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Issues in Managing Changes 

When the CEO D Gray joined a small software company in Birmingham, Daxko, all he wanted was a better workplace atmosphere and wanted his employees to remain stress free. He had tried to change the whole environment of the work place. With the addition of Wii console & a 52 inches plasma TV inside the office, the office has turned into Silicon Valley more rather than Deep South. An employee has said that the workplace is just more than wonderful and he gets everything that he expects and whatever he need to an accomplish is always clearly set. The stress faced by the employees is the main reason for poor working of an organization. So manager’s main concern is the employee stress. They aim at how to reduce it. The other two concerns of a manager are to change the culture of the organisation & make the changes happen successfully. Let us see how they change the culture.

Changing Organisational Culture

The CEO of Cho Yang Ho had to face certain changing challenges. He desired to change his airline’s image from being an airline of accident prone from developing the country to an internationally strong competitor. The main focus of his company was to improve the security and safety of the airlines, which was only to be done by making some changes within the airlines working. What makes his task pretty challenging was that Korea’s hierarchical customs that teaches them to be deferent towards their superiors and elders. What Cho has said is that this situation exists in all oriental cultures.

What he did to change the culture of his organization was implementation of system approach which is aimed at the minimizing personality driven culture that was the legacy of their business managers. This cultural changed should have worked. This Airline is one of the world’s largest cargo carriers & this airline has earned 4 star rating from London aviation organization which rates airlines as per their quality.

Every organization has its own permanent & stable quality. This is the main reason which has made the organizations very much resistant to changes. Culture is something which takes a long period to form into a shape and once it is formed it becomes entrenched. The strong ones are the most resistant to changes because the employees make them a habit and it is not easy to separate their culture from their soul. It did not take a long time for Lou Gerstner, the CEO of the IBM to have a good understanding of its strong culture. He needed to over haul its ailing of the traditional strong cultured company if the company was to regain its reputation as the head of computer industry. He knew that the culture is just not a culture but it is the soul of the company. Over time, when a culture is handicapped the manager can only do a little to change the culture. A culture is something which needs a long time to grow and be stable; similarly it also needs a long period of time to change. It is not a matter of weeks but a matter of years.

Understanding Situational Factors

What are the favourable conditions which facilitates cultural change? This happens when some dramatic crisis happens such as losing a major important employee, not expected financial setback, dramatic technological changes by any competitor. This type of shock can diminish status quo & make people begin thinking about relevance of the company’s culture. Another reason can be new leaders provides some alternative key values which may have better capability to deal with the crisis faced by a firm than the old executives were. The other is that the firm is small and young.

Younger organizations have less entrenched culture. It is always easy for the mangers to make certain changes in the values and working of smaller firms. So smaller firms are subject to less resistance to changes while larger ones are more resistance to change. The other one is when the culture is too weak. Weak culture is has less resistance to change while strong culture is more resistance to change.

Making Change in Cultures

With all the conditions at right place, how mangers can change the culture of a firm? A single action cannot change a firm with strong and high values. As you can see in Exhibit 6-6 you will get to know what the managers can do for changing the atmosphere. It does not mean that following them wills actual change the cultural change. The fact is the employees of an organization cannot easily discard the existing culture which they have intake it so well, especially if the culture has worked well before. The change which is to come will rather grow slowly. Also managers shall remain alert so as to protect old familiar culture.

Issues in Managing Changes 8Employee Stress

Many weekends after working for 8 long hours as an insurance agent at Lawrenceville, April Hamby travel about hundred yards in the Kroger super market, not for shopping any grocery items but to work for more 6 hours as an account and then finally travels 35 miles to reach home and sleep at 2.am and then start the next morning at 7:00 am. It is not that she is the only person working for more than one job but during economic downturn there were many people who worked for more than eight hours daily for more than one job.

Being a student it is obvious that you too have experiences of exam stress, projects completion and different other events at schools or colleges. Then you also have stress for getting a job after graduation. But still after you get the job your stress chapter doesn’t come to an end. Organization stress becomes a stress for many. Due to different organisational factors such as overload of work pressure, time factor and other things employees have to face stress in their jobs. Depending on the survey you are looking at, in United States every year the number of employees in stress had increased from forty to eighty percentages. This is not just an America related firm problem. Work pressure stress has become universal in nature. Global studies is telling that 50 % of workers have surveyed in 19 European countries have confessed that their stress have increased during the last few years. 35 % of Canadian employees said that they are facing high job pressure which is further leading to stress. 57 % of the Japanese workers are facing high job pressure and 83% employees in India at the call centres have sleeping disorders.

In fact the managers at China are at more stress than the employees. Another survey found that about many of the employees are leaving their jobs because of over stress, interesting another study has found that employees quitting their jobs not only because of stress but mainly because of insufficient payment. So as you can stress not only stress but there are other factors which are pushing employees to quit their job.

