Change Management: Critical Review

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Introduction

Change is a common thing that happens all around us on a daily basis sometimes even without us noticing. It can range from family level to international levels, likewise in time frame it can happen on a daily basis, a monthly, yearly or even a decade. In the words of Senior & Fleming (6) Change can be simply defined as process of moving from one state to another. It is this transition that creates distress to the people due to fear of the unknown. We can not stop change but rather we can only manage it. So then what is change management?

Change management has been defined in several ways, but according to Hayes (2005) change management is the systematic approach and application of knowledge, tools, and resources to deal with change. It entails defining and adopting corporate strategies, structures, procedures and technologies to deal with change in external conditions and general business environment. It is a systematic approach to deal with change, both from the perspective of an individual or an organisation. Change management can be on an individual or an organisation level. When it is in an organisation we call it organisational change management.

Organisational change management (OCM) is defined as a framework for managing the effect of new changes in organisational structure, business processes or even cultural changes within an organisation. Simply put, we can say organisation change management addresses the people side of change management phenomenal (Palmer, Dunford & Akin, 11).

Palmer, Dunford & Akin, (12) go further to say that OCM can be beneficial when a systematic approach is applied. This needs people in the entire organisation to learn new behaviours, knowledge and skills. If you formally set expectations, employ tools to improve communication and seek ways to avoid misinformation, stakeholders are likely to buy into a change from the start to end.

Why do we need a change?

Before going further to explore OCM, it is vital to ask ourselves why do we need change in the first place? In their review of this question Senior & Fleming (18), says that organizations don’t just pursue change for the sake of it; it is done to accomplish a particular goal or objective. Most of the time organisational change is provoked by some serious driving forces either from outside or from within. For instance need for increase in productivity, addressing new markets, substantial decrease in funds, new production methods among other forces. Generally speaking organisations need to undertake organisation wide change so as to evolve to a different level in their life cycle.

Context of change

Change does not just come about by chance or luck, it happens in well defined contexts. This is especially important in well established organisations. In its review, the British Journal of Management (67) cites the following as some of the contexts that influence the need for management of change in any given organisation or work set up.

Demographics - This is basically concerned with profiles of individuals that are in the organisations. For instance an ageing workforce will mean management should put more efforts towards pensions whereas a youthful workforce will prompt the organisation to prepare for further training and career development.

Competition – this has to do with the organisation’s traditional, new and even potential competitors. By understanding their operations and strategies it becomes relatively easier for you to know what direction to take. For example cheap labour offered elsewhere signals you to rethink on your current pay scales. On the other hand loss of key market share can be an indication that there is a new player in the market who is posing a threat to current market share.

Technology – among all the change agents, this is perhaps the most disturbing factor. This is because technology changes so fast such...
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