Although Coca-Cola has outstanding HR practices that contribute to the company’s profitability, it has been identified that they can be further improved to match current trends in HR management. In particular, the firm should consider utilizing online recruitment, diversifying its workforce rather than hiring primarily locals, and developing a culture of self-awareness. In order to introduce these changes, the company may use Kotter’s 8-step change model that covers all stages of organizational change, ranging from establishing urgency to incorporating change into the corporate culture. This paper aims to discuss how each of the eight steps of Kotter’s model applies to Coca-Cola company and suggest a strategy of change management addressing each of these stages.
A Sense of Urgency
The first step in Kotter’s model is the establishment of a sense of urgency. This stage is intended to inform employees about the benefits of the change and encourage them to assist with change implementation (Hee and Shanmugam 524). This step applies to Coca-Cola company because its employees may be resistant to change given the fact that the firm’s current HR practices are effective. Therefore, they should be persuaded that the change is necessary to help the company remain competitive through the adoption of modern HR practices. In the company’s change management strategy, this step should be reflected by substantial communication efforts to inform employees about the need for change. The firm can send newsletters and conduct meetings to make employees aware of the benefits of new practices and how they will contribute to the company’s success.
Creating a Coalition
The second step in Kotter’s model is the creation of a coalition. It means that change should be led by a team with sufficient expertise in the field of change, as well as power and skills (Hee and Shanmugam 526). This stage applies to Coca-Cola because, for the organizational change to be implemented effectively and promptly, it has to be directed by a competent leadership team. In order to address this phase, the company’s change management strategy should include the creation of a leadership team. It should consist of people in the position of power, such as the CEO and the head of the HR department, and several competent HR managers who will assist in implementing change.
Vision and Strategy
The third step is the development of a vision and change strategy. According to Hee and Shanmugam, vision should reflect new HR initiatives and the desirable future that will be achieved through the change management plan (526). Strategy, in its turn, should be focused, energizing, and based on the key strengths of the leadership coalition (Hee and Shanmugam 526). This step applies to Coca-Cola because its employees should be aware of what the company is trying to attain and how it intends to do it. The firm should create a vision describing a clear picture of the company’s desired future, that is, a state-of-the-art company utilizing the most recent HR trends and valuing diversity in its workforce. The company’s strategy should include actions directed toward communicating the vision, implementing change, and incorporating the gains into the corporate culture.
Communicating the Vision
The fourth step in Kotter’s model is the communication of the vision. This should be done in a comprehensible way to facilitate the employees’ buy-in (Hee and Shanmugam 524). This stage is crucial for Coca-Cola because it helps to cope with resistance, which, according to the research, is the most frequent reason for failure in implementing change (Hee and Shanmugam 526). The company should develop materials with information about why change is necessary, when and where it should be completed, who is responsible for its implementation, and how different employees within the organization will be affected. This information should be communicated through multiple channels, including e-mail newsletters, personal meetings, corporate blogs, and modern means of communication such as Slack.
The fifth step of the model involves empowering the broad-based action. At this stage, the coalition removes any obstacles and barriers to change and provides support to employees to help them implement change (Hee and Shanmugam 526). Coca-Cola needs to incorporate this step into its change management strategy to ensure that the change process runs smoothly and employees are motivated to proceed with implementing change. To address this stage, the company’s HR managers should develop a survey for employees to identify any challenges faced during the change strategy implementation. Further, the firm’s leadership team should provide employees with professional training to help them meet the changing requirements and ensure that employees have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do.
The sixth step includes generating short-term accomplishments to help the organization remain engaged in the change process. An important part of this stage is making these short-term successes visible in the organization to boost employees’ motivation (Hee and Shanmugam 524). This step is crucial for Coca-Cola because, without any visible successes, employees will be likely to revert to old HR practices. In order to address this stage in its strategy, the company can focus on such wins as the number of candidates obtained through online recruitment practices or the number of local candidates recruited in countries other than the US. Whenever the HR department shows positive results in these measures, the company should make these achievements apparent by discussing them at meetings and including them in newsletters and the corporate blog.
Producing More Change
The seventh step in Kotter’s model is consolidating gains and generating more change. According to Hee and Shanmugam, the main activity at this stage is the development of new goals, building on the achievements made, in order to ensure the organization keeps moving with the change process (526). This phase is important for Coca-Cola because it will allow new HR practices to become integrated into the company’s strategy and will prevent the HR department from backsliding into the old state. At this stage, the firm may increase the targets for online recruitment and workforce diversity to enhance HR managers’ commitment to new practices.
The final step in the change model is anchoring new practices in the organizational culture. Frequent communication is key at this stage because it helps focus attention on the outcomes of change and make the change permanent (Hee and Shanmugam 526). This phase applies to Coca-Cola because the company will have to graft new approaches onto the existing cultural values of the personnel. For this process to be successful, the leadership will need to maintain continuous communication with employees, linking the company’s successes to new HR practices. Further, HR managers should not only proceed with applying new hiring methods but also select candidates who appreciate the new organizational culture.
Kotter’s change model provides a framework that can help Coca-Cola adopt new HR practices, namely, online recruitment, increased workforce diversity, and the culture of self-awareness. A competent leadership team is crucial for the successful implementation of change. Its members should be in a position of power and be able to communicate effectively to cope with employees’ resistance to change and provide the necessary support throughout the process of change.
Hee, Ong Choon, and Nanthinee Shanmugam. “A Review of Human Resource Change Management Strategies in the Digital Era.” International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 9, no. 3, 2019, pp. 521–531.