theory to support the necessity of change. In fact, initial research can be conducted to assess the current situation and define the areas which need change. Knowledge and skills are necessary for the professional execution of the change management process. A well-planned and properly managed change process is expected to lead an organization to a better future.
Planned change is supported with some theories. These are, for example Lewin’s Three-Step Theory, Action Research or Positive Model, Social Cognitive theory, etc. (Kritsonis, 2005). One of the oldest theories defining the process of change is Lewin’s theory.
It presents the three-step change model. According to Lewin, “Driving forces facilitate change because they push employees in the desired direction. Restraining forces hinder change because they push employees in the opposite direction” (Kritsonis, 2005, p. 1).
Consequently, the proper balance of these forces will move the company to the planned change. The first step of Lewin’s theory is unfreezing. It is needed to reduce “the strains of individual resistance and group conformity” (Kritsonis, 2005, p. 2). Unfreezing can be fulfilled through the growth of the driving forces or contraction of the restraining ones. The second step of the theory of movement. Lewin suggests, “moving the target system to a new level of equilibrium” (Kritsonis, 2005, p. 2). Step three, introduced by Lewin, is refreezing. It provides the sustainability of the changes implemented. Lewin’s model is considered to be rational, oriented on goals and plans. However, it is criticized for simplicity and linear character (Shirley, 2013).
Understanding the Change
It is crucial to assess the current condition of the company to understand and plan the change. For QICC, a number of problems which negatively influence its development and sustainability were defined. One of the issues was in employees’ communication, particularly in situations of stress. It led to misunderstandings and decrease of efficiency. Some employees were more focused on the success of their group than that of the whole company. Managers became too strict with the staff.
Employees did not have an opportunity to make decisions and be responsible for their part of work. Moreover, some more experienced employees did not follow the policies of the company thus providing a bad example for the new staff members.
Thus, the planned change should consider the defined problems. As ab OD practitioner, I evaluated the condition of the company. The major focus was planned on the internal agents, i.e. organization members. For QICC, it was crucial to return trust in the collaboration of the staff, stimulate the openness of the workers, make them interested in successful problem-solving, and make them concerned of improvement of organization efficiency and increase of company’s performance.
Managing the Change Process
Change management is the way to achieve business excellence. Business excellence includes seven components which are leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, workforce focus, operations focus, and results (Vora, 2013). In the case of QICC, there were problems in all of those spheres. Thus, the environment, relationships, and strategic situation needed improvement. the company passed all stages of change management to achieve the desired results.
Entering and Contracting Activities
Entering into an OD relationship includes three stages. First of all, the organizational issue should be clarified. Secondly, it is necessary to determine the relevant client, and finally select an OD practitioner (Waddel et al., 2017). Thus, it was identified that QICC had problems with the staff (their relations and efficiency), company policies were not always followed, the employees were not informed on the career perspectives and thus not stimulated for the development.
The second stage is obvious; the client is the Quay International Convention Centre. As for the third stage, the choice of OD practitioner or change manager was fulfilled. I was selected for this responsible position and was aware of my duties. Pádár, Pataki, and Sebestyén (2017) examine managerial roles in the context of change and project management. They state that “Change agents have to plan the strategy and steps of the change implementation, be prepared for managing conflicts if they occur, be able to handle the targets’ reactions (often their resistance) to the change, etc.
In additon, agents have to be aware of the fact that during morphogenegtic changes people lack a sense of control over some important aspects of their lives and find themselves in a state of disequilibrium that is uncomfortable to endure (Pádár et al., 2017, p. 25). Change manager should work in a close contact with the company’s leader. The research by Abrell-Vogel and Rowold (2014) showed a meaningful positive influence of the transformational leadership behavior and leader’s commitment on the change process.
Diagnosing and Feeding Back Diagnostic Information
Diagnosing is crucial for the success of change management process. It presupposes collecting of data on the company which are analyzed and used for the planning of change. It is also important to evaluate the employee adaptivity to change (Bodla & Ningyu, 2017). It can be influenced trough HR practices. The ability of employees to adapt in different situations can influence their perception of change and low adaptivity usually leads to change resistance.
