Organisational Change Management


Organisational change management (OCM) is a framework for managing the effects of dynamism of the various variables in a business environment and specifically the changing organisational structure. Successful organisational change management is based on creation of sound strategies (Senior, & Swailes, 2010). For instance, the strategies have to include an agreement on a common vision for the organisation, a program to educate the employees on how their roles and responsibilities in the company are about to change, a means of monitoring and evaluation as to whether the change process has been beneficial to the company or not and most importantly, rewards systems for employees that exhibit the best adaptability to the new changes.

Thus, it is right to infer that the most effectual application of organisational change involves changing the perceptions of the employees as they hold the key to a successful organisational change in any given firm.

Why and how middle managers resist and support?

Why middle managers support strategic change

As a result of rapid technological development, a workforce with growing abilities and the shifting of recognized work practices, change is gradually becoming an ever-present feature or characteristic of organisational life. Most changes in the organisational structure of a firm are based on the assumption that individual aims,wishes and needs are fully aligned with those of the organisation. Sometimes when this happens, there is internal acceptance of change and this rapidly translates into positive change (Senior, & Swailes, 2010).

A primary assumption underlying emergent theories is that in order to respond to change, managers must bear an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the firm, its structures, strategies, people as well as culture. This allows the managers to choose the most eefficient and appropriate approach to change and identify the factors that bear the potential to emerge as facilitators or barriers of the same (Beckhard, 2006)

The top two factors that make an organization effective at change management are support by middle management and stakeholder involvement in the initiative. This is because they make up the primary decision implementers in any firm and hold the best knowledge of the constantly changing business environment (Conway, & Monks, 2011).

The lack of sound senior leadership is the second biggest cause for organizational change failures. Thus it remains essential that senior management is up to the task of leading and managing middle managers through change. It remains of utter importance to involve employees effectively in organizational decision making and change program formulation. Consequently, during times of change, sound communication between middle management, lower ranking employees and the relevant stakeholders is more important than usual and can potentially play a significant role in the cost and outcome of change efforts.

Citing the observations above it is thus correct to make the inference that employee behaviour towards strategic change is strongly based on factors such as the organisation’s already established culture, rewards for high performing employees, the level of recognition that mid-level managers get for exemplary performance and the presence of appropriate incentives. This means that middle management involvement is crucial of paramount importance where change initiatives are concerned. The process of change management is a comprehensive and structured overture intended for transitioning persons, groups or organizations from a current to a future state with formulated and planned business or others gains. However, in the case of organizational change, it begins with organizational leaders formulating an organizational strategy and later the creation of an initiative that is aligned or parallel with that strategy. These strategic initiatives are formulated as a direct response to a change in the business environment. (Conway, & Monks,2011)

Reasons middle managers resist strategic change

Strategic initiatives, both projects and programs by their very nature drive change in an organization. (Oreg, 2006). It is important to note that any firm’s executives and employees view strategic change differently. For instance, senior managers usually take on change as an opportunity for both the firm as well as themselves. The employees on the other hand view change as disruptive, intrusive and likely to involve loss of comfort or much valued consistency. To gain a sound understanding of these varying perspectives and managing the change from both steads ensures a smoother and more successful transition for all persons involved. This is one of the stumbling blocks to effective change than makes middle managers resist strategic change.

The also exists the general assumption that people and especially middle managers have the desire to assimilate the firm’s organisational change into their lives, given all their priorities, the type of development or change the organisation deems appropriate for them may lack to coincide with their interests. This form of internal resistance ensures that there is no significant progress in the change process. Thus, the resources of the firm that are dedicated to the change are ultimately wasted. The managerial boards of any firm have to ensure that they appreciate and attain a thorough and clear understanding as to how change is managed in the organization. This recommends the managerial posts have the correct measures and information to challenge and recalibrate strategy implementation with their executives.

Another reason why change initiatives fail to succeed is the lack of clearly defined milestones for the organizational changes in the first place, a poor or inadequate commitment to the change process exhibited by senior management coupled with poor communication. It is thus important to note that the inability of senior management to effectively communicate the anticipated outcomes of these practices throughout the organization and especially to the middle managers is a source of failure. For instance, while outlining the milestones and metrics is an important initial step, communication of their impact to the whole organisation at large is essential. The creation of an effective communication plan, properly executing that plan and identifying, measuring as well as transmitting the intended gains of change are primal factors that boost an organizations ability to handle change.


Kotter, 1996 has a proposed and more emergent view to tackling employee resistance to change. They proceed to state that the circumstances of the change and the content of the change itself may differ divergently between various organisations. Thus go ahead to recommending that this knowledge should be employed when determining the appropriate response to the internal resistance. They outline a number of approaches from training to coercion, and further describing who and when to use them to reduce resistance. The research is very application friendly as it further details the advantages and drawbacks of each method.

