Understanding Leadership and Change

Understanding Leadership and Change

The world of business is in a constant state of change.  The business world really cannot help but to change once the production of their widgets gets flooded with competition and market share begins to tumble.  But what does this constant change do to the organization internally?  This writer believes that it can have an adverse effect on the organization in relation to the growth and culture of its employees. If that answer is correct, then the only conductors of this organizational train are the leaders that toot the horn and map out the journey of the organization.  Organizations continuously search out and hire internal and external organizational consultants to assist with these changes and to help make sure that that organizational change is a success.  The goal of this paper is to address the concerns of what can make a great organizational leader/organizational consultant and whether or not they can be both.  In addition, this writer will look at ways, as a consultant, to help with increase motivation within the workplace.

Resistance to Change

In order to understand organizational change and its successes, this writer feels that there needs to be an understanding of the polar opposite of change, resistance to change.  He feels that it is important to have a 360 degree understanding of organizational change.  In addition to understanding change, this writer will take it a step further and look at leadership and the question can leaders be good organizational development practitioners.  According to Bateh, Castaneda, and Farah (2013) success in change management depends on a variety of components, organizational structure, resource availability, and vision/mission of the company.  In addition, leaders might not even understand how to create change and/or motivation to begin with which can cause trust issues from employees.  So, how can an organization expect to change when their leadership does not have the capacity to successfully lead change?  If change is not deploed correctly, according to Simollan (2011), failure will ensue in the change management initiative.  Moreover, if leadership does not address resistance to change and understand the parameters that are associated with resistance, the organizational change will fail.  For example, what kind of resistance is being presented, behavioral or attitudinal?  In most cases, in this writer’s experience, behavioral has been the main resistance demonstrated by employees.  According to the Simollan (2011), behavioral resistance can be simply the employee reduces work effort, has less employee pride Gouthier, Rhein (2011) or is disassociated with the organization causing lack of growth.

Another factor that can lead to resistance to change is lack of communication.  Leaders need to understand, according to Darling and Heller (2011) that lack of communication can lead to stress on the employees causing them to act out, per say, in their everyday tasks.  If the communication is not well planned and is negative, the leaders trust level with their employees will be challenged.  Employees do not like change or a change from the status quo, Smollan (2011) and if employees are threatened with change without the needed trust factor from their leaders, active resistance will begin. For example, finding faults, being critical, and sabotaging are just a few ways employees can deploy active resistance.

Leaders as Organizational Practitioners

It is time to flip the coin and look at the other side of change and answer this question. Can leaders make good organizational development practitioners?  In this writer’s opinion the answer would be yes and no and here is the reason why as it will depend on each and every situation.  If the organization is making small, incremental changes that are strategically planned, then yes, they can make good practitioners as they can oversee the process and make changes if needed.  If the organization does not have a good plan in place and is very top-down in leadership, there is a chance that the leaders will have a difficult time with change.  Leaders of large organizations simply do not have time to oversee the minute by minute operation of the change process.  The good news is that organizations can hire out an external consultant to help them with the change.  Ben-Gal and Tzafrir (2011) explored how and when leaders would higher out a consultant to assist with the change of the organization.  There were many advantages to this.  For example, a consultant has a vast knowledge of change programs from other companies and can provide a compare and contrast to what has worked before and what has not.  In addition to the vast knowledge, the consultant can provide action plans and steps to help leadership with communication with employees and to make sure that the change stays on scope. Moreover, when leaders hire in a consultant to assist with organizational change that instills a trust factor with the employees and helps the employees buy-in to the change.  Organizations that use consultants as change agents can free up time for their leaders to continue work on the change on a macro level.

Keeping Motivation High

The hardest job that this writer can think of is keeping the motivation high for employees during the time of change.  As a consultant, this writer has come across many different strategies that might work but he feels that those are just surface issues and are handled with a Band-Aid.  For example, an increase in opportunity or an small increase of benefits. He has found nothing really substantial that will really take hold and change with the organizational culture. Gouthier and Rhein (2011) explored the concept of employee pride.  Employees take pride in their work and in their organization. If employees are treated badly, that pride that the employees can produce can quickly dwindle.  This dwindling can cause resistance internally and those Band-Aids will be all for not.  According to the authors, employees are emotional beings that are attached to their organization and how things are run.  Once change begins to take effect, they feel threatened that they are being pushed outside their comfort zone.  In order to keep the motivation high during these tough times for the employees and staff, the authors suggest keeping them involved and providing positive reinforcement toward the new way of doing things.  Emotional pride and motivation stems from an attachment and affiliation with the organization.  The main difference that this writer has found within his research is that organizations have stopped understanding emotions.  The phrased, it is not personal, just business, according to Gouthier and Rhein (2011) has become a phrase that is heard too often.  If organizations want to win the battle within organizational change and keep employees involved and motivated, keep them involved and participation making them feel like part of the process, realize that they have emotions attached to their organizations, and listen to your employees and their needs.

Conclusion

Organizational change is going to happen.  As the business world continues to evolve, business need to adjust to meet the needs to the client base but also stay ahead of their market and competitors.  The way that organizations change create a culture of positive change is first to understand the culture of resistance and be cognoscente of some of the characteristics that are associated with change.  This is easier said than done but it can be accomplished.  With the help of organizational consultants, organizations can begin the process and have the accountability of the consultant on their side.  Not only will this assist with the change process but will also establish trust with the employees.  Lastly during the change process, in order to keep motivations high, organizations should take into account employee’s emotions concerning change and the pride of the employees toward the organization.  There is no guarantee that the change process will be successful but writer feels like this is a good jumping off point.

References

Bateh, J., Castaneda, M. E., & Farah, J. E. (2013). Employee resistance to organizational change. International Journal of Management & Information Systems (Online), 17(2), 113. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1418458471?accountid=144789

Darling, J. R., & Heller, V. L. (2011). The key for effective stress management: Importance of responsive leadership in organizational development. Organization Development Journal, 29(1), 9-26. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/862094637?accountid=144789

Hila, C. B., & Tzafrir, S. S. (2011). Consultant-client relationship: One of the secrets to effective organizational change? Journal of Organizational Change Management, 24(5), 662-679. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09534811111158912

Matthias H.J. Gouthier, & Rhein, M. (2011). Organizational pride and its positive effects on employee behavior. Journal of Service Management, 22(5), 633-649. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09564231111174988

Smollan, R. K. (2011). The multi-dimensional nature of resistance to change. Journal of Management and Organization, 17(6), 828-849. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1022274260?accountid=144789

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