One of the factors influencing the success of the change process is readiness for change (Imran, Rehman, Aslam, & Bilal, 2016). The implementation of innovations and improving strategies will not be effective unless the company employees and management are ready for the change. We have conducted a survey among the employees as a part of the initial research to check of the staff is aware of the necessity of change. It revealed that more than three quarters of employees realized something was not working properly in their company and believed that changes would improve the situation. Thus, we concluded that employees demonstrated readiness for change and wiould support the steps we were going to suggest.
Feedback is one of the necessary components of organization change (Rothwell, Stavros, & Sullivan, 2016). It is important to know the attitude of the employees and their vision of change. The feedback in the case of QICC allowed application of adjustments to the plan and provision of improvements. Moreover, we believe that feedback reduced the rates of resistance to change.
Planning and Implementing Change
It should be mentioned that organizational changes determine the character of organizational routines, their dynamics and evolution (Stańczyk-Hugiet, Piórkowska, & Stańczyk, 2017). It is important since a greet part of employees’ activities in many companies are routines. Planning and implementing change can be concentrated on three levels (Burke, 2017). They are individual, group, and larger system.
For the case under discussion, more attention was concentrated on interventions aimed at individual and group level which in their turn determined the larger system level (Burke, 2017). Lee, Sharif, Scandura, and Kim (2017) studied the relationship between organizational change intensity and commitment to organizational change. The research revealed that changes in job security and organizational identity were among those that worry the employees most of all. These findings were considered in the planning of change interventions.
One of the strategies to solve the problem of inefficient teamwork was providing opportunities for workplace fun. The idea of workplace fun for better team performance was introduced by Han et al. (2016). The study revealed that workplace fun activities influenced the perception of the workplace as a fun place. Consequently, a fun work environment and various workplace fun activities were proved to be efficient for the formation of positive attitudes to work. For the process of planned change in QICC, s, the fun activities were not imposed by the company, but organized with the participation of the employees.
They included coffee-breaks with game activities, after-work meetings, and common weekends. It should be mentioned that the participation in these activities was voluntary and no punishment for not participation was suggested. Such workplace fun activities were also aimed at the increase of interpersonal trust among the employees. The environment of trust stimulates better work performance and provides the formation of the cooperative environment.
The employees were also participating in the implementation process. They did not only perform their duties according to the new plan, but could discuss the positive and negative impressions from the change in the live chat. I believe it was also a stress-reducing factor. The employees knew that their opinion was significant and in case they consider something inappropriate, they were able to change it.
The research by Øgaard, Marnburg and Larsen (2008) determines that in the industry (hospitality in that research) the employees with high-quality values demonstrate higher motivation in their work. They look for learning possibilities, and are interested in more open, organic organizational modes of companies where they will work. The model of the company would determine the personal commitment and influence their job satisfaction and performance.
In the choice of change strategies, attention should be payed to the group climate. The research (Schultz, Sjøvold, & Andre, 2017) proves that the type of group climate observed among the staff members indicates the readiness for the change. Interventions suggested in the change plan included meetings, trainings and other activities aimed at the successful team-building both during and after working hours.
Organizational change is always a stress for the company and employees. Smollan (2015) investigated the causes for stress before, during, and after organizational change. The research revealed that the stressful factors includes poor management of the change process, possible negative outcomes of the planned change for employees and the company in general, expected heavier workloads, redundancies and less favorable work conditions (Smollan, 2015).
As OD practitioner, I tried to consider these factors to reduce the stress of employees in the process of change. Since transition stage is considered to be the most stressful, it was planned more carefully. Fiat of all, the employees were constantly informed during the process of change. They knew the results of the initial research which proved the necessity of change and revealed the spheres which needed the most interference. Also, all the process was transparent.
