Effective Leadership: Implementing change
In today’s volatile economy landscape, changes are inevitable and necessary. Continuous organisational developments and restructuring are vital for survival and growth. Therefore, it is important to identify growth opportunities in order to ensure the organisation’s sustainability and at the same time overcoming their weaknesses (Cranfield University School of Management, 2010).
However, organisational change generates resistance in employees, making it challenging for successful implementation. Moreover as organisation expand, the challenges of implementing change will be greater due to diverse environment. Leaders can lead/motivate employees towards the achievement of goals in time of change. They process the quality traits which create vision and direction to motivate employees to strive harder towards goals. Also, they can facilitate employees in overcoming challenges and resistance induced by change. Leaders also have power to communicate, influence and negotiate employees away from the harmful cashes of conflicts (Robbins & Judge, 2008).
The objective of this report is to determine how the modern day organisation in this research can make use of effective leadership to implement and achieve successful change. It will provide more insights on how leaders can identify factors that bring about change. Discussion will be carried out on how to diagnose change factors and identify threats/opportunities.
Next, the report sets to determine the impact of communication styles of the leaders on organisational cultural values. Communication plays an important role in the change process as it helps employees to see the need for change. It also highlights the importance of the affected parties’ role in the whole change process.
The report will also examine suitable leadership style which will help with transformational change. Effective leadership translates to effective communication and overcoming resistance. Furthermore, leadership is crucial to identify, lead and manage change.
Lastly, this report will set to understand how leaders overcome employees’ resistance within the organisation. It is of paramount importance for leaders to implement appropriate solutions in order to minimize resistance and maintain sustainability of new change.
BACKGROUND OF ORGANISATION
The organisation in this research is an Indonesian IT firm specialising in the importing/exporting of self-manufactured laptops. The Singapore regional office was established four years ago and has staff strength of twenty five direct employees. It has a local regional manager in-charge of running Singapore’s daily routine operations. Since its establishment, the regional office has been experiencing deficits in their income statements.
The organisation emphasizes on a tall organisational structure, where top-down hierarchical authority is being practised. Decision-making is made by the head office in Indonesia without any effective communication with the regional office. Quarterly review meetings are held with regional manager to only report on business performance that the regional office is currently experiencing.
Owing to a lack of demand for IT peripherals due to the worldwide economic meltdown in 2009, the regional office had recently carried out a retrenchment exercise as a cost-cutting measurement. Prior to the recent downsizing exercise, each of the thirteen departments was led by a supervisor. Each employee is expected to keep to his/her individual job scope and is held accountable for all his/her actions. Strict protocols for individuals are laid out and upward interactions are usually not encouraged.
The decision for the recent exercise came straight from the head office without any consultation with the regional manager. The retrenchment announcement was made through email and did not state any future plans for the remaining employees. After the downsizing exercise, the remaining employees have low morale, little sense of pride in their work and are alienated from the management team. Employee absenteeism and turnover rate has been increasing. This change has lead to further deterioration of productivity and quality of the products that are offered by the regional office.
3.1 Sampling Schedule
In order to define situation concisely and to gather comprehensive information on objectives for the study, the research design methods of interview and personal observation is carried out for this case study. Before primary research is conducted, a group of respondents from regional office is selected for an interview to obtain their opinions. For this selection, ‘non-probability sampling’ (Quota Sampling) is carried out. The sample audiences (quota) are to be made up of ‘potential leaders’ of the regional office. They have direct and regular interaction with head office. They are someone of a seniority level, with leadership capabilities and have the power to influence subordinates. The sample audiences are identified to be the regional manager (whom is accountable for the operations of regional office) and the human resource officer (who is responsible for the linking of employees-related policies and organisational strategies). For personal observation, it will be done by researcher of this study in her course of work as a regional sales executive (In charge of generating sales revenue).
3.2 Methods of Gathering Data
(*There is limitation of the research design as it all measures information entirely from the regional office’s prespective. This might result in possible biasness/prejudices from common method variance. Primary and secondary research time-frame is in Appendix B)
Observation is done by researcher to obtain informal visual assessment of the regional office. Events associated with the objectives are monitored, accessed and recorded. Structured observations are carried out in her course of work for the visual assessment of the organisation as a whole so that the behavior is carefully documented to ensure its validity/reliability.