Definition of Stress

Stress is basically the result of adverse amount of pressure which is forced on the employees and managers because of extraordinary demand, opportunities and constraints. But stress is not always bad. Stress is though discussed as negative thing but it is true that stress can also be positive if it offers potential gain. Just like the stress of a performer or an athlete before the stage show or a match respectively is very useful during the crucial time.

But stress is more associated with demands and constraints. A constraint actually prevents you doing what you desire, whereas demand refers to loss of anything you desired. Similarly when you take examination in college or is preparing for annual audit review at the work, you are stress as at this stage you confront constraints, opportunity & demand. A good review will get you promotion, hike in salary or a better job. But if the review is poor you will not get any promotion and if the review is too poor you might lose your job.

Another thing you should know about stress is, just because conditions are correct for stress does not mean it will. There are 2 conditions which are necessary for any potential stress to become an actual stress. 1st there should be uncertainty on the outcome & the 2nd the outcome should be important.

What is the cause Stress?

Stress is the result of both personal problems and professional problems. These are known as stressors. Changes of any kind may it be in personal life or job life it will cause stress as it involves demands, opportunities and constraints.

Firms have no such shortage of factor that will cause stress. Let us see the categories in which organization stress can be divided: task demands, interpersonal demands, role demands, organizational structure & organizational leadership.

The task demands are related to the employees job. This includes designs of an employee’s job (task variety, autonomy, degree of the automation) physical work layout & automation. Work quotas put pressures on the employees when the outcome is perceived. The more there is interdependence between the task of an employee $ the others the potential of stress. Whereas autonomy lessen the stress. There are job with more temperature noises ad risk factors tends to create more anxiety. Working in a crowded ambience or in visible locations where interruption is constant.

The role demand relates pressuring on an employee as the function of a role which she plays in the firm. Role conflicts create expectations which are hard to satisfy or reconcile. Then role overload can be experienced when employee has to work for more hours that what he can permit. Role ambiguity can be experienced when the role expectation is not properly understood & the employee isn’t sure about what she is supposed to do.

Then there are interpersonal demands. These are created by different other employees. When there is no social supports from the colleagues & bad interpersonal relationships could cause considerable stresses, especially within employees who have extremely high social needs.

The organization structure can also increase the stress level of employees. When there are presence of excessive rules in a firm and the employee is not allowed to rake decisions in every matter there are these possible problems that the employee has to face. The problems that affect them are basically examples of variables which can be the potential source of stress.

Then there is organizational leadership which represents the superior style of a firm’s managers. There are some managers which creates culture characterized due to tension, anxiety and fear. These establish unrealistic pressure to perform within a short run, imposes excessively tight control & routinely fire workers who do not measure up. Such leaderships put in down the entire firm and also affect the working of the employees.

The personal factors which are responsible for stress are family problems, financial problems, relationship issues, economic problems, medical problems, inherent personality characteristic. Because employee brings their personal problem to work out with them. So to understand the employees stress managers should have good knowledge about the personal problems of the firm. Evidence also proves that the manager’s behaviour towards the employees has great effect on the stress level of the employee and can also measure how an employee will react to the stress. Type A & Type B are the most common used figures used to describe these.

Type A is characterized through chronic feeling of sense of time urgency, excessive competitive drives, & difficulty accepting & enjoying leisure. Type A’s opposite is Type B. This second time do not suffer from the time impatience & urgency. Recently it was noticed that Type A mostly experience stress in the on and off job. There have been new conclusions on the bases of closer analysis. Researches tells that only the angers and hostility associated with the Type A are actually related with negative effect of stress. Type B is just the susceptible towards the same anxiety producing element. Managers should understand the fact that A type mostly are the one who shows symptoms of stress, although the personal and organizational stress or is low.

Symptoms of Stress

Stress can be seen in number of ways. When an employee is stressed he might have different problems which will result into depression, arguments, accident prone, easy distraction, & many other problems. Stress symptoms are divided into three general categories such as physical, behavioural and psychological. Exhibit 6-7 shows the description of these three categories. All these affect an employee’s mental and physical work.

There is a stress phenomenon in Japan called karoshi which means that death from extra work. In the late 1980s an awkward and weird thing happened. Several high ranking officers died without any prior reason of illness. This was due to the stress factor. Japanese Ministry of Labor took its interest on this due to public involvement. The ministry now publishes number of deaths caused by karoshi. As the Japanese multinational organizations started expanding its operations in Taiwan, China and Korea, there started the fear of increase in karoshi deaths.

How the stress can be reduced?

