Monday, August 3, 2009

Organisational Behaviour - Company Change

Organisational Change

Situation:

In the 6-months that I had been working on the company, employees in my division had rapidly dropped off. Either due to; disgruntled employees quitting, employees transferring to other divisions (or being promoted) or poor performance staff members being sacked, the division had suffered 100% staff turnover in the previous 12 months.

The issue had become severe due to the staff levels hitting an all time low, making the division’s one of the smallest in the firm’s 25 year history. This was an issue to 50% of the company’s revenue being generated within this division (however this was not looked into – as explained below).

Solution – Complete restructure of Divisions operations:

Due to the situation becoming obvious to the directors of the firm. Moves had to be made quickly.

It was assumed that staff were leaving due to poor management, so the management of the division was questioned. Promptly after this – of the 2 managers in charge of the division, 1 quit and the other downgraded himself to a lower level. This left a vacancy for a management position – which was filled by someone external to the company.

Due to this manager being completely new to not only the situation, but existing company strategy – it was found best to only train him on the proposed ‘new’ strategy for the division.

Once he had completed his induction in this training (approximately 2 months), he then was put in charge of the division, and attempted to enforce the new strategies and procedures. The result of this was a muddy combination of both old and new strategies, poorly followed by staff – who continued to leave the firm at an alarming rate.

Referenced into Lewin’s Model (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2009, p403)

Unfreezing:

Staff were leaving, and were becoming vocal that they required change to continue work in the company – but perhaps, their views on change, were not those held by higher levels?
When it came to the point when new systems were being put in place, there seemed to be a lack of communication between upper-level management (who were designing the system) and lower level staff (who were using the old system).

So this was a failure in the unfreezing process as different people had different issues with the system, and these issues were not laid out for all to see.

Had the unfreezing process been performed, management may have also induced some of the staff’s ideas into the new structures. Likewise, the staff would have been more accepting of the new strategies if they had ALL the negatives of the old ones pointed out to them. I realize now that while we had most pieces of the puzzle, we did not have all of them.

Changing:

You cannot say the changing stage was a failure. In the end of the day – the policies and procedures within this division did change. However, due to changes being enforced almost via word of mouth down the chain-of-command, the change process was not very effective.

It was also found that since the change was attempted on all sections and fronts at once, that the whole division took a while to actively attempt the change. This directly affected the company’s revenue over this period – and an effect on this was that no future changing of the company would exceed a certain scale at one time, directly changing the whole company rather than 1 division.

The end resulting change, was ineffective as not only did it not sway the company enough to become efficient again, it also did not solve the initial problems successfully.


Refreezing:

When the proposed change was implemented, staff were rewarded when they introduced it into their day-to-day routine. However these rewards were usually seen by me and other staff members as very cheap “pat-on-the-back”, with no substance.

This is most likely why the new changes were merged into the existing procedures – which were more natural to most of the staff members.

It was also hard to find out if the new changes were being performed correctly, as it was poorly documented, and usually shown via the chain of command. Leaving the view of a correctly performed task, in the perspective of those who taught it rather than created it.

Result:

I continued to work, very successfully for the firm against all odds for another 9 months. Getting myself promoted through the ranks that fell to wayside. The new manager of the division was held critically accountable for the failure to implement the new strategies; his notice of resignation was handed in soon after. I left after I had seen that the company was continuing the “cycle of restructure” that past employees had informed me to.

References:

Kiniki, A, & Kreitner, R,. (2009). Organization Behaviour: Key Concepts, skills & best practices.

N.Y. USA : McGraw-Hill/Irwin


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