For this study, direct interview is more efficient and accurate due to small staff strength of only twenty-five. An interview study is held in order of the initial development of interview questions, the conducting of interviews, followed by data analysis. Two identified interviewees whom have interactions with the head office would be interviewed. The interviews (Appendix A) are carried out in the research direction to comprehend actual work practices, procedures, structure and embedded problem/issues faced by the organisation.
3.3 Secondary Data
In order to provide in depth assessment, there is also the collection of secondary data. Besides using the online search engines for obtaining information on objectives and findings; books and journal databases (existing articles on literature review and case studies) are the main sources of references. Frameworks obtained are verified using different sources in order to validate the research findings without subjecting them to any form of prejudices. The results from the interviews and personal observation are analyzed with comparisons to secondary data.
4.0 LEADERSHIP AND CHANGE
4.1 External Macro Environment
As head office is unfamiliar with Singapore’s working environment, leaders do not have proper business strategic plan and this would bring about disastrous consequences. Decision making are based on day-to-day responses by the head office. They have no sense of urgency to develop a long term strategic planning as they lack an external consultative opinion on how to operate the business. They also do not have good leadership skills to develop effective strategies as they had only focused on the situations at-present and eventually lost sight of main objectives. Perhaps this could be due to the differences in the cultures, where Singaporeans being highly efficiency is a stark contrast with the more laid-back mindset that most Indonesians possess.
The need for change encompasses within all organisations in order to cope with the rapid environmental influences. The business environment is defined as a concept whereby external forces play a major role in the successes/failures of any organisation. By paying attention to the wider environment, leaders can identify threats/opportunities to ensure effective planning and implementation of change (Brooks & Weatherston, 2000; Griffin & Ebert, 2006).
4.2 PEST Analysis
Hayes (2007) and Robbins & Judge (2008) agree that PEST analysis will allow leaders to examine the external macro environment in which a business operates and search for evidences of change. Understanding the impact and situation of external forces would help identify factors that could possibly bring about change within the organisation.
Griffin & Ebert (2006) and Hayes (2007) concur that political change will pose threats or create opportunities for any organisation. It has a huge influence upon the regulation of businesses and the possible spending power of consumers. It is important for organisations which are exposed to international risks as the political stability of different countries will affect operations and ultimately, revenues. It consists of elements like regulations set by the government on business practices, acceptable business conducts within an economy, environmental management legislations, labour law, international trade regulations, tariffs and political stability.
Economic factors refer to the condition of the trading state in which the business operates in. It includes exchange rates, money supply, changing consumption patterns and power and trade cycles. All these factors will impact the operation and decision making of an organisation. For example, in an economy in which the organisation is in is experiencing economic growth. The organisation would expand leading to change and leaders must establish control during the transition period. Leaders must develop a new vision, direction, new plan and to allocate resources properly to deal with the change (Hayes, 2007).
Socio-cultural factor consists of having the elements of customs, moral values and demographics of the society where the organisation operates in. It affects business ethics and operations across countries so leaders must be mindful of the different customer preferences within national boundaries. For example, MacDonald’s do not sell pork items in its menu in Singapore due to the differences in religious practices in the multi-racial environment; whereas in Thailand this acceptable. Change in employees’ attitude towards education, work and leisure which will impact on labour force and consumption demand. Leaders should produce a working environment that is conductive enough to motivate them and improve efficiency (Hayes, 2007; Griffin & Ebert, 2006).
Technology is defines as innovations applied into society and organisations to carry out tasks. Some examples are level of investment in Research and Development (R&D), availability of new materials and new production process. Technology is constantly changing and hence staying ahead of competitors has been increasingly difficult. Organisation must have the latest equipment, processes and resources to deal with technology change. Leaders must make sure that organisational structure, vision and resources align with technological aspect. Leaders must ensure that sufficient funds are allocated on R&D for better technology to improve competitiveness and gain competitive advantage (Griffin & Ebert, 2006; Hayes, 2007).
4.3 Findings: Implication of PEST and SWOT Analysis
The interview findings (Appendix C) show that the organisation adopts a top down approach management style by the head office in Indonesia. PEST analysis is recommended so leaders in Indonesia will be able to improve on its decision-making process as it allows them to assess Singapore’s market potential, situation and business development. It encourages proactive thinking and allows them to plan ahead.
