Leading Change

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Although theories, strategies, and models do not provide explicit, practical advice, they are important tools that can help us understand our situations, identify problems, and plan solutions.  Leaders often turn to such tools when faced with organizational change.

Weiner’s (2009) theory of organizational readiness for change aligns well with my personal leadership approach because I strongly believe that the first step in change is determining whether or not the organization is ready for change.  Weiner defines organizational readiness as “organizational members’ change commitment and change efficacy to implement organizational change” (Discussion, para. 2).  This means that members are psychologically and behaviourally ready to take action.  They have a shared resolve to pursue the change and share a belief in their collective abilities to achieve the change successfully.  Without organizational readiness, successful implementation of change is unlikely.  In fact, Weiner (2009) states that “failure to establish sufficient [organizational] readiness accounts for one-half of all unsuccessful, large-scale organizational change efforts” (Background, para. 1).

I have been in a leadership role in various organizations as a lead teacher or teacher trainer.  I have witnessed first-hand the challenge of trying to implement change among organizational members who were not ready.  I believe that implementing strategies of “’unfreezing’ existing mindsets and creating motivation for change” (Weiner, 2009, Background, para. 1) would have made the members more likely to value the upcoming change and exert more effort and cooperative behaviour to implement the change more effectively.  A leader who can encourage organizational readiness will have an organization that is more likely to succeed in that change.

Biech’s (2007) CHANGE model also aligns well with my leadership approach.  I firmly believe in taking the time and effort for all members to understand why change is needed, what exactly the change will entail, how the change will occur, and how members will be involved.  These are the first 3 steps of Biech’s CHANGE model (Figure 3-2).  I have been a member under leaders who have failed to convey this information and the change has been ineffective.  As a leader, I believe in being transparent when asking people to change and a great way to start is for those involved to understand why something is changing and what and how it will change.  With understanding and acceptance, members’ organizational readiness will be higher, leading to more effective implementation (Weiner, 2009, Abstract, para. 2).

I am also a firm believer in Biech’s (2007) step 6: “evaluate and institutionalize the change” (Figure 3-2).  Unfortunately, many organizations fail to follow through once implementation is complete.  Biech states that “it is essential to encourage people and the organization to accept the desired change and to permanently institutionalize the variations” (Overview, para. 8).  Omitting evaluation and institutionalization may cause the changes to veer off course or revert back to old ways.  This may be caused by changes in members or management.  An expensive, time-consuming positive change could be easily undone if step six is ignored.

Change is inevitable in all organizations.  It can be a smooth and effective process or an expensive and chaotic one.  Ensuring organizational readiness and following a thorough model, such as Biech’s CHANGE model, help leaders make decisions that lead to efficiency and success.

References

Biech, E. (2007). Models for change. In Thriving through change: A leader’s practical guide to change mastery. Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development.

Weiner, B.J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-4-67

 

 

2 thoughts on “Leading Change”

  1. I connected with this post. I agree with you that change needs to come at a time when organizations are ready and that is where Weiner’s (2009) theory comes into play. In my workplace, I have found that too often changes come with the announcement we are ready rather than having the groundwork laid-out to support the change. In fact, we are suffering from that circumstance right now, and the result is that we must repeat processes three or four times in order to complete a single task.
    It sounds as though you are a strong leader and you care about your team. I think that goes a long way when surviving change.

    Kathy

    1. Hi, Kathy. Thank you for your response to my post.

      I have also experienced unsuccessful change processes in my workplace. I’m sure many people have; Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) state that the success rate of change initiatives is less than thirty percent and “not getting any better” (p. 235). This surely costs organizations significant time and effort since, as you mentioned, processes must be repeated multiple times.

      I found it interesting that Burnes and Jackson (2011) state that the underlying cause of failed change is a clash of values between the organization and the approach to and type of change it has adopted” (as cited in Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015, p. 235). When I reflect on the unsuccessful change initiatives I have experienced, there has been a strong clash of values: between decision-makers and other members of the organization, between the members and the change approach, or between the type of change and the organization. For example, the change approach is often misdirected, forced, and lacking communication. I’ve also experienced change that seemed like a great idea to a decision-maker but, after much time, effort and forced implementation, it was realized that it was not appropriate for the organization’s needs.

      Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) state that organizations increase their chances of success when they plan for change, address the critical factors that lead to success, and adopt a structured methodological process that matches their unique context (p. 254). Despite constant change in today’s digital world, accomplishing this remains neither easy nor simple.

      Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262. doi: 10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215

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