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Assignment 1: The Change Process
In this module, you became more familiar with the change process and the issues that are associated with it. It is a given that change can occur in any organization or situation. The more familiar you are with the process, the better equipped you will be when facing change and the myriad issues that come along with it. For the discussion in this module, you will explore the change process and some of the issues that may arise.
Research the organizational change process, challenges, and issues. Use resources from professional literature in your research. Professional literature may include the Argosy University online library resources, relevant textbooks, peer-reviewed journal articles, and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, or .gov).
On the basis of your research and experience, in a minimum of 400 words, respond to the following points:
- Considering the different levels of the change process, as a change leader, explain how you would create the urgency or motivation necessary to initiate change.
- Share an example, either from your own experience or from research, where a leader was successful in positively influencing change. In your response:
- Identify and describe the type of change and what precipitated it.
- Explain how the change was successfully implemented and the strategies used to overcome issues, if any, that were faced.
Module 3 Overview
Impact of the Change Process
In the previous module, you studied the theoretical foundations of leadership as they relate to the change process. You also gained insight into critical change elements and their drivers and learned how leaders and employees respond to them. Additionally, you were introduced to the ethical dimensions associated with decision making and leadership behavior when implementing change.In this module, you will explore the various levels of organizational change and the issues that may arise as a result of a change. You will examine the impact of team dynamics and organizational culture, as well as the impact of internal and external politics, on change.Change is a reality in all organizations; therefore, it is critical for leaders to study and understand change and the issues associated with it. In this module, you will explore the different types of change issues and influencers, both within and outside the organization.You will learn how a leader can remove obstacles to change by understanding the various levels of organizational change and cultivating a culture of change through shared values and innovation and through genuine empowerment to foster attitudes and a willingness toward change.
Levels of Organizational Change
There are different levels of organizational change, depending upon the amount of change the organization would like to implement or the amount of risk the organization is ready to take. Organizations must decide at what level of organizational change they would like to consider their implementation. Changes are basically implemented to remain competitive and to assist in sustaining organizations.Once the external environment illustrates that a change may need to take place because of competitive opportunities or because of necessity, different levels of change may occur.
Click here to download the transcript Levels one through three are used when there is a need for change and the organization wants to become more competitive and productive. These steps can be used when there is substantial risk involved or when the organization has decided to strategically change direction.Technology changes have driven some businesses to evaluate their capabilities and their viability. In some cases, these businesses have decided to close down rather than trying to adapt to their new environment. When businesses do not keep up with technology, the competitive marketplace may pass them so quickly that it may not be cost effective to implement changes or redesigning their operations.Level four would be implemented when there is not a lot of risk and the changes are made incrementally and organizations are trying to improve operational processes. At this level, organizations are normally not trying to make any major changes
Types of Change
When planning for and implementing change, there are different types of issues organizational leaders need to consider. These issues come in different forms and have varying degrees of impact on the organization and on the change process. To ensure a smooth transition into lasting change, content, context, process, and criterion issues should be understood and considered when implementing any change.
Changes that are content driven are important as they focus on organizational implementation and effectiveness. Content changes focus on the essence of the organization and are meant to ensure that the organization meets its mission and vision.The need for content changes may involve the evaluation and revision of the organization’s mission, vision, strategic direction, and structure. Since these are significant changes, it is important to evaluate these foundations as they have a strong impact on organizational success and sustainability.Sometimes, the need for significant organizational change is in response to threats from external factors. If there are competitive or regulatory changes, an organization may need to evaluate its business model and work to adapt its model to meet the needs of the new environment. It is important to include stakeholders in this transformational change as the organization will need their support to implement the changes.Because of their complexities, content changes are more difficult to implement than process or contextual changes. In addition, content changes may take a longer time to implement—thus there is a risk of organizational fatigue. When content changes are considered, the organization should develop a detailed implementation plan that includes deliverables and timelines. Without such a framework, the organization can lose focus and get off track.Changing an organization’s mission, vision, or structure is a huge endeavor. Not all organizations are capable of implementing such changes, but those that are capable need to carefully plan and execute the changes. No leader can undertake these changes himself or herself, and through careful communication, the planning and implementation of these changes should include the involvement of internal and external stakeholders.If done successfully, content changes can result in better organizational performance and outcomes. On the financial side, the outcomes can include increased market share, revenue, and profits. On the internal side, the outcomes can include increased employee satisfaction and increased morale. Either way, if successful, the changes can have a positive, lasting impact on the organization’s viability and sustainability.
