A plan to reduce organizational stress during and after the organizational change process at IBM
Conducting a stress audit
This involves identifying the sources of stress that are related to the change process within an organization. This includes identifying the fears that the employees have concerning the change, the difficulties that are related to the new operations, and the potential inadequacies of the new system as compared to the previous one (Cooper, Weinberg & Sutherland, 2010).
Communication has a significant role in reducing stress levels before and after the change. This can be in the form of assurances from the management before the change process whereby the management commits to doing some particular things if the change is implemented. This involves the communication of the benefits and costs that are associated with the change and outlining the effects and those to be affected. The benefits will make the employees embrace change because they will be able to identify some benefits that they will enjoy. On the other hand, the management can commit to compensating fairly those who would lose their jobs after the change has taken place. Therefore, IBM CEO can direct departmental managers to identify employees who risk losing their jobs and then assure them that some specific amounts have been set aside for their compensation. Financial support can also be given to those who will incur extra costs because of the change. This reduces the worries of an extra financial burden on the employees. Training can also be another initiative that reduces stress because it helps employees to adapt to their new roles (Cooper, Weinberg & Sutherland, 2010).
After implementation, the trainer needs to be available to answer questions from the employees. This reduces the fear of failure in the new jobs hence reducing stress. The management of IBM needs to keep the promises it made to the employees before implementing the process. This cultivates a sense of belonging because the employees feel that their needs are considered when any change is to be implemented. The counseling process can also be used to help members who have to deal with unavoidable circumstances because of the change. For instance, some members who were very close may feel lonely and neglected when their colleagues have to leave due to the changes implemented. Therefore, such members can be helped through counseling. Providing feedback avenues can also be important in helping an employee to adapt smoothly to the new role with less stress (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2008).
Barriers to organizational change
Change is inevitable in any organization; however, the successful implementation of the change process to achieve the required results is not a guaranteed process. Various barriers can prevent an organization from achieving the objectives of change.
Resistance to change
Every organization has a way it carries out its daily operations. Employees get used to these procedures and processes and are comfortable carrying out their daily operations through the everyday processes. When they realize that their work is faced with imminent change they will oppose the change because of the uncertainties associated with the new operations that are to be implemented. Every employee is inherently concerned about change because s/he does not know how the changes will affect him or her. Furthermore, if the employees have previously gone through a change process that affected them negatively, then the level of resistance will be higher. Therefore, an organization can end up not achieving the planned objectives of a change process due to resistance from employees (Flood & Flood, 2000).
Employees would not only want to know why the imminent change is necessary but also how the change will affect them. There are some important components of communication of change process which if not addressed properly may lead to unsuccessful implementation of change in an organization. First is the use of the wrong delivery method or channel. For instance, employees would want an imminent change process be communicated to them not only by the CEO but also by their immediate supervisors who will be able to break down the information and respond to their questions. If such measures are not followed then the change process might not be successful (Harigopal, 2006).
Timing is also a key component of communication whereby the management must choose the appropriate time to communicate to the employees about the required change. Therefore, if the communication is wrongly timed then the employees will frustrate any efforts to implement the changes. For instance, an organization can be planning to transfer some of its employees to various branches all over the country. This must be communicated to the employees early in time so that they can adequately plan on how they will move with their families and belonging. If such communication is made with a short period to its implementation, it will automatically face opposition (Harigopal, 2006).
Lack of involvement of employees
If any change process in an organization is to succeed the employees must be involved otherwise, they will resist any attempt to impose new ideas on them. Change affects people differently in an organization; some people might be required to assume new roles while others may be required to drop some of the duties they were performing. Some employees might fear to fail in their new responsibilities, while some might fear to lose the benefits they were enjoying. Others may resist the change because they misunderstood the effects of the change. Therefore, it is important to incorporate the ideas of the employees so that they feel as part of the process. This will motivate them to be committed to the implementation.
Strategy and purpose of change
Change strategy refers to the tactics and approaches selected in implementing of change in an organization. The strategy chosen helps the organization in countering the barriers to change as well as ensuring that the change needed is successfully implemented. Various purposes of change in an organization can be explained as below. First, is to maximize on the return of resources invested, by exiting the product development cycle of a product. Every product goes through a life cycle and when it reaches maturity it goes through the decline stage. Therefore, an organization must be ready to reinvent the product or stop producing it all together. As a result, there will be need for restructuring of the organization’s processes to start producing a new product or to cut out some of its processes (Flood & Flood, 2000).
Change can also be used to fight competition from rivals whereby a company will be required to restructure its operations so as fit into the new operations of a merger. In addition, when a company acquires another the acquired company will have to change its processes to be in line with those of the acquiring company. A company can also change its strategic objectives either from an orientation that is product centered to customer centered in order to meet the specific needs of its customers. The need to serve customers can also force a company to adopt a technological change. This can be a way of achieving operational efficiency (Sengupta & Bhattacharya, 2006).
Ways to implement change
One needs to follow a laid down procedure to implement change effectively. This procedure has five steps which if followed strictly will lead to successful implementation of change in an organization. First, identifying the problems to be addressed whereby the management identifies and prioritizes its problems and then transforms them in to needs. This process must involve all the members of the organization. Secondly, there is analysis of the environment whereby the organization’s strengths and weaknesses are identified as well as the opportunities and threats within the macro-environment (Sengupta & Bhattacharya, 2006).
Thirdly, is the assessment of the financial costs and benefits of the change to the stakeholders. This involves a cost-benefit analysis of the change to determine if the change is worth implementing. Fourthly, is the evaluation of the potential success of the process. This involves identification of the potential barriers and determining strategies to address those barriers. Fifth, the management develops an implementation plan of the change process, which is followed by actual implementation. Implementation process starts by addressing the most important needs. Lastly, there is evaluation of the change process to determine if it was successful. The results of the evaluation process help in making the necessary adjustments (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2008).
Assessing and measuring change
Measuring and assessing organizational change involves comparing the performance of the organization and its members before and after implementation. There is therefore the need to set out clearly defined goals before the change process begins. This will help in counter-checking if the pre-defined goals were met. The extent to which the goals are met determines the success of the change or the implementation process. The standards can be measured in financial terms such as reduction in costs or increase in profits. The standards can also be qualitative such as satisfaction of customers or employees (Bass & Avolio, 1994).
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Cooper, C., Weinberg, A. and Sutherland, V. J. (2010). Organizational Stress Management: A Strategic Approach. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Flood, P. and Flood, P. C. (2000). Managing strategy implementation: an organizational behavior perspective. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Harigopal, K. (2006). Management of organizational change: leveraging transformation. New Delhi: SAGE.
Kirst-Ashman, K. K. and Hull, G. H. (2008). Generalist Practice with Organizations and Communities. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Sengupta, N. and Bhattacharya, M. S. (2006). Managing Change In Organizations. New Delhi: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.