Friday, November 2, 2007

How to Impact Organizational Change through Integrating People, Processes and Technology

Detailed by Dr. Walter McCollum

Businesses examining their operations and which seek to transform their enterprise performance turn to the expert resources available from Dr. Walter McCollum, a seasoned a certified Organizational Development Consultant with more than 20 years of professional experience. His book, Applied Change Management: Approaches to Organizational Change and Transformation, presents and compares several influential theories of organizational development and change management in practice today. The major theories of organizational development are delineated, with emphasis on the strengths and weaknesses of these theories relative to change management and transformation. Dr. McCollum presents a comprehensive assessment of theories and their role in transforming the present day organizations in the applied management context.

Applied Change Management locates change management strategies and practices within the broader context of becoming familiar with the unique organizational culture of one's own organization. Dr. McCollum defines change in general and in an organizational setting before addressing the importance of change management skills in organizations and the ability of managers to recognize how they themselves react to change. The examples of actual management experiences provide practical advice within the context of cited research to help the reader identify problem-solving techniques including assessment models in an organizational and information environment.

Organizational development and transformation consultants, academicians, organizational leaders, students, and researchers find the book usefel in their quest to influence organizational change. Applied Change Management: Approaches to Organizational Change and Transformation is now available from www.mccollumenterprisesllc.com, www.amazon.com, www.borders.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Dr. Walter R. McCollum, who is ISO 9001 Certified and whose specialty is change management in areas as diverse as information technology, telecommunications, human resources, and non-profit, is an accomplished author of the books "Process Improvement in Quality Management Systems: Case Study of Carnegie Mellon's Capability Maturity Model" and "Applied Change Management: Approaches to Organizational Change and Transformation."

His change management-related project/program roles has been experienced at an extended range pf agencies and companies - from the Department of Defense (DoD), Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines to Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Department of Treasury, Proctor and Gamble, and Pfizer. He has worked at top companies such as Lucent Technologies, Booz Allen & Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Science Application International Corporation (SAIC), and Capgemini.

10 tips for dealing with change in the workplace

Date: October 22nd, 2007
Author: Calvin Sun


10-megabyte hard disks… DOS… 5 1/4-inch floppy drives….The technology of the 1980s and 1990s bears almost no resemblance to what we have today. In the same way, our jobs and organizations probably bear little resemblance to that time. Companies reduce their staffs, outsource their operations, rearrange their organizational structure, and upgrade their platforms and tools. Dealing with all of this change can be daunting. Yet being able to do so is vital to your career.

As I began to think about tips I could share on handling change, I realized that reactions to those changes mirror the reactions to the death of a loved one. In particular, I kept thinking about a tragedy that struck a south Texas family I met whose young son Ivan had been killed in an accident, and the amazing way they dealt with it. Their actions helped me put together the following tips on dealing with change.


#1: Recognize that change does happen
When we were children, as the saying goes, we thought, acted, and spoke like children. When we became adults, though, we put childish ways behind us. Our own personal lives change as we grow older. Why should our careers and jobs be any different? Denying that change is or will be occurring, and continuing to live in the past (something my daughters allege about me), only makes things more difficult.

When I teach classes on customer service, I emphasize the importance of setting and managing the expectations of the customer. That principle applies to us personally as well. The more we understand that change will happen, the less upset and surprised we will be when we encounter that change.
#2: Be aware of your surroundings
In his classic work The Art of War, author and military strategist Sun Tzu wrote about the importance of observing signs of the enemy. For example, he wrote that movement among trees in a forest indicated that the enemy is advancing, and that dust that rose in a high column indicated the approach of chariots.
Few armies fight with chariots these days, but the principles Sun Tzu wrote about apply just as much to your job situation. Recognizing that change happens is desirable. It’s even better, though, to recognize when change might be occurring in your own specific situation. Keep alert to subtle clues. For example, are you being excluded from important meetings? Does your boss seem more distant? Is the rumor mill engaged?
#3: Recognize the stages
Because reactions to organizational change resemble those to the death of a loved one, many studies on change cite the work of psychologist Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, who identified several specific stages in the latter. The early stages include shock and denial (refusing to believe what has happened and instead believing everything will be all right), guilt (at not having done or said more or for not being the decedent), and anger (at the decedent or at God).Later, one passes through the stages of acceptance (acknowledging what has happened) and moving on.

With respect to organizational change, an additional “negotiations” stage can occur, in which the affected person offers to work harder as a way of preventing or forestalling the change.

All the stages don’t necessarily occur. The progression might not be a smooth linear one, and different amounts of time may be involved with the different stages. Regardless, the quicker you get to the acceptance and moving on stages, the better it will be for you.

