Change Management Theories
Change management theories are developed to explain transitional processes in organizations. In the context of this paper, the John Fisher change model explains the resistance of organizational transitions in the “goofing” case study. This theory explains that employees follow eight stages when confronted with organizational shifts: anxiety and denial, happiness, fear, threat, guilt and disillusionment, depression and hostility, gradual acceptance and moving forward (In-Tuition, 2011). The John Fisher change model notes that, people often go through eight transitional levels, at different intervals, depending on various variables, such as, life experiences, gender, organizational position and similar factors (In-Tuition, 2011). In the context of the “Goofing” case study, we can apply the Fisher change model to the behavioral characteristics of managers. Considering the managers are strongly opposed to change, we can affirm that, they are still in the first stage of the Fisher change model. This stage describes a state of denial and anxiety because they refuse to give the middle-level employees any opportunity to do things differently in the organization. There is also a great similarity between the “goofing” case study and the Fisher model, in the sense that, the difference in organizational change perception between the middle and top-level managers is evident because there is a strong difference in organizational positions between the two groups. A difference in organizational position is perceived as a strong determinant of the level of organizational change different groups support.
A second model explaining the organizational transition process is described by the Kubler Ross model. The model describes the human process of adjusting to organizational shifts in five distinct stages. These stages are described by the processes of dying, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (In-Tuition, 2011). In the context of the “Goofing” case study, we can establish that, the managers exhibit trends of denial because they are completely opposed to a shift in “status quo”. This is a form of defense for the managers because they are exhibiting signs that they are not willing to acknowledge the existence of transitional elements in the organization.
Role of Change Agents
The role of a transitional agent varies with different contexts or situations. However, commonly, the role of a transitional agent revolves around the concept of facilitating change within the organization. The major role of the transitional agent is to make all stakeholders of the organization “buy into” the transitional process. This is the initial step of the change management process because the next step involves making the stakeholders remain committed to their role in the organization transition process. However, before transitional agents undertake this step, they need to educate stakeholders about the goals and aims of the change management process. For instance, in the “Goofing” case analysis, Bailey acts as the transition agent by educating top-level managers of the goals and aims of the transitional management process.
This role is not different with explaining the importance of the change management process. Bailey does so by preparing managers to listen to middle-level employees. He also does the same for the middle-level employees because he requests them to prepare a presentation to the top-level managers about their results and accomplishments after undertaking the transitional management process. This task summarizes another crucial role of the transitional agent, which is to ensure there is political will among all stakeholders in the transitional management process. In the context of the “goofing” case study, it is clear that, Bailey strives to ensure there is political will from the organization’s managers to support the transitional process by listening to what lower-level managers have to say. He is however unsuccessful in this quest. Another crucial role of the transitional agent is to ensure there are enough resources for the organizational shift. For example, in the “goofing” case study, Bailey ensures he has got the organization’s human resource behind his transition plan. To realize better odds at implementing change in the organization, he ensures he has the support of the vice presidents. This is an important resource in effecting organizational shift. This role is often ensured by making every stakeholder in the transition process play their part in the transitional management process.
Trust In the Change Management Process
Trust is a very important concept in organizational transition management. It is difficult to carry out any successful organizational shift if the element of “trust” is not witnessed among the stakeholders (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002). More so, stakeholders ought to trust completely the transitional agent in delivering a swift organizational shift within the organization. Researchers affirm that, people are opposed to drastic transitions, but “trust” ensures the transition process leads to positive results at the end of the transition management process (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002). Trust is therefore important in the transition management process because an organizational shift is a risk, and trust defines this risk, with a future positive assurance of good results. For example, in Bailey’s case, the biggest risk he faced when trying to effect an organizational shift was the chance of failure. There was a real possibility that he would entirely fail in the process of initiating an organizational shift in the organization because there was a real chance that top-level managers would not budge in maintaining “status quo”. However, since trust was evident in the entire transition management process, elements of benevolence, credibility and competence was evident among all stakeholders involved (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002). Since the transition management process has opposing sides, it is crucial for the transition agent to have the virtues of persistence and patience.