Our next focus is on how can we reduce the stress of employees. As we know that it is not true that every stress is dysfunctional. There are stress which also benefits the organization or any other activity. So the focus of the managers should be on the stress which is dysfunctional. It is be noted that stress is an important part of every person’s life. Now how can the managers reduce the stress of employees? This can be done if the managers offer personal help to the employees, or make the work ambience much better, or reduce the organizational pressures on the employees. This can also be if the personal stress experienced by the employees be reduced.

Employee selection is one such step which the managers can take to reduce the stress of employees. Thisis a job related factor that will reduce stress of employees to a great extend. The ability of the employees should always match with the company’s job requirement. Managers should do proper selection during the interview period, which will help them to manage later. When there is too much work pressure employees gets nervous and performs wrong activities. So a proper job interview is very needed as it reduces the job ambiguities over job expectations. When there is improved communication among the managers and employees it will let the ambiguity related stress at a minimum level. Similarly, any performance planning programs like the MBO keeps checks on the employees, provides proper job expectations during the interview round, clarifies every job responsibility & reduces ambiguity with feedback. Redesigning job also helps in reducing stress. If the managers find stress is leading to boredom or if he finds that stress is created from excessive work pressure he should immediately redesign the job as this reduce the stress level to a great extend.

While redesigning the job the new design should be such that the employees can start participating in taking decisions and gaining some social supports. This will lead to more reduction of stress. One such instance is GlaxoSmithKline, an United Kingdom pharmaceutical program is such that it allows its employees to shift assignments on the basis of the workload & deadlines. This has reduced work stress to more than 60%.

Stress which comes out of personal life of the employees causes two main problems. 1st is that this is beyond the hands of the managers to help them out and 2ndly there is this ethical factor, that whether managers should have the right to involve in an employee’s complete personal life? Now if the manager takes this ethically right & the employee is free to share his problems then the manager can try solving it down. In that case employee counselling is very important. If the employee is free enough he might want someone to share all his personal problems especially with his own organization.

This can be done through the managers of the firm or some outer persona; problem professional counsellor who can help the employee to solve out his problems that are causing stress. Companies such as AE & T, Johnson & Johnson and Citicorp provide their employees with counselling services. Time Management programs can help the employees to sort out their priority and time related problems. Some organizations sponsors wellness programs for their employees. One such example is Wellmark BlueCross Blue Shield of Des Moines, Iowa, which offers its employees a fitness program which is open for 6 days every week. On the basis of the construction of environment Cianbro, a contracting company in northeaster US provides a fitness & wellness program.

Making Change Happen Successfully

The change in organization is a continuous process in the US & around the world faced by the managers of the organizations around the world. On a research of global basis organizational changes around the world in 2000 organizations and above in Japan, Europe, Asia, United States & United Kingdom, about 82 % of the respondent has implemented organizational changes., 65 % has implemented a flexible human resources practices, 62 % decentralized operational decision. Who makes the changes happen when they are needed? Who has the responsibility of managing them? Though you might think that it is probably the top rated managers who are involved in processes but it is not true. Managers from different level are involved in this changed process.

Though managers from all levels are involved in this change process, these changes does not always have good effects. They might not become successful. A global study on the organizational change has said that though there are hundreds of successful managers in US & European countries they are dissatisfied about their ability to have good effects on changes. Now the question is how managers can make the changes to be successful? They can do the following:

  1. Make organizational changes capable.
  2. To good research about their role in the change process.
  3. Give opportunities to the employees to take part in the actual process.

Let us now look at these above mentioned suggestions:

In an ambience where there is no growth but competition is getting strong each day, UPS (United Parcel Service) is getting prosperous. But how? Because they embrace the change! The Mangers spent decades to create new global logistic businesses. They continued changing because they wanted to take advantage of every opportunity that arises from the changes. It is a change capable firm. How does it tend to be change capable firm? The answer lies in the Exhibit 6-8 which describes its characteristics.

The next component which can make the change happened to be successful is the managers to understand their role in the change process. The Mangers can & do act like change agents. Rather than being just a catalyst in the changing process they should also be the change leaders. If the employees resist changes, it is the manager who should take the initiative to lead these change efforts. Even if there is no resistance to change it is the managers who will have to provide leaderships.

Issues in Managing Changes 10The last process through which a change can become successful is through letting all the employees of the organization participate in this change process. To make an organizational change successful it is not a matter of 1 person job, rather it is a matter of involving every person in it.  Individual employees- the most powerful resource in a successful change process are needed to be guided and supported by the managers. Just by assigning some new procedures and new work to the employees is not going to make the change successful. For that managers have to take initiative and build up the atmosphere for them to take the changes and new challenges. It is the mental support that all matters. The day to day work of the employees can finally cause the change. According to research 77% changes occurs out of the reaction caused by any particular current problem.