Change management addresses the issue of managing change within an organization. Organizations adopt different methods to implement and introduce change that relates to organizational structure, processes, or individual transactions within the company. The Human Resource (HR) department is usually tasked with this responsibility in large enterprises. However, the executives within a company are broadly responsible for facilitating and enforcing the change. The role of company directors has become vital in introducing any organizational change. The literature review indicates that change should be introduced gradually and rather than change itself, it is the management of change that is a more challenging task for the directors, executives, and managers of a firm. This paper aims to present findings of an interview held with a director of a private services firm regarding the changes that the director initiated within his organization. The person was directly responsible for transition period during which employees were oriented to the whole process of change and the rationale of making such changes in the organization.
Interviewee: The interviewee was Michel P. Robert of IBM, USA.
Location: Michel is based in California State and works as a change and compliance manager with IBM.
Why leading the change: Michel was designated as the official change and compliance manager in IBM and his job description required him to perform his duty as change manager for the employees of IBM. It was also his role to facilitate the transition of several processes related to technology change, cultural change, and change within the job designs of employees working at Los Gatos IBM laboratory. Being the change leader for the mentioned business unit f IBM, Michel was made responsible for change in job designs of engineers at the laboratory and technology change at the R&D unit of this laboratory.
Obstacles and barriers to change
During the interview, it was revealed that despite being an organization that innovates and brings technology-based solutions to internet and computer use, the organization faced significant change in implementing the change in use of software platforms based on different versions of technology and job designs. Since engineers at IBM laboratory remained isolated from the marketing and sales units at Los Gatos, they were now required to incorporate one member each from marketing as well as sales departments to facilitate more consumer-centric input into their product designs and final proto-types being developed at this IBM laboratory.
Building change agenda
The most visible aspect of challenge that Michel and his team of two assistants faced was regarding the development of change agenda. The rationale of making both changes i.e. change in job designs and software used at computers of engineering design department of IBM laboratory was most important to be communicated to the employees. The employees who were to be affected by these two changes were the biggest stakeholders in this change process. Getting people on board for the change to be initiated was based on an effective change agenda. There were three more steps that proved a challenge, these were:
Managing healthy attrition, monitoring the implementation, and communicating the potential challenges to team leaders within the design department. Developing a vision and communicating that vision to the concerned stakeholders, including the executives such as CEO, CFO, COO, and the employees, is the most important aspect of any change management program within an organization (Kotter, 2007). Michel told that it was essentially these two elements on which his team focused the most. If got right, the remaining process of change management was just a matter of time to be achieved successfully. Lastly, the main challenge of Michel and his change management team was to link up the proposed changes to corporate development of IBM laboratory. Creating and sustaining the changes was important for both sustainable employment as well as profitability of Los Gatos laboratory.
The most significant intangible challenge that Michel faced was regarding the introduction of proposed change in job designs of engineers at the laboratory. Since these were effectively the people who were an intellectual asset for IBM, the change process in their job designs should not have been sudden and unwelcome by these employees. There was a potential threat of disapproval by the team leaders as they were already working on time-bound deadlines for product design development instructed from the headquarters.
Beer (2000) and Kotter (2007) mentions that providing ownership of change to the teams responsible for incorporating changes is the most effective way to change transition. Same was applied by Michel but only couple of team leaders from the IBM facility actually welcomed the ideas and plan of Michel. Others were reluctant to step into an unknown territory where they might end up losing grip over their work or ability to perform well given the tight deadlines these employees and team leaders had to meet.
The outcomes of change process initiated by Michel P. Robert remained partially successful as not all the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of change process were achieved. Michel told that being in-charge of a process of change that is conceived by executives is not easy as the program involved significant change in job design as well as tools usage by the employees. The team of Michel was tasked with managing the transition of including two additional team members in each engineering design team and these additional members belonged from marketing and sales units of Los Angeles city. Since these new members to be indicted in the existing teams were considered to 'outsiders', resistance to them was significant in all expect two design teams.
Were goals met?
The key goals being established by the change management team under the leadership of Michel were:
Successfully changing the job design of all laboratory teams at Los Gatos, it was decided to incorporate cross-sectional input to be included in the design development process. The teams' performance after the change in job design was to be evaluated after every three months.
Change of software being used in the desktop platform of each team member within all the design team. The software change was aimed at reinforcing the other change of job design as the new software facilitated more cross-departmental communication and input gathering by the team members.
Michel reported that the second objective of change process was successfully introduced and sustained in the laboratory whereas the first change process could only be partially implemented. Fullan (2002) mentioned that leading change through introducing too many innovations can lead to failure of the whole change management process. Michel observed that their evaluation indicated that introducing two changes at the same time was a mistake and could have been avoided. The first change that was to modify the job design of each team member could have been initiated later. The change in use of software would have preceded the change in job design in appropriate change management plan.
The results of change and strategic management should be tested through application of effective methodologies (Bergh & Fairbank, 2002). Michel reported having made a methodology whereby it was to be assessed that what percentage of employees in IBM laboratory at Los Gatos shifted to the use of new software. Since it was optional to use the new software, the percentage of members changing their desktops to new platforms would have shown that the change was desired by the members themselves and not enforced by the management or team leaders.
A total of 85% of the employees in the facility switched over to the new platform and the rest 15% indicated willingness to switch over within second month of the change being introduced. This indicates that second objective of the change process was successfully achieved…