Leaders provides direction and guidance by establishing a clear vision for the organization, motivating, and guiding the employees through the work process to build morale. The majority of leaders in modern organizations understand that change is inevitable due to evolving consumer tastes and preferences. Change often creates a feeling of uncertainty, especially in cases where the employees perceive their jobs to be under threat. Unfortunately, evidence from company-wide surveys and industry reports indicate that the implementation of change in an organizational context is mostly unsuccessful. The majority of leaders in modern organizations are yet to understand the essence of effective communication when implementing change in an organizational context. A two-way communication strategy not only facilitates effective communication but also encourages the active engagement of the stakeholders. Failure to involve the employees create feelings of mistrust over job security uncertainty. Leaders in organizational context consistently probe the business environment for change requirements to improve organizational performance by responding to unmet consumer needs. Increasing awareness of the inevitability of change in organizational context has created the perception that organizations need to learn quickly. One of the conflicting issues regarding the implementation of change in an organizational context is the continued application of the shareholder perspective by some leaders. Organizational change is no longer a process rather than a continuous development approach to transforming an organization by reorienting organizational processes and systems to match changes in the business environment. Conversely, the continuous development approach to change management in organizational context emphasizes a gradual but continuous transformation of the organizational processes and systems to match changes in the business environment. Organizational culture refers to a combination of shared beliefs, norms, and values that guide the behavior and interpersonal relationships between people within the organization.
Leadership and Organizational Change
Leadership in an organizational context is the action of leading people by providing direction and guidance to achieve organizational goals and objectives. The leader provides direction and guidance by establishing a clear vision for the organization, motivating, and guiding the employees through the work process to build morale (Ambrose & Amado, 2004). The role played by a leader is particularly important when implementing organizational change because leaders act as change agents. Change is inevitable in an organizational context as a result of the evolving consumer taste and preferences that demand a proactive response to sustain a competitive advantage. Therefore, leaders in organizations play the role of change agents by influencing the behavior of the stakeholders involved in the change process (Burke, 2017). The increasing inevitability of change occurring in organizational context necessitates a critical review of the current knowledge on the subject matter to provide valuable insights for leaders in modern organizations.
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State of Knowledge
The majority of leaders in modern organizations understand that change is inevitable due to evolving consumer tastes and preferences. Advancements in technology have accelerated the rate of globalization by improving access to knowledge and shared experiences across different consumer groups. The shared experiences have contributed to evolving consumer tastes and preferences by exposing consumers to new possibilities and options (Bevan, 2011). Therefore, it has become a daunting task for modern organizations to keep up with the constantly changing consumer tastes and preferences. The inevitability of change occurring either in the micro or macro-environment of an organization has improved recognition among leaders in modern organizations. A growing number of leaders are recognizing the importance of proper planning and engagement of key stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of change in an organizational context.
Unfortunately, evidence from company-wide surveys and industry reports indicate that the implementation of change in an organizational context is mostly unsuccessful. A PEW report revealed that 30% of the proposed changes were successfully implemented (Cummings & Worley, 2015). The poor outcomes associated with implementing change in organizational context are attributed to poor communication and lack of engagement of all the stakeholders involved in the change implementation process.
The majority of leaders in modern organizations are yet to understand the essence of effective communication when implementing change in an organizational context. As a result, implementation of change often fails because leaders fail to communicate clearly the goals and objectives of the proposed change to the relevant stakeholders. In most cases, a one-way communication strategy is utilized to issue instructions and delegate duties to respective stakeholders (Falcone & Tan, 2013). However, a one-way communication strategy fails to motivate the employees because their input is not valued in the decision-making process. It is essential for the leader to communicate with the subordinate staff why the proposed change is necessary and how it will impact their daily duties and responsibilities.
Change often creates a feeling of uncertainty, especially in cases where the employees perceive their jobs to be under threat. Feelings of uncertainty yield resistance to the proposed change. Besides the employees, failing to inform the investors of how the proposed change will influence their financial obligations and benefits is a recipe for failure. Investors expect returns on investment, therefore they should be properly informed how the proposed change will affect their earnings and contributions to the company (Burnes, 2003). The customers should also be appraised about how the proposed change will affect their brand experience. Regulatory authorities as well as the local communities should also be involved if the proposed change requires their input. Entrekin and Scott-Ladd (2013) propose a two-way communication strategy to ensure all the stakeholders are informed of the proposed change and allowed opportunities to provide feedback and essential input.
