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Strategic change

Strategic change

How and why do middle managers support and resist strategic change? 1,000 words (40%)
Minimum mandatory reading
Senior, B. and Swailes, S. (2010) Organizational Change. 4th Ed, Harlow: FT Prentice Hall
Conway, E. and Monks. K. (2011) Change from below: the role of middle managers in mediating paradoxical change. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(2): 190-203.
McCann, L., Morris, J. and Hassard, J. (2008) “Normalized Intensity: The New Labour Process of Middle Management.” Journal of Management Studies 45(2): 343-371
Sharyn E. Herzig and Nerina L. Jimmieson, (2006) “Middle managers’ uncertainty management during organizational change”, Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 27 (8): 628 – 645.

Change management isn’t being employed as it ought to. In a telling statistic, leading practitioners of radical corporate reengineering report that success rates in Fortune 1,000 companies are well below 50%; some say they are as low as 20%. The scenario is all too familiar. Company leaders talk about total quality management, downsizing, or customer value. Determined managers follow up with plans for process improvements in customer service, manufacturing, and supply chain management, and for new organizations to fit the new processes. From subordinates, management looks for enthusiasm, acceptance, and commitment. But it gets something less. Communication breaks down, implementation plans miss their mark, and results fall short. This happens often enough that we have to ask why, and how we can avoid these failures.

Inside the Transform Software at IMD, through which management deal with true transform problems from the very own firms, We have worked exceeding 200 executives from 32 nations, all whom are fighting to respond to the shocks of rapidly developing market segments and technology. Although each company’s particular circumstances account for some of the problems, the widespread difficulties have at least one common root: Managers and employees view change differently. Both groups know that vision and leadership drive successful change, but far too few leaders recognize the ways in which individuals commit to change to bring it about. Top-level managers see change as an opportunity to strengthen the business by aligning operations with strategy, to take on new professional challenges and risks, and to advance their careers. For many employees, however, including middle managers, change is neither sought after nor welcomed. It is disruptive and intrusive. It upsets the balance.

Elderly professionals consistently misjudge the impact in the space on their relationships with subordinates and so forth the time and effort required to obtain acknowledgement of modify. To close the gap, managers at all levels must learn to see things differently. They must put themselves in their employees’ shoes to understand how change looks from that perspective and to examine the terms of the “personal compacts” between employees and the company.

Exactly what is a Private Portable? Employees and organizations have reciprocal obligations and mutual commitments, both stated and implied, that define their relationship. Those agreements are what I call personal compacts, and corporate change initiatives, whether proactive or reactive, alter their terms. Unless managers define new terms and persuade employees to accept them, it is unrealistic for managers to expect employees fully to buy into changes that alter the status quo. As results all too often prove, disaffected employees will undermine their managers’ credibility and well-designed plans. However, I have observed initiatives in which personal compacts were successfully revised to support major change—although the revision process was not necessarily explicit or deliberate. Moreover, I have identified three major dimensions shared by compacts in all companies. These common dimensions are formal, psychological, and social.

The professional measurement of the private compact is easily the most acquainted part of the connection between staff members along with their businesses. For an employee, it captures the basic tasks and performance requirements for a job as defined by company documents such as job descriptions, employment contracts, and performance agreements. Business or budget plans lay out expectations of financial performance. In return for the commitment to perform, managers convey the authority and resources each individual needs to do his or her job. What isn’t explicitly committed to in writing is usually agreed to orally. From an employee’s point of view, personal commitment to the organization comes from understanding the answers to the following series of questions.

Men and women come up with reactions to those queries in large part by checking their romantic relationship using their manager. Their loyalty and commitment is closely connected to their belief in their manager’s willingness to recognize a job well done, and not just with more money. In the context of a major change program, a manager’s sensitivity to this dimension of his or her relationship with subordinates is crucial to gaining commitment to new goals and performance standards.

Employees measure an organization’s traditions from the interpersonal measurement in their personalized compacts. They note what the company says about its values in its mission statement and observe the interplay between company practices and management’s attitude toward them. Perceptions about the company’s main goals are tested when employees evaluate the balance between financial and non-financial objectives, and when they determine whether management practices what it preaches. They translate those perceptions about values into beliefs about how the company really works—about the unspoken rules that apply to career development, promotions, decision making, conflict resolution, resource allocation, risk sharing, and layoffs. Along the social dimension, an employee tries to answer these specific questions: Are my values similar to those of others in the organization? What are the real rules that determine who gets what in this company? Alignment between a company’s statements and management’s behavior is the key to creating a context that evokes employee commitment along the social dimension. It is often the dimension of a personal compact that is undermined most in a change initiative when conflicts arise and communication breaks down. Moreover, it is the dimension along which management’s credibility, once lost, is most difficult to recover.

What am I meant to do to the organization? What help will I get to do the job? How and when will my performance be evaluated, and what form will the feedback take? What will I be paid, and how will pay relate to my performance evaluation? Companies may differ in their approach to answering those questions, but most have policies and procedures that provide direction and guidelines to managers and employees. Nevertheless, a clear, accurate formal compact does not ensure that employees will be satisfied with their jobs or that they will make the personal commitment managers expect. Unfortunately, many managers stop here when anticipating how change will affect employees. In fact, performance along this dimension is tightly linked to the other two.

The emotional sizing of a individual lightweight addresses elements of the employment romantic relationship that are mainly implicit. It incorporates the elements of mutual expectation and reciprocal commitment that arise from feelings like trust and dependence between employee and employer. Though often unwritten, the psychological dimension underpins an employee’s personal commitment to individual and company objectives. Managers expect employees to be loyal and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and they routinely make observations and assumptions about the kind of commitment their employees display. The terms of a job description rarely capture the importance of commitment, but employees’ behavior reflects their awareness of it.