7 steps to Transforming an Organization - Part V of VII

BY ICFAI - 2016-11-11

Empowering Employees for Broad – Based Action

Organizational change needs the full support of employees and managers in the organization. For this to happen, the guiding coalition needs to empower people to take action. In many cases the guiding coalition simply communicates the new direction to the people. But this is not sufficient to bring about change in the organization. The obstacles to change should also be removed. Very often, the people and different levels in the organization want to move in the new direction visualized by the coalition, but they are hampered by obstacles which block the way to change. The obstacles may be organizational structures, skills, systems, and superiors. To overcome these obstacles, the following steps are necessary:

Ensure compatibility between the structure and the change vision

Structures that are not aligned with the change vision block the required action. If structural barriers are not removed when the change vision is publicized, employees get frustrated, and this undermines the transformational effort. If the structure is aligned with the change vision at a later point in time, the organizational energies necessary to employ new structures to realize the change vision, may simply not be generated.

Changing structures can be difficult because employees are accustomed to a basic organizational design, and are blind to other alternatives. Also they have invested significantly in the existing structure in terms of personal loyalties and functional expertise, and do not want to shift to a different structure. Though senior managers may appreciate the need to change the existing organizational structure, they might not be willing to arouse dissatisfaction among middle managers and their peers. Hence, any effort aimed at changing the structure must be carefully planned and executed.

Train employees

Employees feel empowered and show an inclination to change, when they are equipped with the right skills and attitudes to operate in the intended organizational environment. As skills and attitudes are acquired over a long period of time, employees cannot be expected to shed all their old skills and attitudes and acquire new ones within a few days of training. Employees and managers need enough time for this. sometimes, employees are provided training to acquire only technical skills and not social skills and attitudes. It is also common to find that after training the employees, nobody bothers to check how successfully they are employing their skills, and what problems they are encountering while using these skills.

Leaders overseeing the change process need to pay enough attention to the new behaviors, skills and attitudes necessary to bring about the desired change.

Align organizational systems to the vision

Organizational systems that are not aligned with the vision act as blocks to the required actions. Though systems are easier to change the culture, simply erasing all inconsistencies between the new vision and current systems in a day or two may not be possible. This too needs proper planning and consistent effort. For example, the HR department needs time to align the HR systems such as performance appraisal, compensation, promotions, etc. with the new vision.

Confront errant managers

Managers resisting change can derail the process of change. Senior managers confronted with such errant managers, take recourse to marginalizing them. But marginalizing errant managers can take time, and is wasteful of the senior manager’s precious time and energies. Another option, kotter suggests, is to have an honest dialogue with such managers. The senior manager must make clear what the organization’s expectations are. He should also ask what the organization can do to align the manager concerned with the change vision. If this dialogue does not yield any results, the errant manager should be fired.

In case you missed it, my last post was 7 steps to Transforming an Organization part IV of VII

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Acknowledgement: Leadership & Change Management book by ICFAI

Gemba Kaizen