A two-way communication strategy not only facilitates effective communication but also encourages the active engagement of the stakeholders. Active participation in the change process is lacking in most organizations implementing change brought about by macro or microenvironmental factors (Hayes, 2018). Some leaders believe they can implement change without consulting the relevant stakeholders, especially in cases where they have proposed the change. The illusion of power can be blinding for many leaders in modern organizations to an extent of overshadowing their judgment on critical leadership issues. Unwittingly, several leaders in high-profile organizations have tried to implement change without involving the relevant stakeholders, particularly the employees. Investors in most cases are informed because change often has significant implications on their returns on investment (Frank & Harrington, 2017). The customers are also appraised through marketing campaigns because the organization exists to serve their needs. However, employees are often overlooked because they are perceived as expendable human resources necessary to meet the needs of the investors and customers.
Unfortunately, the failure to involve the employees create feelings of mistrust over job security uncertainty. As a result, the employees are most likely to resist the proposed change. Active engagement of all the stakeholders is therefore essential to elicit the support of all the involved parties in the implementation process. It is prudent for leaders in modern organizations to seek the input of all the stakeholders in the decision-making process to ensure their views and perspectives are articulated in the final outcome (Halkias, Santora, Harkiolakis, & Thurman, 2017). Participation in the decision-making process creates a feeling of engagement, which motivate the stakeholders to support the implementation process.
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Organizational Change Practices
There are consistent and conflicting practices and outcomes related to change implementation in modern organizations. Leaders in organizational context consistently probe the business environment for change requirements to improve organizational performance by responding to unmet consumer needs. There exist a consensus among leaders in modern organizations that change is inevitable due to the rapid pace of globalization that is influencing the evolution of consumer needs (Goksoy, 2016). The recognition is attributed to increasing awareness of the need to implement a customer-centric approach rather than a market-oriented approach in product development and marketing. A customer-centric approach demands that the needs of the customer inform various business operations rather than following market trends.
Increasing awareness of the inevitability of change in organizational context has created the perception that organizations need to learn quickly. Not just departmental learning but a company-wide approach to learning that equips the employees with skill and knowledge to rapidly respond to changes in the business environment. Therefore, the training and development of employees have become a core function of the human resource development strategy (Frank & Harrington, 2017). As the world becomes increasingly less predictable and more uncertain, learning should happen in the flow of work. Moreover, the focus of the learning process should be to enable the stakeholders to be able to participate in making sense of the rapidly changing world. In the foreseeable future, the ability to quickly adapt and apply new information will be more valued than any hard or soft skills that employees may possess. Making sense of the business environment the organization operates in is an essential enduring capability that modern organizations must harness.
One of the conflicting issues regarding the implementation of change in an organizational context is the continued application of the shareholder perspective by some leaders. Some leaders of notable modern organizations continue to utilize this perspective in spite of mounting evidence that the stakeholder perspective yields better behavioral and organizational performance outcomes (Entrekin & Scott-Ladd, 2013). The shareholder perspective fails to stimulate successful organizational change because it fails to provide a 360-view of the issues that may influence the performance of the organization. The views and opinions of some stakeholders such as the employees are not articulated in the decision-making process. Thus, the implementation of the proposed change elicits resistance from the employees. Omission from the decision-making process creates a feeling of mistrust among the employees as they feel less valued and engaged by the senior management in spite of their contribution to achieving organizational goals and objectives (Halkias, Santora, Harkiolakis, & Thurman, 2017). Therefore, the stakeholder approach remedies the engagement problem by involving all the stakeholders in the decision-making process. Employees are considered important stakeholders of a modern organization, therefore their participation and engagement in the change process are imperative.