#4: Communicate with others
Communications is always important, but especially so when you face change. A lack of communications from others can have a negative impact, while effective communications can have a positive one. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, you need details about the change, so that you can determine how it affects you. Don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen. Talk to your boss, your boss’s boss, and your co-workers to get their understanding. When dealing with co-workers, however, be aware that news can be distorted and can be mixed with rumor.
Part of the fear of change involves dealing with the unknown. If possible, try to minimize this factor by talking to others who have undergone such a change. What difficulties did they experience and how did they deal with them? How can you adapt their experiences to your own situation? As the philosopher Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Your communications should involve more than just people in your own department or company. They should involve people in other companies as well. They might have experienced the same change, so their advice has value. They might also serve as contacts should you decide to change jobs.
#5: Do a self assessment
Companies, in planning for the future, often conduct an analysis for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). That type of SWOT analysis can be just as helpful to you. What skills and strengths do you have? Where do you need to improve? By understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing as much as you can about the new situation, you have a better chance of finding a place to fit in.
#6: Be flexible
Change requires flexibility. The better able you are to adapt to change, the greater your chances of being successful. After you complete your self-assessment, take a look at the requirements of the new situation. Maybe your current job doesn’t fit exactly into it. However, what skills, from your old role, can you apply to the new situation? In other words, instead of focusing on differences, focus on similarities.
Suppose you were a football coach at a university. One day the president told you the football program was going away, and you would either have to coach basketball (something you never did before) or leave the university.
How would you react if you wanted to stay? Football and basketball have important differences, in number of players, size of playing area, and shape of ball. However, they also have similarities. In both sports, you want to outscore the opponent. In both, a coach must motivate players to achieve peak performance and must deal when necessary with discipline issues. In both, strategy, planning, and preparation are vital to success. If you wanted to make this change successful, you would look at the similarities and leverage existing knowledge. You’d then recognize shortcomings (e.g., lack of coaching experience in or knowledge of basketball) and make appropriate plans to address them.
Think in the same way about how you can adapt your own skills to the new environment.
#7: Continue to do your work
I’ve been through reorganizations, and they’re no fun. Regardless, resist if you can the temptation to just sit there. It’s easy to have that attitude, because you don’t know if your work is going to mean anything tomorrow or the next week. Still, you’re being paid to work, so try to do so. Furthermore, that attitude could impress a future boss.
#8: Be positive in actions and attitude
I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna, but keeping a positive attitude can help you deal with the uncertainties of change. For example, instead of worrying about changes you will have to make, focus instead on how you can leverage your existing skills and experience, as in the example of the football-turned-basketball coach. Looking for opportunities in the new organization, and becoming involved, will hasten your adjustment.
#9: Maintain your network
Your network of contacts, both inside and outside your company, can serve a valuable function. They can share with you their own experiences of change and tell you of job opportunities. More important, they can be a sounding board for your ideas and share with you their emotions about the change.
Build your network by keeping in touch with school and college classmates, former co-workers, bosses, and subordinates and by meeting colleagues at conferences and conventions.
#10: See the big picture
We discussed the example of the football coach who had to become a basketball coach. That person has a better chance of success by looking not at the small picture, i.e., specific differences between the sports, but rather at their similarities as athletic activities.
Change can be frightening, and disruptive. However, with the right attitude and actions, you can find opportunities in that change.

Calvin Sun works with organizations in the areas of customer service, communications, and leadership. In addition to writing this column, he contributes to TechRepublic’s Help Desk Blog. You can contact him at csun@calvinsun.com.

Fight or Flight: How Employees Cope with Organizational Change

In a global marketplace, change isn't just good. For many companies, says Angelo Kinicki, it's necessary.

"Why are organizations going through change?" says Kinicki, professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. "Simple. Globalization. International competition. The spread of information technology. All of these factors have escalated competition and the need to change in order to maintain competitive advantage. Organizations have to be faster, more responsive, and produce higher quality. All told, there is more pressure than ever, on everyone, to be able to change."

Many top executives understand this. What they don't understand, says Kinicki, is that managerial changes viewed as good and necessary can be seen by employees as intimidating and even terrifying. But when companies don't take this into account, and force changes that employees aren't prepared to handle, those companies risk alienating their workers, losing money and, in the end, seeing those great strategic changes fall flat.

"Everyone should be interested in change," Kinicki explains. "The focus of our research is to examine the process by which your employees cope with these changes so that managers can more effectively implement organizational change.


Change impacts psyche and performance

Kinicki explores these issues in a new paper, soon to be published in Personnel Psychology, entitled "Employee Coping with Organizational Change: An Examination of Alternative Theoretical Perspectives and Models." His co-authors are Mel Fugate of the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University and Gregory E. Prussia of Seattle University.

In their study, the authors examined the effect of organizational change on workers in a large government office, and found that significant change greatly impacted both the psyche and performance of employees. The lesson of the work, the team says, is that when managers push through changes too quickly, without keeping employees in the loop, they may soon see employee performance drop -- or even lose those workers altogether.

