Managing Organisational Change Through Effective Communication

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When Woolworths’ CEO Michael Luscombe took over from previous CEO, Roger Corbett in 2006 the management style changed. Corbett had an autocratic, uncompromising and conservative leadership style whilst Luscombe placed great emphasis on team-work. When such a drastic change occurs there may be many barriers that could affect the success of this change. Many believe that this specific change has been better by moving forwards a 21st century management style but with this drastic change comes the responsibility of Woolworths in making sure this change is managed effectively and the barriers can be avoided (Davidson, Simon, Woods and Griffin, 2009). This report will discuss the barriers of change any company, and specifically Woolworths will be affected by and how an open and honest communication system will best manage these barriers.

In all organisations the managerial decisions ultimately impact stakeholders and managing change is one of the most difficult tasks facing managers today. There are many reasons for the need to implement change. These include the desire to improve productivity, maximise shareholder value, globalisation, broken communication system and technological advances (Soltani, Lai and Mahmoudi, 2007, Ahn, Adamson and Dornbusch, 2004, Macadam, 1996). When several barriers are evident when a change is implemented, the possibility of failure is significantly increased and this can be caused by not managing change effectively. Failures include lack of commitment, poor management skills, lack of training, and confusion about rationale for change (LaCLair and Rao 2002).

“Change Management is the process of continually renewing the organisations direction, structure, and capabilities to serve the ever-changing needs of the marketplace, the organisation and employees”. (Moran and Avergun, 1997). In order for an organisation to manage change effectively managers need to have an open and honest communication system in all facets of the organisation. This will provide employees with not just a need-to-know basis of what the change will bring but it will give them a full understanding of what is trying to be implemented and thus will be more willing to support the change. Employees need to feel included and a balance between hierarchy and functional hierarchy is vitally important (Turner, 1993).

Organisational barriers have been classified into two distinctive groups. The first is industrial barriers which include technical information, competitive pressures, current operations and industry regulations. The second is organisational barriers which include employee attitudes, past practices, poor communications and inadequate top management leadership (Post and Altman, 1994). If these barriers are not managed effectively they will have a negative effect on stakeholders as well as loss of productivity and profits (Dalton, 1998).

Issues in Effective Communication

“Communication frames ideas, identifies problem areas and is linked to improve productivity in organisations” (Weick and Browning 1986). A number of researchers have found that in managing change through effect communication is not a simple task. There are many factors that need to be taken into account in how to address such a big issue. Layers in the organisation make it difficult to get the message across to all employees as the message is changed from person to person, depending on each individual’s perceptions of the message as well as the issue of the message arriving too late or not at all (Weick and Browning, 1986, Goldhaber, 1990). Employees won’t respond with feedback that they have kept inside for long periods of time. They need to express their thoughts when the question is asked so a method such as opinion boxes will often not be used as it is either too much trouble or when the employee gets the time to fill out their opinion, they have already forgotten what it was that they thought. Research shows that by bringing in...
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