The external and internal environments drive the contextual issues related to change efforts. If an organization has poor employee relations, the organizational changes will be impacted by those poor relations. An organization must be aware of the context in which it is functioning so that it can make adjustments in its planning and implementation to accommodate the working environments. To gain awareness and a working understanding of the context, an organization should conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis as that will inform it of the challenges and opportunities facing its change initiative.
To successfully implement any change, the internal environment of an organization should be evaluated. For example, an organization should evaluate its workforce and identify the strengths and weaknesses of its employees’ skills and capabilities. What specialties and special knowledge and skill sets does the workforce possess? If there are none or few or if they do not align with the strategic and operational goals, what development plans and/or changes are needed to bring the organization’s workforce into alignment?Most organizations will have some levels of strengths and weaknesses within their internal environment. What is important is that the organizations be mindful of their strengths and weaknesses when planning for and implementing any internal changes. If not properly prepared, internal stakeholders might reject a change effort and work at cross purposes with leadership. Investigating all their contextual issues will allow an organization to evaluate the amount of assistance needed for change to be successfully implemented.
The external environment in which an organization functions can have a big impact on the success of the organization in meeting its goals. If the external environment is preventing an organization from meeting its goals, leadership needs to develop a plan to counteract the external forces. Maybe the organization is working with a weak supplier or vendor. If that is the case, the organization would need to work to improve the existing vendor or look for a replacement vendor.Another potential issue in the external environment is regulatory policies and their impact on the change process. No organization can operate without some constraints, and as local, state, and federal regulations change, the organization needs to adapt and accommodate the changes. Contextual issues may involve the leaders’ understanding of the social, political, and external environment as the organization implements change. Trust in the leadership of the organization and the history of change within the organization are all contextually related.Without a careful review of the external forces that impact the organization, any change effort may fail due to weaknesses in the external environment. Just as technological changes within the organization can be very instrumental in the organization’s ability to make changes, technology in the external environment can apply pressure on the necessity for change by the organization.
A process change is a change that impacts the processes within organizations. Like mission, vision, and context, an organization has processes in which it operates. Sometimes, these processes can become ineffective or outdated, and thus they need to be changed so as to improve outcomes. Process changes can take place at the following levels:
External environmental level: At the external environmental level, the different federal, state, and local regulatory agencies that affect external environmental issues must be evaluated to ensure that regulations can be met. There are numerous external considerations to be made, including sustainability and the carbon footprint, as they are increasingly becoming more important to organizational stakeholders.
Not only must workers’ health and safety issues be met, but the entire process of sustainability should be considered because of its increasing importance to the external environment. Since employees will be responsible for following regulatory policies, the nature and behavior of employees with regard to the changes must be considered when addressing criterion issues.
Organizational level: The process used to plan and implement organizational change is as important as developing the right content and contextual factors. Over the years, several pioneers have addressed the process for the implementation of change because of its importance and the difficulty of implementing successful change. Some of these individuals are Kurt Lewin, John Kotter, and Peter Senge.
Additionally, misjudgment of the implementation of change can be very costly for an organization. Because change is hard, the implementation should account for resistance and should include a plan to address and manage the resistance.
Employee level: Employees typically progress through various stages when a change is implemented. Initially, employees go through a normal process of denial and resist the change. It is at this time that communication should be timely, positive, and consistent. In addition, there should be efforts to implement communication from all levels within the organization. This would include executive leadership as well as local or departmental levels.