With the analysis, leaders will know their present position, environment and how they can develop in the future. As they do not understand the impact and situation of external factors; they will need PEST to understand Singapore’s regulations, labor market, economy, customers, competition and technology. The analysis at external level helps to identify opportunities and threats of the external environment. With PEST, there will be detailed preparation and formulation of strategic plans, good leadership skills can be deployed to anticipate change and align business’s vision. The regional office will have better decision making process, productivity, competitive advantage and sense of belonging in employees. An example of the PEST analysis of the organisation is as follows:
Singapore’s Regional Office -PEST Analysis
* Data adapted from Morrison’s website (2009)
External Environment Factors
(+) / (-)
Strict Government Legislation in Singapore
Labour Law (Singapore)
Political Instabilities in Indonesia
Decrease in Consumer’s Demand and Investments
Stable Money supply
Consumer’s Change in Preference and Attitudes
Attitudes towards Work and Employment
Technology Revolution and Development
R & D
New Production Processes/Ideas/Innovation
5.0 LEADERSHIP AND COMMUNICATION
5.1 Communication Barriers
The lack of communication, especially in terms of feedback from employees whom are familiar with the local demands of customers, coupled with stringent cost cutting measures could said to have contributed to poor sales performance. Many consumers are unaware of products that the regional office is offering due to lack of budget in generating brand awareness. Comparing to the bigger players whom have higher levels of economies of scale, it would definitely lose out in terms of its revenues.
The regional office does not hold any weekly meeting within departments and there are no consultative approaches. Head office’s quarterly meetings are only held with regional manager to obtain report solely on its current business performances. There are no established channels to voice employees’ feedback to the head office and it often results in a lack of information for proper accomplishment of tasks. Without proper communication structure, there is no room for improvement and employees will commit the same mistakes repeatedly. This would also mean that the head office would be unfamiliar with Singapore’s working environment, which would result in ineffective communications amongst the employees.
Robbins & Judge (2008) stated that communication is the ‘life support’ for any organisation and it plays a vital role in the change process. Communication links people who believe in a common cause and unites them with a common vision to achieve goal congruence for the organisation.
5.2 Styles of Communication
5.2.1 Downward and Upward Communication
Leaders would engage in top-down communication to disseminate information/goals, inform job procedures and highlight problems (Robbins & Judge, 2008). Gilley et al. (2009) argued that in times of change, leaders must provide employees with abundant and value-added information with regards to change. Leaders must give justifications for rationale for change and also address employees’ concerns. Well-developed rationalizations are more likely to be accepted as employees’ acceptance and participation depend on their perception of personal benefits associated with the change. Hence, proper explanation and feedback is important for leaders to work on in areas of change to increase employees’ acceptance.
Upward communication is used by employees to provide feedback, inform progress and issues towards goals to leaders. It is important for leaders to know about how employees feel and to allow for opportunities for growth and improvement. Upward communication has its limitation whereby leaders are overwhelmed and distracted. Employees’ morale would be affected as it would be time-consuming and demoralizing if it is difficult to get their leader’s attention (Robbins & Judge, 2008).
Hayes (2007) exclaims that without proper upward/downward communication, it will lead to ‘organisational silence’ which is a major barrier to change. One illustration within the cited organisation – Due to Indonesia’s culture, leaders like to be respected and will disregard negative feedback from subordinates as a form of attack on their credibility. A culture might be cultivated whereby employees might be afraid to voice out the truth to their leaders. It is a double-edged sword when employees do not highlight issues to leaders and leaders will find it tough to get employees to accept change.
In times of change, leaders must acquire a diverse set of effective communication techniques to convince employees to embrace a new ‘breakthrough’ (Robbins & Judge, 2008). In contrast, leadership ambivalence reduces acceptance to change and increases resistance. Communications should be regular, motivating and yet achievable. Unfulfilled vision will weaken leadership credibility leading to employees feeling a sense of injustice. Gilley et al. (2009) explain that employees whom experienced unjust treatment would be resentful towards their superiors, thus destroying commitment. Being honest and fair when things go wrong enables employees to accept an undesirable outcome. Therefore, there is a need for realistic and truthful communication that includes communicating negative aspects of change implementations when necessary.
