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Organizational change management is a structure that is quite crucial in the entire process of managing the consequences of new business processes so as to incorporate changes in the organizational composition or cultural consequences within a given enterprise. Basically, organizational change management addresses the human/employee side of changes within the organizational formation. An organized approach to organizational change management is advantageous when change calls for learning of new skills and behaviors by people throughout an organization. Through employing tools to improve communication, setting expectations and vigorously seeking ways to lessen misinformation, people are likely to accept change and remain committed to it throughout any implications linked with it. This paper aims at addressing the key change issues that can have a significant impact on the implementation of the new-developed business strategy at World Air Travel.
The World Air Travel
World Air Travel is an airline operating long haul flights all over the world and is based in the UK. Initially a publicly-owned state venture, World Air Travel was privatised 5 years ago. It enjoyed goodwill from both the employees, clients and the public at large due to the competitive salaries and benefits it offered. However the financial meltdown forced the company to take up a twofold strategy in order to increase and maintain competitive advantage. This strategy involved merging with Open Skies, which operates domestic and short haul routes between the UK and Europe and joining the Proxima Alliance, a partnership that brings together the most reputed airlines globally. Despite the many benefits associated with the strategy, retrenchment and review of terms of service were revised. This brought a deadlock in the implementation stopping the implementation process.
The Change Context
By definition, change is the substitution or succession of one thing in the place of another. It is altered quality or complete alteration of anything. There is no way of avoiding change and any organization resilient to change slowly becomes unstable. In the long run, the organization cannot stand the competition and will eventually exit the market. The daily operations within an organization are marked by occurrences that are interrelated. In an industry, there are events, things or situations that take place affecting the way an organization or business is operated either in a positive or negative manner. Such occurrences that affect an organization are referred to as driving forces. These forces are of two kinds; external drivers and internal drivers of change. Internal driving forces are events, things or situations that take place affecting the way an organization or business is operated from within. These forces are commonly under the direct control of the company. A good example may include how an organization handles machinery and equipment, organizational culture, technological capability, financial management, systems of management and employee morale. On the other hand, external forces of change are events, things or situations that take place outside the organization or establishment affecting the way an organization or business is operated. The organization has no way of controlling the external forces. Examples of the external drivers of change include the industry within which the company operates, the economy at large, general demographics, competitors in the same industry, political intervention among many more. It is clear that no matter the position of a company on the issue of change, it must happen. Therefore, any organization must be mindful of the changes explained above, be flexible and able and willing to act in response in the most appropriate way since they have the power to bury a business if not well dealt with. (Refer to the appendices below)
The nature of change facing the World Air Travel
Change is far too complex a phenomenon for there to be a simplified statement to define it or show its meaning. There are different types of change that include planned, emergent, incremental and transformational change. Planned change is a mixture of proactive, rational and a well thought approach to management of change. Emergent change is a rather reactive and an unstructured approach to change. Incremental change focuses on improvement of previous decisions while transformational change improves previous decisions through complete change in the way things are done instead of a progressive process. Internal drivers and external drivers of change usually occur simultaneously. For example, if the economy of the country deteriorates over time such that the company no longer makes profit, this is an external force. It requires the management to react in a manner that increases its chance of survival. At this juncture, the organization will employ its own strategies and management policies, internal drivers for change, in a bid to save the situation. Such is the case at World Air Travel where all was going well and everything was thriving until the recent global financial crisis that left most companies on their knees at the verge of collapsing. The financial crisis reduced the competitive abilities at the World Air Travel forcing it to carry out some measures to increase its chances of survival. This involved a strategy to increase and maintain competitive advantage; a merger and joining the Proxima Alliance. Another change also includes laying off workers and reviewing terms of employment.
Employee Reaction to Change
The problem facing the World Air Travel is larger than meets the eye. The company’s strategy to merger and partner with two already established companies is expected to have several repercussions. In terms of profit, the employees at the management team are happy since the company will gain competitive advantage and therefore restore its place at the top. However, the mergers and partnerships as well as cutting down cost will lead to a review of work conditions and laying-off of some workers. Therefore, the changes will b met by a lot of emotion and hostility to the idea since people will lose jobs at the worst time possible. If the proposal goes forward however, the company will have regional offices in all parts of the world. Some employees are enthusiastic since they might gain from this move and even anticipate promotion. Others are hopeful since there will be benefits like improved working conditions, new environments, higher status, a better pay and increased job security.Other employees will be angry since they might lose what they held dearly in terms of personal contact with friends, privacy in new formal offices, loss of personal identity, reduced sense of security, higher transportation costs, among other things. Some employees will however experience a rush of mixed feelings: They might fancy the new idea of moving and working with new people but do not really appreciate the extra transportation costs. Negative reactions are expected among the employees since they will not only lose some of their colleagues but will face pay cuts and possible unfavourable working contracts and agreements. The twofold strategy proposed by the company attracts positive and negative as well as mixed reactions as some employees feel cheated as others see opportunity and others are just open for anything.
