Change Management in Public Organizations Change Management Essay

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Change Management in Public Organizations

Change management involves an organization moving through adjustments to bring it into a different point in its development (Anderson & Anderson, 2001). Companies are almost always changing and growing, but when change management is involved these changes are calculated and they take place in a planned way. The goal is to move the company forward so that it can continue to grow and develop with the times. Sometimes change comes very rapidly, and other times it can take much longer.

What kinds of changes take place are also important to consider, because changes have to be managed carefully or they can get out of control and not produce the intended results (Kotter, 2011; Marshak, 2005). That can send a company down the wrong path very quickly, which is something an organization would want to avoid. Change can happen to one department at a time, or to an entire organization all at once. Leaders who prepare for and start the change process are generally the ones who have the most to lose if the adjustments do not go well, but the entire company or organization can suffer, as well (Kotter, 2011).

To avoid serious problems, the leaders of any organization have to focus on not just affecting change in that organization, but how to carry out that change in the most effective and efficient way for all involved (Kotter, 2011). These leaders also need to look at the ways in which they can mitigate resistance to change throughout the organization, so the changes are not hindered by those who do not want to see them take place. In any organization, there will always be a few people who do not want to see anything change, and getting them "on board" can take time and effort (Kotter, 2011).

Addressed here will be the issues that surround change management in public organizations, including the value of enterprise resource planning and how it can help companies and organizations affect change efficiently.

Research Question

The idea behind change management is very important. Without change, there can be no growth and development of a company that needs to move forward in order to keep serving customers and operating at a profit. Public and private organizations sometimes handle these issues differently. When it comes to change management in public organizations, the research question to be explored in this paper is as follows:

RQ - How will public organizations behave, before, during and after the change?

Answering this question will require study and insight. It will be necessary to look at the three areas of change -- before, during, and after -- but will also be important to examine how employees handle the changes and whether they influence other members of the organization. How leaders work with followers can have a strong effect on how a company handles change and whether that company makes the changes as scheduled and with as little trouble as possible for everyone involved.

Public Organizational Behavior Before the Change

Public organizations, as opposed to private organizations, are those that are operated by the government. Despite the different designation, however, they are not always that deeply different in the way they address change in the majority of cases. The goal is to make the changes that are needed as quickly, efficiently, and smoothly as possible. This is begun well before the change actually takes place. Proper planning is essential, and employees need time to adjust to the change (Phillips, 1983; Whelehan, 1995). The best way to help them adjust is to provide them with adequate leadership they can use in order to get through the changes that they will be expected to accept (Marshak, 2005).

In other words, if they feel supported in the upcoming change and they understand it thoroughly, they will be more likely to move through the changes to the organization without as much resistance. The more lead time a person has in order to make the changes, the higher level of comfort that person will likely have with those changes (Kotter, 2011). Before the changes take place, all employees need to be notified of what the changes will be and when they will take place. While it is not required to tell the employees why the changes are taking place, the more information provided to them before the change is implemented the more likely they will be to understand the change (Kotter, 2011). Understanding can lead to acceptance, which goes a long way toward moving through the change smoothly.

Public Organizational Behavior During the Change

The time period during the change is the most critical (Anderson & Anderson, 2001). This is when things can (and do) go wrong if there has not been good communication before the change. It is also when employees can decide they are not going to comply with the change, attempt to cut corners, or simply make honest mistakes because they are not familiar with the differences they have to address (Kotter, 2011). Additionally, it is not just the employees that can have trouble with the change. Their leaders (i.e. management) can also struggle to make sure the change is being implemented correctly and everyone involved is handling it properly (Kotter, 2011). Once the change is started, it has to be carried out, so there will not be any "going back" or changing one's mind, either by management or employees.

Changes are typically planned for some time, but that does not mean there cannot be glitches and problems when the change is actually being completed. Sometimes, during the change is when serious problems with it are discovered. What looked very good on paper may not translate very well in real life (Kotter, 2011). If that is found to be the case, adjustments can be made throughout the change in order to make sure it is implemented correctly and accomplishes the intended result.

The end goal and end result of the change remain the same, regardless of whether any adjustments have to be made during the actual change period. The length of time the change takes will also depend on what kind of change it is, because some of them are much longer and more complicated than others. Larger changes should be planned for a longer period of time, in order to give employees time to adjust and make sure the change is carried out successfully (Whelehan, 1995).

Public Organizational Behavior After the Change

Once the change has been completed, employees and leaders must get used to performing activities differently (Kotter, 2011). The change may be minor, affecting only one department or a few employees, or it may be a sweeping policy that affects hundreds or even thousands of people. Either way, the employees and leaders who are affected by the change will have an adjustment period. Even with careful planning and implementation, changes are stressful and can take some time to adjust to (Kotter, 2011). There are those people who will still be resistant to the change, as well, even if they know they have no choice, and even if the change is clearly a better choice and/or makes more sense for the organization. Some people are simply uncomfortable with anything different in their routine.

Because the organization is public, the change may also affect those people the organization serves. Of course, this depends on the size and scope of the change. It could be strictly internal and only affect employees, or it could be something that would have an impact on the people the organization works with in the community. Either way, the behavior of leaders and employees will be different after the change simply because the change was required (Kotter, 2011).

Additionally, people who do not like change may be fearful or uncomfortable, not knowing when another change may appear or not being comfortable with what the changing times may signal. This is to be expected, and there are no guaranteed ways to mitigate these kinds of concerns that will work with each and every leader or employee. Methods of adapting to change that work with one person may not work with another (Anderson & Anderson, 2001; Kotter, 2011).

Employees Performing the Change

The employees performing the change are very important to the organization and the community that organization serves, because they are responsible for getting the change right and making sure that everyone involved can get through that change acceptably (Marshak, 2005). They may have to deal with people who are angry about the change, or even those who are depressed over it. If the change takes away perks or benefits for a particular group, there can be some very upset people to consider.

Whether those people are internal (employees and leaders) or people that are served by the organization (customers or clients), does not really matter -- the employees will still have to deal with them, often frequently. That can become stressful and in some cases even dangerous to physical or mental health, so it is very…

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