5.2.2 Communication Strategy
In every change process, communication plays a big part for leaders to ensure a smooth transition. There are five basic communication strategies (Hayes, 2007):
Spray and Pray – Showing all the information and hope others can understand and share the vision. The effectiveness is low as it depends on employee’s perspective of what is important. One major drawback is that the employees would be overloaded, thus increasing resistance.
Tell and Sell – Leaders would only communicate the core issues that relate to the change and pushes the idea for acceptance. This strategy is a one-way-communication process without any channels for meaningful feedbacks to express concern. Employees will tend to feel uncommitted as little input is required from them.
Underscore and explore – Similar to the “Tell and Sell”, but the sender listens to the receiver’s feedback to prevent misunderstanding. This is a very effective communication method as leaders would listens to employees’ concern to clear embedded doubts/queries.
Identify and reply – This is a reactive approach as leaders will listen and respond to the employees’ concerns which would guide employees out of complexity. One short-coming is that employees might not be aware of the critical issues currently hence, it might be time-consuming.
Withhold and uphold – Most of the information are withheld and employees are unaware of the real situation. Leaders who adopt this strategy are power-oriented and think that employees are not capable enough to handle core issues. This strategy will lead to dissatisfaction and mistrust amongst employees.
Communication can be an effective tool in shaping organisational cultural value in motivating employees, providing feedback and reinforcement during the change. This would foster an environment with better decision making process to deal with obstacles (Gilley et al., 2009).
5.3 Findings: Implication towards Effective Communication
Base on the interview findings (Appendix C), the organisation adopts the ‘Withhold and uphold’ strategy to deal with the downsizing exercise. As leaders in head office are power-oriented due to Indonesia’s culture, they make decisions without consultation with regional office. Subordinates are expected to carry out requests of the retrenchment in exacting detail. As there are no justifications for the change and unable to express concern, employees are feeling resentful and thus causing the high turnover.
There is also lack of proper downward/upward communication between the two offices. It leads to the improper sharing of information which results in inefficiency. One recent incident that happened that illustrates this effectively. The Head office had instructed the dealers to return an outstanding consignment of laptops and they had made arrangements to ship it back to Indonesia. However, this message was not communicated to the regional sales executive. She was unaware of this agreed communication, continued to send e-mails, reminding the dealers about the outstanding consignment. Such miscommunications inevitably tarnish the organisation’s reputation as the dealer was very unhappy and spread this among other dealers. She was made responsible for this miscommunication and feedbacks by her were rebuked. As remaining colleagues felt unjust for the sales executive, the miscommunication drove conflict between head office further and aggravated the misunderstandings and hostilities. In the long run, with only top down communication and no feedback, it will lead to organisational silent with disastrous consequences.
As the main problem lies with the internal communication of the organisation, leaders needs to resolve the problem by setting up basic structures to promote effective communications. For the head office to improve relationships with employees, internal communications must consist of the ‘personal touch’. Electronic communications cannot be a substitute for personal interactions. Going forward after the retrenchment, leaders should convey messages personally to their employees as this allow opportunities to clarify complex or sensitive issues.
Leaders must foster an open environment, using “underscore and explore” strategy which allows feedback as communication is a two-way street in any change process. Leaders must have an open-mind to be more receptive to new ideas from employees. Regional manager should hold weekly meetings within departments to gather information and feedbacks. It would help employees to understand and follow up with the outstanding issues and for the managers to establish their authority. Constructive feedback from employees would help to identify problems which help the organisation to improve. By keeping employees informed and involved with the implementation of change programs; it would help increase the commitment levels and increase productivity.
6.0 STYLES OF LEADERSHIP
6.1 Leadership Role in Change Process
The organisational structure emphasizes on top-down hierarchy authority and major decisions are made by the head office. The top-down leadership approach and strictly-defined job scopes reduces the employees into becoming merely “cogs of the machines”, where they would merely perform the bare minimum within their stated job scopes, with minimal dedication to what they do. As such, everyone will only specialize in what they are doing, without a clear picture of the main business objectives, which impedes innovation and quality improvements. Weak leadership is also shown by the surprise retrenchment exercise, which caught many employees in the regional office off-guard. Without proper leadership to establish/lead new direction after the retrenchment, it eventually might be a possible factor that would lead to the downfall to the organisation.
