The objective of this work is for the writer to assume the role of an internal organizational change team with a special interest in human performance and development during a technology related change. The focus of this project is on the challenges and leading ideas related to ensuring optimal human performance during a significant technology-related
Organizational change is described as “any action or set of actions resulting in a shift in direction or process that affects the way an organization works. Change can be deliberate and planned by leaders within the organization or change can originate outside the organization.” (Organizational Change Primer, 2001) Additionally stated is that change “is a fact of organizational life…an organization that does not change, cannot survive long – much less thrive – in an unpredictable world.” (Organizational Change Primer, 2001)
When organizational change is planned well and implemented properly “…it helps assure the organization’s continued survival. It can produce many tangible benefits including improved competitiveness, better financial performance, and higher levels of customer and employee satisfaction.” (Organizational Change Primer, 2001)
The work of Wojtecki and Peters (2000) entitled: “Communicating Organizational Change: Information Technology Meets the Carbon-Based Employee Unit” states that change “is a constant reality in today’s workplace, causing substantial psychological stress within the workforce concerned about its livelihood and quality of life. Against this backdrop enter the Information Technology (it) explosion, bringing its unprecedented capacity for disseminating information.” (2000)
Wojtecki and Peters state that there are “…two powerful forces…surging through American enterprises with accelerating velocity: organizational change and information technology (it).” (2000) Wojtecki and Peters state that it is the human dimension that causes the “efficiencies of it applications [to] become mired and fall short of meeting the workforce’s crucial communication needs during change.” (2000)
The purpose of managing change is to effectively bring about change via the most efficient method possible. In other words, change is most successfully managed with the least uproar possible among workers and the organization at large.
Because this work has stated as its’ purpose a change management initiative that is successful, the focus of this work is to address the human capital and associated factors that present during the proposed change management and specifically due to the fact that this is an internal change management initiative that will be related to Information Technology changes. The focus therefore is squarely upon effecting this change successfully in consideration of the possible reactions of the individuals who work within the organization in regards to information technology and associated change.
Research findings support that workers tend to react negatively to changes involving “Information Technology” within the organization.
V. EXPECTED ISSUSE and PROBLEMS
The expected issue and associated problems expected in this change initiative by internal change managers is best described in the work of Qubein (2002) entitled: ‘Change: Embrace it or Resist it’ who states that it is sometimes hard for people to internalize the need for change. A naval aviator once made an interesting observation that to me illustrates the point. He said many pilots have died because they stayed with their disabled aircraft too long. They preferred the familiarity of the cockpit to the unfamiliarity of the parachute, even though the cockpit had become a death trap. Many businesses have died because their people preferred the familiar but deadly old ways to the risky but rewarding new ways. We must teach them that to stand pat is to perish.” (Qubein, 2002)
Fear is most often associated with the unknown factors that the individual faces in their immediate environment and especially in the work environment in regards to something being introduced that was not in that environment previously. Often resulting is the opinion that if it was not broken anyway, then why try to fix it? However, these trepidations nevertheless are shown in research findings to arise from fear of the unknown. The work of Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change and a trustee of MedicAlert states of change as follows:
That’s not to say that change is bad. it’s a truism, but nonetheless a valid point, that it’s vital for survival. But pretending that the apparently bad side of change is only in people’s minds, or dismissing their valid concerns, will only make it worse for you and your staff. I wonder whether the job of a manager is not so much to manage the change process as to deal with people’s genuine fears. So remember: don’t underestimate the emotional impact that change has on people, don’t ignore people’s fears, don’t lie or tell half-truths and do communicate and listen ad infinitum – you can’t do too much of it.” (Tyler, 2007)
This is confirmed in the work of F. John Rey states in the work entitled: “Managing Change: Managing People’s Fear” that “Managing change means managing people’s fear. Change is natural and good, but people’s reaction to change is unpredictable and irrational. It can be managed if done right. Rey additionally states: “Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. The front-end of an individual’s resistance to change is how they perceive the change. The back-end is how well they are equipped to deal with the change they expect.” (2009)
VII. PROACTIVE MITIGATION of EXPECTED ISSUE and PROBLEMS
How can the internal management of the organization proactively mitigate the expected issue and associated problems? That is the question posed in this examination of the change initiative related to information technology. According to the work of Rey (2009) the following will be a good start in doing just that:
1) You have to help your people understand. They want to know what the change will be and when it will happen, but they also want to know why. Why is it happening now? Why can’t things stay like they have always been? Why is it happening to me?;
2) it is also important that they understand what is not changing. Not only does this give them one less thing to stress about, it also gives them an anchor, something to hold on to as they face the winds of uncertainty and change; and 3) You need to understand their specific fears. What are they concerned about? How strongly do they feel about it? Do they perceive it as a good or a bad thing. (Rey, 2009)
Rey (2009) emphasizes that the change manager should not “try to rationalize things. Don’t waste time wishing people were more predictable. Instead, focus on opening and maintaining clear channels of communication with your employees so they understand what is coming and what it means to them. They will appreciate you for it and will be more productive both before and after the change.”
Arising from the literature reviewed in this study are recommendations as to how internal change management of the organization might effectively and efficiently bring about the Information Technology change initiative. Recommendations include those as follows:
effective communication of the change;
open door policy for feedback and questions;
newsletters communicating the change;
meetings with employees (all, groups, and individual teams) to communicate the change; change management training for management; and assessment of change initiative.
SUMMARY & CONCLUSION
Proactive mitigation of issues and problems in the Information Technology change management imitative and specifically from the view of internal change management requires that these managers address the change head-on via informative provisions to employees who will be affected by or involved in that change initiative. Because people in the organization fear and are repelled by the unknown it is necessary that the change initiative be accompanied by clear and concise information, an open door policy to allow discussion and to allow questions to be posed. Finally, it is important that key change management personnel be trained properly to handle such change within the organization effectively.
Organizational Change Primer (2000) Management Decision and Research Center, Health Services Research and Development Service, Office of Research and Development, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. May 2000. Online available at http://www1.va.gov/hsrd/publications/internal/organizational_change_primer.pdf
Qubein, Nido R. (2002) Change: Embrace or Resist it. BNET Online available at http://www.frogpond.com/articles.cfm?articleid=nqubein02
Tyler, Debra Allcock (2007) People are right to fear change – Leading People. Third Sector 4 Apr 2007.
Managing Change: Managing People’s Fear
Change is natural and good. Reaction to change is unpredictable, but manageable.
By F. John Reh, About.com 2009
Wojtecki, Joseph G. And Peters, Richard G. (2000) Communicating Organizational Change:
Information Technology Meets the Carbon-Based Employee Unit. The 2000 Annual: Volume 2, Consulting Copyright – 2000 by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, San Francisco, CA. Online available at http://www.centerforriskcommunication.com/pubs/crc-p3.pdf
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