In the context of the “goofing” case study, the element of “trust” profoundly stands out because Bailey (the transition agent) is pivotal in facilitating an organizational shift within the organization. More importantly, the middle and low-level employees are able to trust him to communicate with top-level managers to accept an organizational transition in the organization. They exhibit a lot of trust in Bailey because they know they are standing against management’s wishes. This is a risk they are willing to undertake under the leadership of Bailey. It is further evident that, if “trust” lacked, the workers would be extremely demoralized and may even exhibit signs of being disloyal to the company (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002). This is the risk element of trusting a transition agent in an organizational shift process.
Empowerment and Process Improvement
Employee empowerment is a crucial element in the implementation of transition management processes (Block, 1993). As a result, employee empowerment is part of process improvement. This relationship can also be evident in reverse, where process improvement provides the framework for employee empowerment. The concept of employee empowerment is very crucial to this transition management analysis because it is the only concept that allows employees to make decisions about how they would like the organization to be run. In the context of the “Goofing” case study, we can see that, employee empowerment is not evident in the organization. Top-level managers have persistently frustrated efforts by lower-level employees to make any crucial decisions in the workplace because they distrust them. In this regard, lower-level employees find it increasingly difficult to effect an organizational shift (because of stiff managerial opposition). In the same manner, it is very difficult to realize process improvement (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002).
Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener (2002) explain that, process improvement is a product of employee empowerment. The same is also true in the context of the “goofing case study”. This fact is true in the context of the “goofing” case study because organizational managers have frustrated the transition management process by completely disempowering lower-level employees to undertake any meaningful shift in the organization’s processes. This means that “status quo” prevails, and no meaningful process shift occurs in the organization. In fact, no major process shift prevails in this environment (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002). It is for this reason that Bailey strives to make the top-level managers give lower-level employees a chance to show them the benefits of the process improvements they are undertaking in the organization. This is a means of empowering employees to make productive transitions in the organization.
Training Tools for the “Old Guard”
The nature of tasks meant to prepare all stakeholders in the organization to embrace process shifts, closely resemble the role of transition agents in the transition management process (Humphreys and Einstein, 2003). For instance, the “Goofing” case study exposes the role Bailey had to play in realizing stakeholder “buy-in” (regarding the concept of transition management). Though much of the work (or tasks) done was directed towards making top-level managers accept process change, part of the training required to make top-level managers accept change, lie in the input of lower-level employees. For instance, in the “goofing” case study, it would be easier to realize management “buy-in” if lower-level employees were able to show results from the transition management processes they undertook. Still, in the context of the “goofing” case study, it would equally be difficult to realize managerial “buy-in” (even if Bailey convinced the managers to listen to lower-level employees) if lower-level employees never showed any impressive results from the change management process they undertook.
Managers opposed to change should therefore be shown the importance of process shifts. Often, managers who oppose process transitions fail to realize the benefit organizational shifts bring into an organization (Korsgaard, Brodt and Whitener, 2002). Therefore, they oppose process shifts altogether (Humphreys and Einstein, 2003). In the context of the “goofing” case study, exposing the benefits of process shifts goes a long way in softening management’s opposition to change. Finally, making the managers realize that change is an inevitable concept also goes a long way to reduce their opposition to change. Since change is inevitable, it would therefore mean, managers have to embrace it anyway.
Block, P. (1993). Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self Interest. San Francisco: Berrett Koehler Publishers.
Humphreys, J.H., & Einstein, W.O. (2003). Nothing new under the sun: Transformational leadership from a historical perspective. Management Decision, 41(1), 85-95.
In-Tuition. (2011). Apply These Change Management Theories in Your Workplace. Web.
Korsgaard, M. A., Brodt, S. E., & Whitener, E. M. (2002). Trust in the face of conflict: The role of managerial trustworthy behavior and organizational context. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 312-319.