Kotter (Senior & Fleming, 2006) emphasise that in all change process, effective leadership is needed to establish direction (develop vision/strategy), align members (communication to gain cooperation/acceptance), motivate and inspire (leading members to overcome various barriers) and overcoming change.
6.2 Transactional Leadership
Robbins & Judge (2008) indicated that transactional leadership would ultimately influence employees into the direction of achieving pre-established organisational goals by being task-oriented. Transactional leaders aim to maintain the status quos by making use of contingent and monetary rewards for effort and good performances. They would state their expectations; establish rules and procedures, and emphasize a fair deal with their employees. When work is allocated to employees, the leaders would expect them to take full responsibility. If the tasks are not performed to expectations, employees would be held liable. Hence, it is important for leaders to engage in open forms of communication to bring about mutual trust between employees and themselves. Contributions should be acknowledged and rewarded by the leaders towards their employees according to the industry standards, so as to bring about job satisfaction.
However, Hoogh et al. (2005) argued that stringent goals, rules and procedures due to transactional leadership would only promote stable work environment with high degrees of structures. It results in employees having little ambiguity in pursing the goals. The lack of ambiguity would help ensure fairness and set straightforward guidelines. Moreover, with stability, it would not promote inducements or opportunities for change. Employees would not be motivated to perform beyond expectations. They would not be flexible and innovative enough to response quickly and effectively to environmental change; it would be difficult for the transactional leaders to bring about change.
6.3 Transformational Leadership
Kotter (Senior & Fleming, 2006) & Robbins & Judge (2008) agree that transformation leaders goes beyond transactional leadership by inspiring members to achieve goals, paying attention to their needs and encouraging new breakthrough in goal attainments. They will make use of charisma (providing vision, direction and gaining trust), inspiration (using communication/symbols to get things done), intellectual stimulation (promoting participation and problem solving) and individualized consideration (treating individual members equally/individually) to handle change. Transformation leaders will encourage followers to be more innovative and creative to increase efficiency. Hence, Followers would push beyond boundaries to pursue ambitious goals/vision of organisation, be more committed and will pursue it with due importance. Transformation leadership is able to induce higher levels of motivation and satisfaction leading to higher performance. There will also be lower turnover, higher productivity and lower stress levels.
Transformational leadership is critical in helping mangers to identify change, which would in turn aid them with leading and managing change by ensuring effective communications and encouraging acceptance. Transformational leadership will ensure vital planning and design assumptions to allow leaders to recognise change by paying attention to the external environment, financial resources, and company staffing. In addition, it ensures proper management of formal and informal relationships between members to increase change momentum and improve managerial change interventions. Finally, it helps to overcome employee’s resistances when the organisation is disturbed by initiatives to change (Karp & Helgo, 2009).
6.4 Leaders’ Checklist for Leading Change
Every leader can adopt a process perspective on change management on top of the above-mentioned leadership approaches by adopting a ‘checklist’ to control the change process and ensure smooth transitions (Kotter, 1999).
Establishing Sense of Urgency – Leaders must alert employees to need for change by creating a sense of urgency. They should begin examining the organisation’s external environment and communicate these findings to induce aggressive cooperation of employees and motivate them to change.
Forming Powerful Coalition – Leaders should form a competent strong team with expertise and have sense of urgency to kick start the change process. Leaders must lead the team to assess the problems, identify opportunities and change the mind of oppositions.
Creating Vision – The coalition team would need to create a shared vision to clarify the possible attainable directions, thus providing a guideline about organisation’s future to the employees. It must be flexible to encourage involvement and develop strategies to deal with the change. Leaders must allocate ample time to develop the shared vision so that it would be ingrained as a strong set of shared values.
Communicating the Vision – Leaders should communicate the vision as it would establish the direction, commitment and learning within the organisation towards the structural changes. They must use every method to communicate the new vision and strategies to ensure that employees understand and make short-term personal sacrifices in order to help the organisation achieve its goals.
Empowering Others to Act on Vision through Leadership – Good leadership skills are needed to lead transformational change and raise demands that are consistent with overall change effort. Leaders must remove obstacles and encourage risk taking to generate more creative actions to support the vision. Leaders must make use of compensation to encourage employees’ acceptances of new vision.
