The change leader should feel confident about the change if decision criteria are driven by impartial and objective considerations and his position is based on organizational, mission, vision and strategies. Then leader should try to convince all employees on objective and factual grounds while also taking care of their emotional issues. If leaders do not behave well and control their own emotions then employee morale gets affected. "Most executives do a good job of communicating a strong sense of urgency to effect change and move people out of their comfort zones. This often launches a flurry of activities in the right direction to start with. However, sustaining the quality and level of activities is a different ball game. For the abstraction that is called business, it requires more than organizational structure, incentives and job descriptions to have a multitude of people work in a concerted manner towards a common objective -- it requires a shared vision. It is one, in which everybody has a role to play, everybody clearly understands his or her role, and everyone knows 'what is in it for me?'" (Chakraborty)
The importance of good communication in change management is that it would foster participation from the right quarters of change agents. Absence of good communication could undermine the change effort for various reasons. Most importantly, it would create ambiguities and uncertainties in the minds of employees who would be in constant need of reassurance during the initial change effort which is the most formidable stage in change process. Also, ambiguities and uncertainties would create a perception of low level of commitment on the part of the leadership. This would not only affect the morale of the employees adversely but would sent out wrong signals to agents of status quo who would feel entrenched more deeply and could generate cross currents that would further lower the morale of all the employees.
Importance of Communication
Clear and honest communication is a prerequisite for bringing about change in organizations. In some organizations the level of mutual trust and employee morale at its lowest ebb due to various reasons and requires adept handling. So, the prerequisite for initiating and maintaining the change in organizations is, therefore, straight forward and honest communication. Communication is further needed to share information which is the single most source of empowerment in this age of information revolution. The change, unless duly empowered through correct information, would remain ineffective in bringing about the desired change. Here the example of Serco Solutions, a change management consultancy can be given when it acquired the it services company ITNET in December 2004. "HR was right at the centre of Serco's change process, says Morgan-Jones, change director at Serco Solutions, with senior managers using road shows to get the message to a total of 85% of staff in the first three days. "We wrote to people at home; we did a desk-drop of invitations on the morning of the announcement, and we sent targeted e-mails,' recalls Morgan-Jones. "There was absolutely no reason for people not to know what was going on.' The HR department carried out a staff survey a few weeks after the acquisition, to identify the "levers for change," and designed development for staff accordingly. This meant, for example, that managers could move from an environment based on strict hierarchies to one based on self-empowerment" ('Change management: 10 biggest agents of change', 2006).
HR department and its managers play their due role as change agents by communicating intended messages to all those concerned in the event of changes taking place in the organization. For example when restaurant chain Nando's planned to increase its number of restaurants the communication of business plans to prospective managers became important. In order to facilitate the change big events were arranged each year in which company's functional heads presented the plan directly to restaurant managers and assistant managers. Not just managers but other staff members were also given importance as a member of staff was also elected to meet quarterly with senior management. All these activities were facilitated by HR department that acted as change agent.
Management of Emotional Quotient
As embodied in the modern human resource management concepts, managing feelings of employees is an essential component of management as employees are no longer expected to check in their brains and hearts at the company gates. So, in management of change, sentiments and feelings become crucial as people wish to stick to the old, tired and tested strategy or culture not just because they have a sense of ownership or because there is great sense of security associated with it but also they develop a sentimental attachment to the earlier mission, vision, goals, strategy or culture.
So, effective feelings management is a natural outgrowth of effective change communication which could minimize dissonance. and, effective change management is one which would communicate change intention effectively that would, in turn, induce, change in behavior which would reinforce believe in change thus galvanizing faith in change in providing further impetus to the momentum of change. So, caring and affectionate change leaders are needed.
However, care and affection is not the same as *****-footing on principles. Managers need to be very clear and sure about the principles to which all committed organizational members must come up and the art of managing lies in selling these principles to all members so that they may see and accept them. The human element is taken care of during the process of selling the principles and not on compromising on them. So, there is always a danger that care and affection might be misinterpreted as waffling on principled stands required essentially for bringing about change. "Change agents must act as 'voices of conscience' when any mid-course corrections are contemplated. It is the responsibility of change agents to make sure such issues get a complete airing in order to avoid the project ending in failure. One effective change agent summed up the attitude needed: 'My primary goal is to ensure this project succeeds, no matter what. My secondary objective is to preserve my personal relationship with all senior management.' The best change agents are tactful and diplomatic. 'Political skills' are necessary, not so change agents can join in the game, but so they can better understand it"(Tan and Kaufmann).
A good example in the management of feelings was seen when four years ago global snack giant Nabisco became the owners of United Biscuits. The company appointed Les Bacon as change manager. The change in management resulted in a new centralized approach of management as opposed to autonomous functioning of a number of businesses and factories. Change manager worked to facilitate the whole process for which they also took the help of occupational psychology company Kaisen. The purpose was to gain the deep understanding of how changes could affect the people and how they can manage tasks as well as emotions.
Empowerment as Change Tool
Empowerment is the next step in implementing the change philosophy. Opening the financial information for employees and making them understanding organizational goals is not enough. Employees must be empowered to take action based on the basis of their understanding of different situations and scenarios within the organization. This empowerment will develop their problem solving skill and they will become a part of the big picture. Whether employees are working individually or they are part of the cross-functional teams, HR departments and organizations today give employees the freedom and responsibility of making independent decisions. In order to win the trust of employees an organization must show reliance and confidence in its employees and their decisions so in return they could facilitate key process of organizational change.
Appointment of Change Agents
The solutions recommended by management bring about changes of both short-term and long-term nature. Change agent is usually appointed in such scenarios to herald changes. Change agents help management in executing the change plan leaving them to focus on the operational aspects. Sometimes it happens that management underestimates the seriousness of the problem and they go about addressing the issues themselves as a result of which they are unable to concentrate on the business and the problem worsens. A detailed change plan is generally made that includes all the details of the whole process, training needs of personnel and requirement of resources etc. Change agents with only clear goals in mind go about implementing change plan while taking in confidence all the stakeholders.
External vs. Internal Change Agent
It has been noted that mostly external agents of change have not been victorious in promoting change but in some cases they have also been successful. External agents have some advantages over internal change agents. The first and foremost advantage is that external agents do not care about office politics and criticize practices in the organization that others cannot. Political and other official concerns are of least concern to these agents. Since they are not from any particular department they can easily communicate to and access…