The presentation relates to The Gallery, a cafeteria, which was initially functioning as a subsidized staff canteen serving lunch to the employees of a large international shipping company. Circumstances have brought about a change in the functioning of the company. The presentation attempts to study from a change management point of view, how the change in the environment of the business can be turned around so that it works out to be beneficial to the organization. The study attempts to find out the sources and the nature of the conflict that has arisen in The Gallery and attempts to bring out a strategy in employee relations to address the issues and avoid conflict that may arise owing to cost control measures taken by the management.
About the company
The Gallery” is a 150-seat canteen-style restaurant on the top floor of an office block. The block initially housed the employees of a large international shipping company, and “The Gallery” was a subsidized staff canteen serving meals and snacks to employees. They also provided buffet lunches for staff functions. Owing to international competition and recession, the shipping company declined in size and occupied only a single floor in the building. The rest of the building was let out to various small companies. Gallery continued to operate serving the new employees as well. And later it was sold out to Lunchbox UK ltd a catering company. The area where the office building was situated was a Semi-derelict dockland area earmarked for substantial development.
The change in a scenario
The area underwent a tremendous change. More office buildings came up, private apartment buildings came up and all these led to the opening of three new chain restaurants and two pubs within ten minutes walk of the building where The Gallery is situated. The people working in the building now chose to eat out during lunchtime. The Gallery was thus having a dip in its profits. The employees are finding it hard to cope up with the new person who has taken charge instead of the manageress who retired. The resistance offered by the employees can be attributed to two factors; firstly, to most of the employees Jennie Taylor is younger than them and secondly, there is a determination on her part to force the pace of change. This determination is met with resistance on the part of the employees. Jennie had put forward a number of initiatives that were not welcomed by the chefs and the waiting staff alike.
Jennie decided to abolish the morning coffee/smoking break and she also decided against replacing two members of the staff who were shifted to other catering operations that were run by Lunchbox UK. The discontent among the employees towards the new manager has resulted in higher rates of absence, late comings, untidy dress, and even lack of politeness towards customers and colleagues on certain occasions. All the employees of The Gallery are members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and more blatant forms of actions have been contemplated upon. Owing to the poor financial performance of The Gallery, Lunchbox UK, has directed Jennie to reduce the total wage bill by 5% over the next six months.
Factors that cause change
Change is an inevitable process. “Change, although externally may appear to be about changing jobs, places, products, etc” (Change management 2002). Nature of the workforce, technology, economic shocks, competition, social trends world politics are some of the factors that influence and bring about a change. The factors that influence or bring about change in an organization can either be a crisis, change in leadership, a particular stage in the life-cycle of the organization, its size, its age, and the current culture. “The employee does not have a responsibility to manage change – the employee’s responsibility is no other than to do their best, which is different for every person and depends on a wide variety of factors” (Change management 2009).
The concept of change management
“Change management is a systemic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level. A somewhat ambiguous term, change management has at least three different aspects, including adapting, to change, controlling change, and effecting change” (Change management 2008).
“Change management is the process of developing a planned approach to change in an organization. Typically the objective is to maximize the collective benefits to all people involved in the change and minimize the risk of failure of implementing the change. The discipline of change management deals primarily with the human aspect of change and is therefore related to pure and industrial psychology” (Change management n.d., p.1).
Change management can be termed as a structured way of transforming the organization from the present state of affairs to the desired state. “Change Management is aimed at anyone who wants to begin to understand why change happens and what needs to be done to make change a more welcoming concept” (Green & Camernon 2004, p.2).
The execution of the change would be in accordance with a preset plan.
Necessary adjustments can be made to the present plan in order to make the change effective. “Change management seems to be approached as if it were a one-time transition process intended to take the organization from one steady-state to another steady-state” (Gumpert n.d., p.1).
The business environment would keep on changing for a business organization. In the perspective of the organization, change management would comprise of identifying the changes (whether it be technological or procedural), and implementing the same so as to gain profit. “Change management can be of varying scope, from continuous improvement, which involves small ongoing changes to existing processes, to radical and substantial change involving organizational strategy” (Business definition for Change management
2010). Being able to adapt to the change in a proper way is very essential for the existence of the organization. Change in the business environment cannot be controlled. The only way for an organization to succeed in a changing environment is to adapt to the change effectively. “A change management parable that deals with the problems and issues surrounding organizational change”.
Change management is important in almost all working environments. There are certain principles that have to be kept in mind when change is being managed. They can be listed as given below.
“Different people react differently to change. Everyone has fundamental needs that have to be met. Change often involves a loss, and people go through the “loss curve”
Expectations need to be managed realistically.
Fears have to be dealt with” (Change management: Five basic principles, and how to apply them 1995).
The source of conflict in The Gallery
The resistance offered by the employees can be attributed to two factors; firstly, to most of the employees Jennie Taylor is younger than them and secondly, there is a determination on her part to force the pace of change. “When existing conflicts manifest themselves in the workplace, their points of origin are seldom as obvious as the symptoms. Usually, the symptoms are obvious. It is easy to recognize an undesirable behavior or attitude, but not as easy to identify where the conflict was born. Resolving conflict, in the truest sense, means identifying and focusing on the conflict source and not just the symptoms”.
Forcing a change will always be met with resistance on the part of the employees.
“Change, through choice, concerns achieving a desirable future state of affairs and can be regarded as an ever-present feature of organizational life”.