Planning and Creating Short Term Wins – Leaders should plan, and create visible performance improvements and reward employees involved in the change improvements. As changes cannot take place overnight, it should be implemented in phrases, allowing time for maturity. The short-term goals in phases would act as a source of motivation in continual efforts for change.
Consolidating Improvements and Producing More Changes – Leaders should capitalize on early wins but should not declare victory too early should there be any possible amendments to the winning efforts; and use that as further motivation for continued and subsequent changes. Next, leaders should use increased creditability due to short term improvements to overcome the current structures that are not in alignment with the vision.
Institutionalizing New Approaches – Leaders need to ensure that change is consolidated by showing employees how change has produced optimal performance. Every opportunity should be taken to demonstrate the benefits and reinforces this change till they are anchored into the culture as norms.
6.5 Findings: Implication for Style of Leadership
Hoogh et al. (2005) argued that transformational leadership would work well under conditions of challenge and rapid technology/market change. As the organisation in this research is in the fast-paced technology industry, there will be many challenges; it thus can be concluded that transformational leadership would work better in this organisation as it would help to overcome innovation and quality issues imposed by its rigid and restrictive structure.
To overcome its weak leadership discovered in the interview findings (Appendix C), the leaders in head office should make use of transformational leadership to achieve goals and establish strategies. It will boost employees’ innovation and creativity to increase efficiency. They would be more motivated to achieve goals, be more committed to help achieve business objectives. There will be higher motivation levels leading to higher performance, and subsequently, increased employees’ satisfaction, lower turnover, higher productivity and better performances.
On top of transformational leadership, the organisation can adopt the checklist (listed in 6.4) to ensure effective transition due to restructuring. The checklist can help to establish/reinforce vision, objectives and strategies. It would help to improve communication channels and to increase the sense of urgency necessary for change to occur. Most importantly, it would improve leadership skills, increase empowerment, increase motivation and continued changes within the organisation.
To help employees refocus on the organisation’s ultimate objectives, leaders should also provide a copy of the organisation’s strategic plan which includes the organisation’s mission, vision, policies, organisation chart and strategic procedure on how goals can be achieved to its employees. This would help create a clear direction for individual employees and serve as a guide for increased commitment and motivation levels (Broadbent, 2010).
7.0 LEADERSHIP AND RESISTANCE
7.1 Resistance to Change
There is a high turnover rate after the silent retrenchment but leaders in the head office only realized the disastrous consequences when talented individuals begun to leave the organisation. Everyone in the regional office is adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude. They are unaware of the current goals of the organisation, thus leading to low commitment levels. Normally, employees are usually coerced into accepting change so they will only react to change along a conservative line. With these changes implemented by the head office, it has triggered high levels of resistance amongst employees.
There is also no proper training programs were implemented to induce employees into new changes, resulting in no job security assurance. There is a lack of opportunity for employees’ participation and involvement as head office was not supportive and would insist on doing things their way. For example, the regional sales executive whom is in-charge of the quarterly IT exhibition-cum-sales event has no-say with regards to the marketing strategies. Suggestions made were often rebuked and ignored, with instructions to only follow strictly to the procedures given to her.
Hayes (2007) and Kotter (1999) concur that organisational change would put a stop to habits and start new beginnings. Even when change is well planned, employees might still resist the proposed change. This is due to factors such as the intrinsic human nature of having resistance and low tolerances to change. Employees would have different levels of resistance due to different emotional turmoil. Therefore before any change effort, it is important for leaders to understand employees’ responses in order to have a smooth transition.
7.2 Approaches to Overcome Resistance
Kotter (1999) has indicated six assessment methods on how leaders can deal with employees’ resistance.
7.2.1 Education and Communication
When leaders communicate ideas, it would assist employees in seeing need for change. Education and communication help when resistance is due to the inadequate or inaccurate information available to the employees. It would help establish good relationships, ensure smooth transitional change and facilitate acceptances of change but yet reduces confusion by understanding the different perspective of individuals. However, this method is time-consuming so leaders must ensure that the right audience are being addressed.
7.2.2 Participation and Involvement
When leaders involve employees during the change process, they can reduce resistance by winning their support. This can be done by listening to affected employees and listening to their suggestions. This approach is good when leaders do not have sufficient information required to bring about change or when employees involved have high resistance. In this way, employees who have participation would be more committed to the change process and better perspectives can be suggested. However, leaders must ensure that participators would help in designing an appropriate approach to avoid time wastage.