Ultimately, this confirms that firms need to foster the culture of listening to their customers and gauge or judge the responses of their employees when implementing organisational change, since these factors are critical to a firm undergoing the change process.

Why do models of planned change not bring about cultural change?

Reasons models of planned change fail to bring about cultural change.

Fundamental to the success of organisational change is the acceptance of the change by employees. Within this context, the work of (Musson, & Duberley, 2007) who argued that all humans undergo 5 stages of ‘grief’ (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) when confronted with a loss or change is considered relevant and has been applied to the management of organisational change. (Wiggins, 2009) utilizes the model to help guide communication and support during the change period. The author then suggests that the model should be engineered to the stage of change that the employees have attained at any one time. For instance, after the news of change is delivered, employees need to be given a specific time period to tackle or take on their disaffirmations. Once the information has sunk in or taken effect and they experience anger and resistance, they require support to guide their misplaced energy otherwise undesired outcomes may befall the respective firm. Once workers have begun accepting the current and new situation, they require additional steering to help grasp the vision and gradually evoke commitment. It is thus correct to infer that the culture of an organisation cannot be changed seeing as how some cultures are inherent to the human condition. The above model may fail to work owing to the lack of interests that the employees of a firm may to respond to this type change.

According to (Smollan, & Sayers, 2009) modern societal conditions are exceptional in terms of change. Traditional industries have acknowledged that change is inevitable. The attainment of understanding and the management of change have developed into a virtual industry, that encompasses entire consultancy firms, the skills of reputable managers and leadership gurus, mass media, the business press, high-profile corporate executives, politicians and business schools, as well as management writings and management rhetoric and practice.

Contemporary ideas of change dictate that managers must be accustomed to working with planned organizational change while still being antiphonal to changes in the surrounding. The efforts made to change organizations take a lot of time as well as energy of many individuals in the leaderships ranks as well as other employees. If all parties involved are not interested in the paradigm of change being presented, this brews the lack of change in culture and ultimately there is no change in the culture of an organization (Harris, & Ogbonna, 2002). This can be classified under gross inadequacy of organizational commitment.

The absence of a sound plan despite the statement of the changes that are desired at the beginning of the planned change is a hindrance to change. When a change plan blueprint is brought about, sometimes it may be the work of an external auditor. Sometimes the plan may be formulated by a firm executives using perceived conditions and thereby fail to meet the requirements of the lower ranking employees. In turn this causes a total failure in the implementation because it does not hold much importance for the individuals for whom it was intended. Thus there should be a bottom-up approach to this issue rather than a top down approach in the formulation of sound plans for organisational change primarily because even if the changes are initiated, they are never take root in the organisation.

Organisational politics dictate the amount of trust employees in any given firm have in management. The trust levels have been found to effect a particularly strong impression on emotive, cognitive as well as behavioural resistance; an outcome that emphasises on the grandness of proficient management skills throughout a duration of change. This ensures that there is constructive criticism on both ends of the corporate hierarchy and thus a democracy or an illusion of it is created (Harris, & Ogbonna, 2002). This acts in reducing the resistance for change in employees mentioned many case studies of organizational change by actively involving the employees in the change or to empower them to make changes themselves.

Organisational change management involves the capability of an organisation to intricately design and transition change outcomes into the business. It remains the easiest element to understand and often the first area in which an organization can builds the capability for change. Developing capability in organisational change management starts with an understanding that the human resource side of projects need to be addressed with training and communications (Burnes, 2004). This then develops to achieve maximum returns where project change feedback and collaboration is leveraged towards accurately designing, initiating, directing and informing the approaches taken. For example, if an employer wishes to make changes that will affect what employees are expected to do for the organisation, like a change in working hours, it is implied that the organisation should also consider changing what they will offer to the employees to maintain a balance. Ultimately flexible organisational structures are created and these are more adaptable to change.

The executives of many organisations fail to match organisational effectiveness and planned change values. The most realistic objective to effective change is firmly based on the traditional notion that organisational structures are designed to achieve specific functions. This signifies that the strategic direction of any organisation in the past is never as important as it is in the present. Thus any change that will affect the structure of a business firm will ultimately affect the culture of a firm. However, the employees should understand that appropriate changes are meant to propel growth and development of the firm.

