Change management is an unpredictable change implementation process that is often faced by many organizational challenges. Below is a reflective essay based on my experience of change in a construction company as it was transforming due to restructural growth. Basing my reflection on Smollan’s (2006) work, I will identify my cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to my changes and those of my supervisor. I will also apply six essential assumptions about change management to my experience and recommend better approaches that could have been more appropriate.
A personal experience of change as an employee was during the restructuring of my construction company. The change involved the recruitment of new employees and the promotion of the existing ones to accommodate the company’s growth. While I remained in the same position, most of my peers were promoted to higher levels. Remaining in the same position for years in that same company is what made me extremely bitter and confused. Besides, I only learned of the changes through my peers when I saw them shift offices. The change was neither communicated effectively nor was it just. However, my supervisor stepped in to comfort me and assure me of my success journey.
With reference to Smollan’s (2006) work, in my reflection on my experience of change, I was first cognitively filled with an extreme feeling of anxiety. I was emotionally drained, with sadness, bitterness, and anger. Although the thoughts of incompetency and guilt almost won over my self-esteem, I felt the urge to respond and not stoop low. I felt that the decisions were not just and the communication was partial. It is these cognitive and affective feels that affected my behavioral response where I wanted to resist and quit my job. However, thinking of the consequences, I opted to seek advice from my supervisor. He stepped in to rebuild my confidence and encouraged me to put in more effort. Having influenced me to accept and believe in the changes, I was ready to work in my position and exceed expectations.
Applying my experience to the week 1 reading and a reflective context, below are essential assumptions about change management. First is the theory that for managers to establish change and achieve the desired outcome, they have to instill formal control processes. Contrary, managers should come down to the employees’ feelings and emotional responses. The employer-employee relationship should be interactive where everybody is included in making the change decisions. It is through interactions and proper communication that the managers will identify possible challenges and establish solutions with the aim of successful change management. The second theory explains the popular belief that successful change is only made possible by giving a precise statement of the company goals and visions. Although a clear vision gives the direction and esteemed focus on major goals, it is not a pre-requisite for disseminating change. Giving visions is more of a managerial practice that encourages and insightfully motivates employees. Contrary, change management is based on a far-sight practice where all stakeholders are actively involved. Another assumption is that change management is effected by a strong set of values and organizational culture. Successful change only requires coalitions and mobilization of all stakeholders. The change agents or managers should prioritize more on proper communication, relations, and understanding, rather than the culture. These aspects are achieved through transparency and observing ethical values. That way, employees will believe in and trust the employers when change is introduced. Besides, non-official coalitions ensure that every individual speaks and contributes towards the focus and goals of the organization. Ten Have, Graamans, and Ten Have (2019) also discussed the change management theory of change being a scientific and formal practice. However, change is like leadership. It can be enabled by any influential individual irrespective of their position or level. It is the property of one’s influential nature from both formal and informal interactions. Thereby, the urge to inspire, influence, and establish a successful change in practice is the most critical requirement. Taking change as a very huge transformation requiring specific and well-established goals, objectives and plans is an assumption on change management. It is this theoretical structure that makes the change in an organization an ambiguous process that has to drain the managers before it actually performs. Change management should be done in a simple, easy, and inclusive way. Paying attention to the employees’ activities, practices, attitudes, and beliefs are key in establishing change. This makes it a smooth process with minimal or no resistance as the workers welcome and embrace it. The last assumption states that there is a specific formal methodology of applying a change in an organization. The underlying lesson and pre-requisite for change agents to understand is that the process of change management should be interactive. There is no particular established way to use. Besides, what worked for one organization will not certainly work for another. Consequently, continued interactions and coalitions will ultimately distinguish what to do versus what not to. Change agents and managers have to be keen in critically understanding their employees and how to handle them.
Dialogic development would be a more appropriate approach to change as it is more intentional and encompasses the needs and preferences of all stakeholders. The approach is more employee-centered rather than dictatorial. It brings out change as a gradual process that entails shaping the ways of thinking of each stakeholder. Practically, the process begins by slowly understanding the people through their normal practices and ways of communication. What follows is the influential aspect of diverging conversations to positive experiences and eventually, the desired outcome or change is established. Another approach that would best fit my situation at the construction company is Hamlin’s (2019) six phases of managing change. The approach involves first identifying the need or purpose for the change and communicating it in-depth with the stakeholders. The next stages involve analyzing the potential challenges, inclusive strategic planning, and preparations. Once the employees have completely learned and are ready, the change is then implemented. Finally, the change agents work in sustaining the change and bringing out its metrics.
Change management should be a chronological process that takes into account the needs and preferences of all stakeholders. Change agents should prepare individuals before randomly introducing a change. Inclusion, collaboration, and coalitions are the key elements of a successful change management process. Proper communication should also be enhanced to promote a good relationship between followers and managers. That way, the change will be accepted and welcomed with no resistance.