Organizational development and change represent the professional fields of social action and scientific inquiry areas that cover a broad range of processes and areas that may facilitate the improvement within organizations. Change is a multi-dimensional aspect that is being interwoven in the professional life and influences the physical environment, how organizations are structured, how they conduct their business, which political and socioeconomic problems should be addressed, as well as how to adhere to societal norms and values. Therefore, change may often appear randomly and frequently, which means that it is essential to be aware of its potential influence on organizations and their performance. The topic of the role of organizational development and change is highly relevant in the modern context due to the increased integration of society and the need to adapt to the changing environments that have a direct impact on how organizations operate and whether they can be successful and competitive.
Organizational Development and Change
Organizational development (OD) refers to the field of study that addresses the concept of change and its influence on organizations and individuals working within them (Rothwell, Stavros, & Sullivan, 2016). Through incorporating effective OD, the management of companies can be more effective in facilitating change and coping with the challenges that will come along the way. Strategies can be developed for introducing planned change to improve the functioning of organizations, such as team-building efforts, adjustments in corporate culture, the modifications of the physical environment at companies, and others. While change is inevitable, there are different ways in which organizations will address it, some of them are useful, and some are not. Thus, the main goal of successful OD is to help organizations deal with the turbulent times associated with change, both internally and externally.
Efforts targeted at enhancing organizational development, whether brought by the expertise of outside professionals or having been institutionalized at companies and conducted regularly, facilitate change within teams and organizations in which they work. However, there are multiple forms that change will take as it can be both planned and unplanned, as well as occur in any dimension of an organization. For example, planned change implies the management of companies making a conscious and diligent effort intended to reach the desired outcome. Once the leaders in organizations commit to planned change, they are expected to develop a logical step-by-step approach aimed at accomplishing the established objectives (Ejimabo, 2015). Planned change has eight distinct steps that will guide organizations on their way to making a shift in the existing processes. In particular, the first step is recognizing the need for change, which can occur at any level of a company and in regards to either internal or external forces (Ejimabo, 2015). After the need has been identified, the management of an organization must develop specific goals of the change, which are based on the assessment of opportunities and limitations related to the change process.
Within the planned change process, managers should evaluate the current environment at an organization by gathering relevant data and help workers prepare for the changes that are going to occur. Preparing for change is a complicated process in itself because it implies overcoming the negative feedback that will be exhibited by workers as well as sensitizing them to the forces of change that will inevitably occur. After such an assessment is completed, it is recommended to select a change implementation method that will support organizational development. This method should align with the needs and the capabilities of an organization while also accounting for the different perspectives and views on the issue at hand. The development and implementation of a change plan are two critical steps that will define the success of a proposed change overall. It is essential to determine the specific processes of change that will impact organizational performance and delegate responsibility for the attainment of relevant goals and objectives. Maintaining momentum within a change implementation is possible through the development of new skills and competencies, the reinforcement of positive behaviors, as well as building support for change. Determining whether a change has been successful is necessary for making relevant adjustments that would make the organizational development more effective. In the end, the process of change should entail the emergence of positive results.
Leading and Managing Organizational Development and Change
Leading and managing organizational development and change are processes that are detrimental for successfully integrating positive practices at organizations. However, many managers tend to dismiss the importance of good change leadership and produce ‘quick fixes’ that are accompanied by the lack of awareness of the practical tools and techniques that would facilitate change. The experiences of such organizations as Microsoft, American Healthways, and JP Morgan Chase have pointed to the existence of good practices that reinforce a positive environment during change implementation (Worlry & Vick, 2005). For example, it is essential not to harm when carrying out a change process. This is possible through developing a comprehensive vision of the whole organization as a system to determine the fundamental limitations and tensions that should be addressed. JP Morgan Chase has decided to invest more resources, energy, and time into aligning their change strategy with the existing systems and procedures to create less tension and make the change more seamless.
Another positive practice is associated with connecting change to the business strategy of organizations. It implies that change should be pursued in the context of a clear organizational goal that would positively influence the personal, group, and company components. Consistency is highly valuable for the organization, and implementing change before it is needed is a road to failure. To connect change to the business strategy of an organization, Microsoft has continuously been updating its structure on a regular basis (Worlry & Vick, 2005). This allows the company to understand the process of change and the details involved in it for making structural changes effectively and with minimal losses (Economy, 2015). Organizations that contemplate implementing change must ensure that their members understand the strategy that is being carried out. Besides, the leaders of change are responsible for consistently communicating the proposed change within the context of their organizational needs to see the connection between the personal efforts of employees and their impact on the ultimate business results.
Finally, leading change at an organization means involving the participants of the process into the discussion about the limitations and the benefits of change. Their involvement is expected to breed commitment to effective organizational development (Waddell, Creed, Cummings, & Worley, 2019). In Western organizations, which are characterized by a high level of individualism, managers that fail to involve their workers in the decision-making run the risk of stalled efforts of change. While involvement is a complicated process and requires some time to carry out, the costs of a failed change process are much higher and present more challenges for companies. At a large organization, it is possible to have multiple small victories because the management has reached out to their subordinates to work together and make change happen.
Overcoming Resistance to Change
Organizational performance may be highly limited by organizational development and change processes because of one significant barrier. This barrier is resistance to change, which is a basic human behavior that emerges when the methods and customs that have previously remained a constant shift. To avoid the adverse influence of resistance to change on the performance of organizations, managers should understand the reasons behind the limitation and address them accordingly (Schweiger, Stouten, & Bleijenbergh, 2018). There are several categories characterizing such a resistance, and managers and organizational leaders must identify them in the context of the change process. For example, workers may find change inconvenient because it prevents them from proceeding to the usual way in which they have been completing their tasks and fulfilling responsibilities (Waddell et al., 2019). Another reason why employees resist change refers to introducing the alteration in their duties, influence, and powers. Hence, those workers who will be affected by the change negatively, are more likely to resist. Finally, individuals who are dedicated to maintaining the customs at their organizations instead of taking risks through change implementation will resist any adjustments. Often this occurs to workers who lack creativity or have insecurities regarding their capabilities to perform well in new contexts and environments.
Helping workers overcome resistance to change is the responsibility of managers who want the organizational performance to meet expectations. First, managers should convince that change that is being proposed is necessary for the organization at hand. This implied demonstrating how the change itself will benefit a company overall and employees separately. Second, the leaders of organizations should consider several important aspects to address change resistance. For instance, it is imperative to understand that changes should not take place at once and require being broken down into separate steps (Iveroth & Hellencreutz, 2016). Also, changes should never cause security issues for employees, whose opinions and perspectives should be taken into consideration by managers. Also, if organizational leaders act as examples through initially adapting to the changes themselves, resistance is less likely to happen because workers will feel secure about the change.
Overall, organizational development and change lead to shifts in the performance of companies. Facilitating change at organizations is imperative for adjusting to the shifting business trends and strengthening the capabilities of employees in being effective and valuable. However, both organizational development and change lead to significant challenges for companies, which can range from change resistance to limitations in development and change leadership. In order for the performance of organizations to increase as a result of the change, it is crucial for managers and leaders to have a cohesive plan of change, the outcomes of which will be evaluated. Based on the results of such an evaluation, it is possible to make conclusions on the further adjustments that should be implemented to enhance organizational performance.
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