It is during this period that employees might be trying to decide whether they are committed to the change process. Because process issues are concerned with addressing actions undertaken during the change process, content and contextual issues must be thoroughly understood to get the desired results. At the same time, the attitudes and behaviors of the employees must be considered as well so that the actions undertaken to lead and implement change are most effective.
The ultimate responsibility of any change process is on the executive leadership as it is accountable to owners. Because it is important to have employee buy-in to changes, senior leadership needs to consider strategies to gain employee support of the changes.
Criterion Issues of Change
Criterion issues generally deal with the outcomes of organizational change. An impact analysis or impact assessment is often used to assess the change. When the implementation of change is being considered, it is important to establish the outcome criteria at that time. This is important especially when establishing outcome criteria in the areas of profitability and employee development as they are necessary for organizational sustainability.
Evaluating Employee Response
The outcome criterion issues of profitability and market share are usually major concerns for organizations. However, it must be remembered that the bottom line alone is not significant enough to evaluate success; employee response and support of the changes should also be considered.
It is important to understand that employee responses and behaviors to changes will have an impact on the success of the changes. The commitment and work attitudes of employees can indicate their willingness to support and comply with the changes. Evaluating employees’ responses and behaviors will help the organization understand the level of receptivity and resistance that might exist.
Evaluating Organizational Effectiveness
There is also a problem with the criterion of the evaluation of organizational effectiveness. There are numerous possible measures (such as revenue, profits, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and market share) that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of change; however, it is often not a straightforward concept because there are so many different measures available.
Traditional performance measures for organizational effectiveness have changed over the years. Criteria of organizational effectiveness that may be specific to one organization may not be specific to another organization. Basically, if an organization implements a change without accounting for the behaviors and attitudes of the employees, the criterion for effectiveness may be inadequate.
An organization needs to ensure that criteria used to define organizational effectiveness are clearly operationalized so as to ensure that the criteria can be validated. This is why establishing correct criterion issues beforehand to evaluate the outcome is so important.
Types of Change—A Summary
Impact of Team Dynamics on Change
An effective team can have a positive impact on change in an organization. Similarly, a dysfunctional team will negatively affect change efforts in an organization.
Kotter and Cohen (2002) believe an effective team made up of people with the right blend of skills, power, and authority and a sense of urgency and credibility will build trust and enthusiasm for change within the organization and will guide the organization to healthy change.Kotter and Cohen (2002) maintain that an effective team will pull people into the change effort. By doing so, they build the momentum and critical mass necessary not only to make the change but also to change the culture of the organization to reflect the new realities and values of the change effort. An effective team, in Kotter and Cohen’s (2002) terminology, “makes change stick.”
Conversely, dysfunctional teams are characterized by fragmentation. Change is unable to progress under their guidance. A dysfunctional team undermines trust in an organization, making it difficult to achieve the sense of urgency, which, according to Kotter and Cohen (2002), is necessary to initiate the change process.The fragmentation of a dysfunctional team is reminiscent of Lewin’s dynamic force field with the characteristic of being negatively charged. In terms of Senge’s system, a dysfunctional team lacks the ability to achieve at least two of the fundamentals of a learning organization, a shared vision and team learning.
Managing Diversity in Teams
Kotter and Cohen (2002) point out, an effective team is a diverse one, representing not only the necessary skills to achieve change but also the various constituencies within the organization. Such diversity is challenging even in an effective team. Managing this diversity means the difference between an effective team and a dysfunctional one.Kotter and Cohen (2002) refer to the leader as a person pushing and pulling the group:
- Pulling means drawing diverse people into the heart of the change effort by showing them and others how important choosing them was and why they were asked to serve.
- Pushing is done when the team is not operating effectively. The leader takes steps to move the group back to effectiveness, even if it means removing someone from the team or the organization. There is a continual balancing within the team to achieve a focused sense of urgency and optimal use of the team’s diverse talents to achieve change.