In conclusion, it is important to make the inference that the success of planned change in an organisation is based on how much attention is put to assessing the attitude and needs of the human resource first. Growth and change are expected occur through the evolution of skills and the abilities of the human resource in the firm. Targeting internal processes to effect change are the most effective ways to guarantee success in the case of a planned change. Changing the culture is a gradual process that is all-involving and should be conducted in an intricate fashion ensuring that all stakeholders are adequately involving.

How do leadership behaviours positively and negatively impact upon employee commitment to organisational change?

Effective organisational change management involves coming up with means to effectively reduce employee resistance and cost to the organisation while maximising the positive impact of this change on the firm (Senior, & Swailes, 2010). The business environment of this day calls for firms to undertake changes regularly so as to maintain the competitive edge. The competitive edge of a business may be lost if the firm is not responsive to changes like globalisation of markets and rapidly technological advancement.

Organisational change is most of the time brought about as an adaptive move to problems in the business environment. This calls for a management team that is quick in response to new or dormant potential strengths in the organisation. This discrepancy between current performance and optimum performance is called the performance gap. More often a change in the organisation will fail if it is resisted by the employees in the organisation. The failures can be primarily attributed to the manner in which the change is initiated, announced and implemented in the organisation. Employee resistance or acceptance to organisational change can be primarily attributed to the degree of contradiction of the employees’ interests with the change at hand (Thomas, & Hardy, 2011).

There are numerous approaches that have been employed to establish the role in which leadership plays in the commitment of employees to organisational change. Most of them are rooted in what many scholars consider change as a situational contingency that plays a vital role in the level of impact a given leadership style has. A Leaders’ character and behavior are vital traits especially during organizational change since the present a vision of the change, offer direct support to employees and model appropriate attitude (Furst, & Cable, 2008). On the other hand, employee’s then change initiatives as these initiatives are often found to be responded to negatively and resisted by the employees. Success or failure of any organization is therefore largely dependent upon the leaders’ capability to effectively handle endless changes being implemented in the organization’s dynamic environment as well as their ability influence employees and their committed to organizational towards the change process.

Transformational leadership is the style of leadership that leads to positive change by always being energetic, enthusiastic and encouraging followers to look for new ways to achieve their objectives (Beckhard, 2006). The original conceptualization of transformational leadership has its basis on the interaction of the three factors of charisma, individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation.

Organisations have been frequently forced to come up with creative and innovative ways to cope with a rapidly changing environment by continuously adapting required changes. Thus, there exists the constant pressure on the leaders to be versatile in their decision making and leadership styles. This implies that businesses are required to be constantly morphing to keep up with competition in the marketplace. Transformational leadership ensure that the employees in the organisation approach the transitional periods of change with an objective mind. This is primarily because most organisational changes in a firm are viewed as stressful experiences. The transformational leader will ensure that feelings of loss of status, role conflicts and reduction in available resources are not felt. Transformational leadership style is a robust predictor of meliorated organizational performance as well as the employees’ emotive and normative dedication to change (Machin et al., 2009). Transformational leadership is perceived important during change periods due to the ability of transformational leaders to engage and involve followers as well as to avail motivation thus evoking support towards the leader’s chosen direction. Thus this is undeniably the best form of leadership to apply when looking for a best case scenario in creating a positive attitude of employees towards organizational change.

Other methods of leadership are either ineffective due to the lack of proper direction and coaching of the employees or inappropriate in the times of organizational changes in a firm. Poor leadership during a period of change for any firm can affect the employees in one of several ways. First, there is a general lack of synergy in the firm. Effective managers show the ability to promote idea sharing and discussion in the organization. The lack of synergy however, means that change is not going to be effected in the organization because of the general lack of mutual goals. Eventually there is more fragmentation in a firm and employees end up neglect their duties in the change process.

Secondly, a morale level dwindling is another consequence of poor leadership. Employees generally adopt a feeling of misdirection coupled with uncertainty about their future in the organization. Consequently the employees will be lost to competitor firms or even quit to avoid being fired whether it is a real threat or not (Lundy, & Morin, 2013). This plunges the organization into a downward spiral owing to the exodus of top performers in the field.

The best tangible tool to measure poor leadership in an organization that is experiencing change is poor profits or dwindling returns. The lack of commitment of the employees is a driver of poor sales and inefficiency in the organization. A drop in profits is a show that the employees are lacking in dedication and hence performance. In an ideal situation, optimal performance is something that is inspired by the leaders of the organization.

An ineffective leadership for a business sets a clear direction, and ensures that the subordinates align their primary objectives to a stipulated strategic plan. In the case of a poor leadership, this is not done and eventually low rates of success in   implementation of organizational change are experienced (Gill, 2003). Sponsors and stakeholder may be compelled to pull away from one such organization since the leaders are not steering the firm towards satisfying their own interests.


















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