Page 3: Managing change
Change is inevitable and needs to be handled effectively. To remain competitive organisations need to continually look for more efficient and effective ways to operate. Change management is therefore high on the agenda for many organisations.
Managing change involves a transition from A to B. As this takes place, managers need to handle the challenges that may come up during the process. At the forefront of this is the setting of change objectives. They then have to work out the best way to achieve these objectives.
Factors affecting change
Every organisation is a complicated system so managing change is not necessarily an easy process. For example, there will be a number of different interdependent parts affecting the whole organisation. Changes in technology could have an impact on working procedures, the structure of the organisation and its people. As leaders manage change, they have to manage the different inter-related parts of the organisation. The ability to manage these parts well is therefore a vital skill for managers.
Managing change involves making decisions at different levels. These include:
- Strategic decisions - major decisions affecting the whole of an organisation.
- Tactical decisions - at departmental level to work towards achieving change objectives.
The way in which decisions are communicated and carried out varies depending on the style of leadership or the culture of the organisation. There are four main methods:
- ‘Total imposed package’ which comes from the top, covering the whole organisation and is implemented in one go.
- ‘Imposed piecemeal initiative’ where change is imposed but in stages.
- ‘Negotiated total package’ where the aim is to seek a package of change via negotiations with the staff.
- ‘Negotiated piecemeal package’ where there is a gradual implementation of change through a series of negotiations with the workforce.
Communication plays a key role in the process of change. Managers and leaders need to identify effective communication channels through which to reach the appropriate stakeholders. This must happen at every stage in the change process. Employees need to understand the reasons for change. They may want to ask questions to clarify how they can support the process of change. As planning takes place a time frame should be drawn up.
Good communication ensures transparency when implementing changes. This can help motivate employees as they feel included in the process. Controlling the process is important as it helps to reduce conflict. Reviewing the process ensures that change objectives are being achieved.
CMI qualifications provide managers with the skills and competencies required to plan, implement, control and review the change process. For example, at HMP & YOI Doncaster, having identified areas of weakness within the prison, it was important that managers could identify solutions that could bring about change to create improvements. Training by CMI helped managers to respond to issues in an imaginative and flexible way. It also provided managers with the opportunity to take qualifications that would improve their career development.