Moreover, employees of all levels could participate in planning the change. We had a box for letters and notes and everyone was welcome to express their opinions on the issue. It was a decision which encouraged the employees and made them believe their opinion mattered. After the planning was over, the final version of the change algorithm was presented to the staff representatives. There was a week for discussion and modification of the plan.
Evaluating and Institutionalizing Change
The final stage of planned change is the evaluation of the change process and its institutionalizing (Waddel et al., 2017). It allowed us to assess the results of the change intervention and manage the institutionalization of the change programs. The feedback from employees provided an opportunity to evaluate the executed work and outline further perspectives. On the whole, the company’s staff evaluated the changes positively.
They were satisfied with the changes in the company’s policy concerning personal development and were happy with the opportunities of career development which became evident. One of the changes which received most positive feedback was attention to personal and work relations. Employees admitted the positive change in work climate and the increased motivation.
Institutionalization is necessary after the changes are evaluated and their efficiency is proved. It is important to maintain them for the sustainable development of the company. In the case of QICC, the implemented change interventions which appeared to be the most efficient were included into the company’s plan of strategic development and became part of daily routines.
Resistance to Change
Resistance is a common problem of any change. It is often treated as interference in the existing state of things and provokes negative reactions (Dawson, & Andriopoulos, 2014). Hayes (2014) suggests presenting rational arguments and technical evidence to persuade the employees in the necessity of change, educate them on the issue, and thus minimize resistance. Bridges and Bridges (2016) advise “not to overact to resistance and opposition” (p. 179). Resistance is a normal psychological reaction which should not be treated too harshly. However, it should not be under evaluated as well. Waddle et al. (2017) suggest minimum three main strategies to manage the resistance to change. They are empathy and support, communication, and participation and involvement.
In the planned change process in QICC, we attempted to use resistance as a source of useful information and not try to eliminate it. We applied all of the mentioned above strategies. Thus, the change group was always supportive and ready to listen to the employees and their worries concerning changes. The communication process was active during all stages of the process of change. Finally, the employees were active participants of change planning and implementation.
Their involvement was helpful and informative. We allowed the employees express their fears and show dissatisfaction. In addition to live chat communication concerning the negative aspects of innovations, every leader of the group could provide a rationale for rejecting this or that change. Administration was supposed to study every issue and provide the feedback. However, only some groups had objections to the changes and they were not radical.
Their ideas for improvements were also considered and implemented. It was a productive intervention because people who work directly on certain directions often have better ideas of how their groups and departments should function than any OD practitioner.
The strategies which were implemented to deal with the resistance to change proved to be effective. The involvement of the employees into the change process and the transparency of it made the changes less stressful. On the whole, the majority of the employees were positive about the changes and expected improvement and sustainability in the near future. The heads of departments and group leaders from the company who supported the change acted as promoters which reduces the existing resistance to minimum.
Conclusion and Recommendations
On the whole, the process of planned change for QICC can be considered successful. It improved attitudes to the company policy, resolved conflicts between senior employees and new staff members, increased the efficiency of communication both among the employees and with the clients. The company staff became an active participant of the change which also contributed to the effectiveness of planned change implementation.
Still, QICC needs some recommendations which will help to maintain the success after changes and outline the direction of further development. First of all, company should take care of employees’ satisfaction. The staff which is satisfied with the strategy of the company, its development, clearly set goals, motivated with worthy payment and bonuses will be more efficient in everyday routines. Secondly, employees need evident perspectives of development and opportunities for the career growth.
Thus, continuous education, career development trainings and justified promotions will stimulate the development of the employees which in its turn will positively influence the development of the company in general. Thirdly, the employees need to feel involved. It is important to attract staff representatives to the planning of company strategies and goals and establish the feedback mechanism. Finally, company strategies need to be reviewed on the regular basis.
Even perfectly structured, they lose the innovative character and become outdated. It can negatively influence the company’s efficiency and competitiveness in the market. Generally speaking, a successful company should monitor its problems and initiate the process of change in case of necessity.
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