"Managers must do what they can to apprise their workers of what's going on in the work environment," Kinicki says. "Managers have to focus on the positive aspects of what [the company] is doing, how they're doing it, and what effect that will have on people. Because when people perceive these changes negatively, they will try to escape. That escape will lead to negative emotions, and before you know it, they may want to quit."

The researchers conducted their study at a large government office undergoing major organizational change.

Among the most significant changes was the hiring of a new top administrator who brought along a strong record of achievement -- a record, the researchers note, that "starkly contrasted with the previous top administrator, who did little besides preserve the status quo." Other changes at the office included the restructuring of the management team, the creation of 17 new supervisory positions, and new schedules, duties and responsibilities for workers all down the organizational ladder.

The changes were extensive enough to affect each and every employee in the office.

"This was a government agency going through major change," Kinicki explains. "When people hear 'restructuring,' they're going to think that management is going to start getting rid of people. Employees are going to be on pins and needles. But at the same time, management is saying, 'We've got to pick up the workload.' So people are stressed, and the question we asked was: How do they cope with this?"

To find the answer, Kinicki and his colleagues polled 163 employees on their perceptions of those changes one month after the process began. The team also gathered company data tracking sick time and voluntary turnover for the entire 12-month transition period. The goal was to see how employees reacted, or coped, with the widespread changes in their workplace.

"We learned some interesting insights," Kinicki says. "We have a better understaning of how people coped with the stressors associated with organizational change. And based on what we learned about how they cope, we think we can help managers devise ways or techniques of reducing that stress."


Two kinds of coping: Taking control or making an escape

Broadly speaking, Kinicki says, workers handle change in one of two ways. Some turn to "control coping." Others resort to "escape coping." And it's those in the latter group that companies would be wise to keep an eye on.

As Kinicki explains, "control copers" meet their personal challenges head on. If a deadline is looming, these workers will put their head down and get the project done. In the realm of change, this set of employees may act quickly to get themselves on board with the new regime. Even if they harbor negative feelings about those changes, in other words, they don't run from them.

The same can't be said for those in the "escape coping" group. These are the workers, Kinicki says, who see a challenge looming ahead -- and then do whatever they can to avoid it.

"When these people have a deadline, they aren't trying to get it done," he says. "Instead, they're going for a walk in the park. They go out and drink too much. But when you avoid a challenge, it doesn't make it any better. You may feel better temporarily, but that escape coping just leads to more negative emotions later. These people may feel like they need to get away, but then that just leads them to feel guilty, and then they feel bad, and that leads to more pressure."

It also could make them hate their jobs.

As Kinicki's research showed, the employees who coped badly with organizational change were so strongly affected that they began to avoid work altogether. The data showed that the change process drove these workers to use more sick time, or quit, in order to run away from changes they perceived as problematic.

In the long term, that can cost companies a lot of money.

"We learned about some of the bad things that people do to cope with change," Kinicki says. "When people generate negative emotions about what is going on, they'll take more sick time. That costs money. And while we don't have any direct evidence for this yet, we believe a moderate percentage of those people taking sick time really aren't sick. They've just had enough -- or they're out looking for a new job."


Communicate, communicate, communicate

So how can managers avoid this? Simple, says Kinicki: "Communicate, communicate, communicate."

How employees react and cope with change is connected to the way they perceive, or "appraise," that change. So if managers can get employees on board with a change strategy early in the game -- before those workers have the chance to form their own negative opinion of it -- managers have a fighting chance of making those changes work.

"In life, stuff happens," Kinicki says. "What matters is not so much what that stuff is, objectively speaking, but what matters is how we interpret it. A classic example is this: When some people lose their jobs, they are invigorated. They feel good. Other people lose their jobs and just feel horrible."

When trying to sell a change plan, Kinicki advises managers to talk openly and honestly with their workers about the changes to come. But he also says they would be wise to focus on how those changes will ultimately be a positive thing for the company -- and, by extension, the employees.

"One of the things about communicating about change that is important to remember is this -- people will tend to resist change when they don't understand why it's happening," he says. "So you've got to script it out and present it in a way that the average person will understand."


Bottom Line:

The global economy and the rise of technology are forcing companies and organizations of all kinds of change in order to compete.
Even when change is necessary, however, employees may view it more skeptically than managers and executives would like to believe. And when employees take a negative view of change, their performance may suffer.
According to a new study, employees who cope with change by "escaping" it appear more likely to use sick time -- even if they're not sick -- and voluntarily quit.
Managers can avoid these problems by getting employees on board with a change plan early -- and, more importantly, emphasizing how that change will be positive in the long run.

Published: October 24, 2007 http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewfeature&id=1491