A leader or manager has got to follow certain principles while initiating a change in the organization. Initiating a change would involve thoughtful planning and implementation. But these two alone would not suffice. It should be done with the consultation and involvement of the people who are affected by the change. In the case of The Gallery, this has not happened. “Change must be realistic, achievable, and measurable. These aspects are especially relevant to managing personal change” Change management 2009). Before initiating a change the manager should be asking certain questions:
- what has to be achieved with the change?
- What will denote that the change has been achieved?
- Who will be affected by the change and how would they react to it?
How much of the change can be achieved by themselves and for what percentage of change do they need help? Whether it be a matter of personal change or organizational change, these aspects are strongly related. “In organizations, there are often two types of work. There is a normal delivery process where the main business of the organization is done. Then there are the change activities, whereby the necessary change is made to the business and the way it is done.”
Source of potential conflict
On one hand, there is already resistance towards the new manager on the part of the employees and on the other hand Lunchbox, UK has instructed Jennie, the manager to reduce the total wage bill by 5% over the next six months. This is a source of potential conflict. All the initiatives brought forth by Jennie, have been met with resistance, and reducing the wage bill will further increase the amount of resistance offered. The task at the hand of the manager is to break down the resistance shown to the change on the part of the employees. This can be achieved only if the relationship that Jennie has with the employees is straightened out.
The procedure of transform:
Communication is a key principle for the happening of change. This helps to keep the people fully informed at every step of the change. “Involving people in change usually means little more than getting them together to deliver the latest messages” (McCrimmon 2008). What actually means by this is a deep level of rendezvous. The best managers always use excellent skills to make a specific change in the organization by facilitating new tactics.
Bosses of the organization always have a belief that people under him need to do what they are advised to do. In order to facilitate this, it requires training and motivation for the people in order to implement a change in the organization and in their performance. From various kinds of experiences that gain from schools made to believe “that skills, knowledge, and expectations are imposed on or ‘put into’ by teachers, and later, by managers and bosses in the workplace” (Organizational Change 2009).
It is not possible to impose new skills and change. This would not have the required effect, or rather it would not work. An attempt must be made to involve the employees in the change process. The change process should not be done as a top-down process, but it should be done with the participation of the employees by taking suggestions from them..” Change can quite simply produce resistance! Resistance is the process of avoiding change. It can take many forms. Many of our users have reported just such resistance, and this is normal.” In this particular case the Jenny had a determination to force the pace of change. It is a very ineffective way of dealing with people who offer resistance. The harder a person tries to enforce the pace of change, the greater will be the resistance. A better strategy that can be adopted is by ensuring the participation of the employees at The Gallery. If the employees are asked to list out the benefits of the change setting aside their objections, it would be easier for them to bring about the change. People offer less resistance to change if the benefits of the change are put in their own words. It is imperative that the mindset of the people is turned around to accept the change. This can be achieved by encouraging them to achieve the day’s responsibilities and also making them realize that by helping to create the future of the organization and thereby they are creating their future too.. Workers at all levels must act as a change agent.” Having innovative ideas and understanding the change process is not the same thing. Indeed, the case can be made that those firmly committed to their own ideas are not necessarily good change agents because being a change agent involves getting a commitment from others who might not like one’s ideas.
There are certain methods that can be used to handle resistance. One would be facilitation, where you work with the employees and help them achieve the goal. This method can be adopted when the people are willing to cooperate, but they are finding it difficult to adjust to the change. In the present case, we can see that most of the people are reluctant to comply since they find it hard to adjust to the new manager.
In such cases, more stringent measures can be used. They are:
Compromise: When another person is not willing to corporate then it is our duty to make them corporate. Always seek what the other person is intended for. Find out the dislike of the person. Always work out for a mutually agreeable clarification. “Management Negotiation Skills develops the skills participants need to become that negotiator. Whether allocating resources for a project, funding a new initiative, or establishing a supply chain for a new product a negotiation is inevitably at the center of the process”.
Manipulation: This particular measure should be considered only change is required for the short term, and all the other alternatives have been investigated. “Human resource manipulation is nothing more than a ‘covert form of employee manipulation dressed up as mutuality”.
Reassessing human resource management By Paul Blyton, Peter Turnbull (pg no 28 ….first Para 14 line)
Coercion: “Even more extreme than subtle manipulation is overt coercion. This is where you sit them down and make overt threats, for example, that if they do not comply that they will lose their jobs, perhaps in a humiliating and public sacking. ” (Dealing with resistance 2010). This must be used only when a fast solution is needed.
Applying Kotter’s model would be helpful to bring about the change. The model can be worked out in eight steps. Let us examine these eight steps. Firstly, there must be promptness on the part of the management to initiate the change. This means that the necessity for the change should be properly communicated to the employees, and it should be made clear to them that the change will not affect their jobs in a negative manner. Once proper communication has been made, a group should be constituted; this team should be in charge of bringing about the change. The members of the group must be from among the employees, and they should be able to have an influence on the other employees. Determine what positive effects the change will have on the company and the people working there. Once a clear picture has been obtained pass it on to the employees so that they also understand it fully follow up activities can be done by the group in charge. The employees should be given the necessary authority to implement the change. Guidelines for implementing the change should be common for both the management and the employees. Short-term objectives or targets to be achieved have to be set and given to the employees. They can be individual and group targets. By showing the progress, the employees can be assisted in accepting the change. Seventh comes persistence. We should be able to make more change even after achieving the short-term goals, or else the initial plan for change would cease to exist. In the final step, the change has to be made permanent. This can be achieved by fitting it into the culture and practices of the company.
Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model is a simple model. The model helps to prepare the employees, which would make the transition much easier in the long run. When compared to the other models, this model has got lesser disadvantages. These factors make it more suitable for The Gallery to adopt the model.
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