Organizational change is no longer a process rather than a continuous development approach to transforming an organization by reorienting organizational processes and systems to match changes in the business environment. Traditionally, organizational change was perceived as a process that concludes after the set goals and objectives have been achieved (Goksoy, 2016). Periodically, a company-wide survey was conducted to highlight areas that require improvement or change to improve organizational performance. The company-wide survey involved a comprehensive assessment of the business processes and systems to identify the changes necessary to improve organizational performance. The change requirements identification process would inform the appropriate engagement of the relevant stakeholders to implement the proposed changes.
Conversely, the continuous development approach to change management in organizational context emphasizes a gradual but continuous transformation of the organizational processes and systems to match changes in the business environment. Rather than deploying best industry practices to achieve rapid change, a growing number of modern organizations want genuine changes where the general direction is well-defined and all the stakeholders are involved in achieving the proposed change (Cummings & Worley, 2015). In this context, organizational change is not about having a set of goals and objectives but rather achieving results shaped by the process of learning.
Leaders in modern organizations also agree that implementing change is about facilitation rather than coercion. To promote sense-making as well as enable learning and engagement, leaders ought to become facilitators or change agents. In today’s modern organizations, facilitation skills are becoming increasingly valued and appreciated because the focus is creating transformation. Rather than holding company meetings to delegate instructions to the subordinate staff, leaders are expected to actively engage the stakeholders as well as facilitate the change process (Entrekin & Scott-Ladd, 2013). Leaders are challenged not to rely only on their leadership and management expertise, but also develop people skills that will enable them to inspire and motivate people involved in the change process.
Impact of Organizational Culture and Leadership have on Change
Organizational culture refers to a combination of shared beliefs, norms, and values that guide the behavior and interpersonal relationships between people within the organization. The organizational culture defines how business operations are conducted by the respective stakeholders. Therefore, organizational culture is a significant strategic variable that leaders can leverage when implementing organizational change (Bevan, 2011). A leading culture of driving successful change in an organizational context is a blend of practice and theory. It is both thought-provoking and engaging to enable smarter decisions and actions related to the organization’s change activities. The culture of an organization is an important aspect when implementing change because change requires a degree of transformation. Therefore, the organizational culture must support flexibility and encourage creativity and innovation. According to Goksoy (2016), culture controls the organization’s expression of change. Therefore, the organizational culture must support the idea of a learning organization. A learning organization experiences constant transformation as change involves new learning at the level of the individual, group, and the intergroup.
When the change strategy is incompatible with the culture of the organization, the strategy fails. Modern leaders sometimes find themselves trapped within the current market dynamics unable to escape the influence of established cultural perspectives as they try to navigate serious strategic change. As a consequence, it is imperative for modern leaders to develop a conceptual and practical framework to enable them to understand how the organizational culture influences the dynamics of implementing change (Falcone & Tan, 2013). The conceptual framework is essential to understand how organizational culture controls expression, particularly how members of the organization express their perception of the impact of the strategic change to the organization.
Leadership can be an enabler or a hindrance to organizational change. According to Cummings and Worley (2015), leadership is in most cases the biggest source of resistance to change. Leaders understand the business case for implementing change and some are its biggest advocates. However, a significant percentage impede organizational change because it requires them to cede control. Ceding control to enable organizational change diminishes the power of the leaders in the organization. As a result, several leaders in the organizational context respond unconsciously with behaviors that reveal their innate struggle to adapt to the very change they are advocating. Resistant to change is negative precedence to implementing change because leaders are supposed to be change agents. If leaders are unable to embrace change, others might feel emboldened to resist the proposed change.
On the contrary, leaders can enable change by supporting the active participation of all the stakeholders and providing the required resources to achieve the proposed change. This is besides establishing a two-way communication strategy to ensure the active participation of all stakeholders. In addition, creating a shared vision that is clearly aligned to the organizational goals and objectives enables organizational change (Burnes, 2003). A shared vision is evidence of leadership efforts to break down silos and encourage the cooperation.
Leaders provide direction and guidance to achieve organizational goals and objectives. The guidance and facilitation role of leaders is essential when implementing change as it influences behavior and organizational performance. Therefore, leadership can either unable or hinder organizational change. Leaders enable change in organizations by playing the role of change agents by influencing the behavior of the stakeholders involved in the change process. On the other hand, leaders impeded organizational change by responding unconsciously with behaviors that reveal their innate struggle to adapt to the very change they are advocating.
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