Reference:Kotter, J. P., & Cohen, D. S. (2002). The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston, MA: Harvard School Business Press.
Impact of Politics
There is no way to avoid organizational politics! Any organization, with two or more people, will experience politics as individuals or groups try to influence others to think or act in a particular way. Thus, any change effort is closely tied to the phenomenon of organizational politics.
Change and the Balance of Power
Change is about modifying the status quo and may involve a shift in the balance of power within the organization. Through change, power may be gained, lost, or redistributed throughout the organization. Some will perceive themselves as losing power, while others will see an opportunity to improve their position within the organization. In either case, the efforts of people to resist or promote the change will be based on their perception of how the change will impact them and their departments.
Lewin’s force field analysis model is applicable in assessing these situations, and you will learn more in the next module. This model studies the concept of how opposing forces can impact and determine the level and type of actions organizations as well as individuals may take to effect change.
Redirecting Political Energy to Promote Change
The political process itself has thus been used to redirect political energy to promote change rather than resist it. Three of Kotter’s eight steps to transformation focus on the issue of addressing people’s interests: Those three steps are:
- Communicate for buy-in
- Empower action
- Create short-term wins
Each of these steps addresses people’s feelings of personal power directly related to politics. Module 4 will take you through each of these steps.
Impact of Internal and External Politics
Impact of Culture
Culture is one of the most powerful influences in our lives. At the same time, it is one of the least visible influences to the people who live within it. Culture is the fabric of values, rules, and beliefs that govern a group, organization, or society.
Within an organization, culture dictates appropriate behaviors, role boundaries, and beliefs about what is valuable and useless, good and bad, and desirable and dangerous. Attitudes toward change, flexibility, and receptiveness to anything new and different are also reflections of culture. Thus, culture has a major impact on the change process in an organization.The culture of an organization will determine attitudes toward change, the receptiveness to new ideas, the willingness of people to take risks by trying something new, and the level of resistance a change leader can expect.
Cultivating a Change-Friendly Culture
Since change is a reality of life in contemporary and future organizations, it is critical for leaders to cultivate change-friendly cultures. It is necessary for a leader to cultivate an organization’s capacity for change by guiding it through smaller changes in which there is a low level of threat to individuals and to the culture of the organization.Some threats are necessary to bring about growth, but a calculated measure of threat combined with built-in short-term wins will build confidence, a willingness to take risks, and an increased capacity for organizational change. With successive iterations of this process, increasing the change demand on the organization and the amount of risk involved with each iteration, the leader can build a change-friendly culture.
Through this module’s online lectures and assigned readings, you learned about the various levels of organizational change and the issues that may arise, such as content, context, process, and criterion issues. You also looked into the impact of team dynamics on change and examined the impact of organizational politics and organizational culture on change.Here are the key points you covered in this module:
- An effective team can have a positive impact on change in an organization. Similarly, a dysfunctional team will negatively affect change efforts in an organization.
- There is no way to avoid organizational politics. Any organization will experience politics as one person or group tries to influence another person or group to think or act in a particular way.
- Dealing effectively with organizational politics requires a broad repertoire of techniques. When people feel threatened, insecure, and powerless, politics becomes an organizational obstacle. A leader can remove obstacles to enable people to achieve goals and feel capable, and organize the change effort to create short-term wins, thereby enabling people to feel powerful through and because of the change.
- Culture is the fabric of values, rules, and beliefs that govern a group, organization, or society. Organizational culture determines attitudes toward change, the receptiveness to new ideas, the willingness of people to take risks by trying something new, and the level of resistance a change leader can expect.
- Since change is a reality of life in contemporary and future organizations, it is critical that leaders cultivate a change-friendly organization. To do this, leaders need to understand the different levels of organizational change, be aware of the various issues that arise from change, and carefully examine the impacting forces when implementing change.