7.2.3 Facilitation and Support
Through facilitation and training of new skills, leaders can provide employees support. Support can be through rewarding contributing employees. Examples such as giving time off after a demanding period, outings to foster working rapport and provide opportunities for upgrading/training. This is most helpful when change resistors experience fear and anxiety due to adjustment problems. Leaders must ensure that there is sufficient time, money and patience to increase the success rate of this approach.
7.2.4 Negotiation and Agreement
By negotiating agreements, leaders can offer incentives to resistors to compensate them for their losses. For example, higher wage rates in return for a change in their job scopes. Leaders can adopt this approach when the affected parties with significant power to resist the change are losing out due to the implemented change. However, leaders must ensure that there is no possibility of blackmail or risks of being over-powered. Leaders must also keep minimize cost as many resources would be used to implement this.
7.2.5 Manipulation and Cooperation
When suggested methods cannot resolve the issues or are too expensive, leaders can resort to influencing individuals. By manipulating the flow of information and conscious structuring of events, the initiating party can influence the affected individuals into thinking that an imminent crisis is coming and the only solution is for change to occur. Manipulation by using co-optation gives leaders a desirable role in the change progress, with the objective of having endorsement and inputs in the change process. However, leaders must not over-manipulate as it will lead to future problems such as strikes or mass resignations.
7.2.6 Explicit and Implicit Coercion
Coercion should be the last resort for leaders to implement unpopular change swiftly. This method will force employees to accept the change by explicitly threatening them with the loss of job/promotion possibilities. This approach is fast and will overcome any forms of resistance. However, leaders should control the risk involved to ensure that employees will not lose motivation, trust and respect due to such coercion methods.
7.3 Findings: Implications towards Overcoming Resistance
Based on the interview findings (Appendix C), the retrenchment resulted in employees’ resistance to adapt to the new processes or alignment with new strategic goals which will in turn hamper organisation’s performance. To overcome this, leaders in head office should take time to explain/communicate any upcoming change. This would put employees at ease, resulting in increased enthusiasm/commitment levels. The exit interviews of leaving employees had revealed that retrenched employees are unhappy over the breakdown in communication and the management style. They commented that leaders should be honest and fair when things go wrong so that employees are more able and willing to accept an undesirable outcome. They had suggested that with open communication and feedback, leaders can gain new insights in order to improve and motivate employees towards common objectives.
It is recommended that regional manager should hold regular meetings with employees to update them on any impending new strategies and to reinforce current goals. The head office should create a task force (consisting of the regional manager and employees) to assist them with the designing and implementation of future change in order to increase empowerment/overcome resistance. Together, they can develop an optimal change plan which would result in the engagement of aggressive cooperation of other employees and motivate them to acceptance of the suggested change.
Negotiation and agreement should be carried out as employees would be more likely to change if there is some form of ‘trade off’ (increased job security, better compensation, more authority and a better working environment). Leaders should also facilitate and support employees in the change process. As downsizing would lead to a strain in human resources, they should give employees time-off after a demanding period. Training will be another solution to equip employees with sets of new skills and to cope with increasing technological advancements. This would in turn, increase job security as well as improve their confidence on adapting to the change process that are being implemented.
The optimal solution to resolve the weak leadership inherent within the organisation is for the head office to delegate someone in the regional office to run the daily operations and lead the change process. The regional manager should be given this authority and to implement own decisions which are agreeable to the head office. Being local, he will have a better understanding of Singapore’s environment, operating procedures, the legal system and personnel’s behaviour. He can react to change and opportunities faster thus increasing competitiveness over the business rivals. Given the responsibilities, he will also be more thoughtful and cautious in strategy planning as he would be held accountable.
The organisation might also wish to hire a professional business consultant. The consultant will meet up regularly with the management in head office and the regional manager to provide advice, direction and assistance to facilitate major change. As they are hired from outside, they can offer a more objective perspective. They also have more experiences in controlling the change process so that it occurs at the right speed and direction. By doing so, the organisation can better manage the process and achieve their transformations with minimum disruptions. They can also assist the regional manager to take on better leadership roles in managing the head office’s journey to the future desired state and achieve organisational goals.
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