Recommendations on Execution of Change
Within any given organization, change is an inevitable ever occurring feature whether at a strategic or operational level. Doubtlessly, the significance of an organization’s capability to identify its position in the future and how it can manage changes required for it to attain the set goals cannot be over emphasized. In the case for World Air Travel, the company faces a dilemma between implementing a strategy that could possibly save the face of the company or a near collapse agreement with the union due to the proposal brought forward by the company. The company in this case is needed to respond to serious changes in its industrial dynamics so as to survive the financial meltdown and maintain its top brand status. When the competition was dominated by other companies, the only tool World Air Travel can possibly use is competitive advantage. To gain the competitive advantage required to beat others in the same industry, the company has come up with a proposal to merge and partner with two other top brands.
Using the Kirkpatrick model (2001), there are three essential keys to successful implementation of change within an organization. They are empathy, communication and participation. Empathy involves the management placing itself in the shoes of the person who the change affects. It also allows a manager to use the know factor ballot to allow the change agent to determine potential reactions to the change. Additionally, the management has to establish the degree of essentiality for every item on the know factor ballot for instance education, name, experience and personality. According to this key, empathy cannot be inherited but may be acquired through training. It allows effecting communication and participation.
The role of communication is to create an understanding between different parties, in this case, the employees and the organization. Organization needs to identify communication barriers for instance poor timing, bad communication skills, anxiety and frustration. Communication allows establishment of rapport between receiver and sender. For easier transition, the organization needs to have a communication strategy. This allows clarity of change process to avoid distortions of the intended meanings.
Participation on the other hand gives room for a participative management strategy based on the view that the worker input may efficiently contribute to the success of the change processes. In this process, the management has four approaches that it can adapt; a tell and sell strategy where the manager makes a decision and informs the workers of the decision. A consultation and management control approach where the management asks for input then makes a decision before informing the employees. Another approach is the shared decision making where the management jointly makes a decision together with the employees. Another approach is where the management empowers the employees in an empowerment and delegation of responsibility for decision making approach.
After the initial stage of research, World Air Travel needs to present its findings to the top management and the union members as a whole. In this stage the company’s management needs to convince the union on why the twofold strategy needs to be implemented before it gets too late. After the above activities, the company will need to make a decision on how many workers to let go and also work on the terms of service for the remaining employees in the new company. This stage needs to be speedy as it involves a lot of emotions and work may be brought to a paralysed state. As seen above, this is a planned approach of change where everything is well thought about and ready to be implemented. In the case of World Air Travel, the negative consequences of the merger and partnership in order to gain competitive advantage is the single most challenge causing the delay in the implementation of the twofold strategy proposed by the management. Therefore, the company needs to address the matter of letting go some workers first in order to progress in effecting the changes for business to continue. Lastly, the company will need a follow up committee that will investigate their progress after the twofold strategy has been implemented and give their regular reports to the management team for emergent or incremental changes to be carried out.
Changes are the drivers of today’s economy. It is what defines a good company and a weak one. Change can be projected but as the 2008 financial crisis proved, not every time. It is therefore necessary to have a mechanism that deals with change to ensure the welfare of the employees, the stakeholders, the management and the company at large. Organizational change management is a structure that is quite crucial in the entire process of managing the consequences of new business processes so as to incorporate changes in the organizational composition or cultural consequences within a given enterprise. Strategies are used to combat changes, whether negative or positive. A negative sought of change is viewed as a threat and management comes up with a policy or strategy to combat it. However, changes may also be beneficial to a company and are viewed as a strength that helps to ferry the company to newer heights. Management should be careful when addressing change as it may contribute to the fall or rise of a company. It is the sole responsibility of the management within the company operations to monitor change and find new mans to gain competitive advantage in the industry as this is the only way to maintain the survival of a company.