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Section Two

The memo written by the Chef Executive to all members of SCC outlines various issues that the council faces and the need to address them. The council particularly faces shortage of revenue against increasing operational costs, and thus the need to streamline its services so that the impending budget deficit is mitigated before causing adverse effects to the organisation. From the analysis of the Memo, there are several problems that the CEO is trying to point out, as outlined in the preceding section. Problems associated with the need to change, mitigating resistance to change, developing a framework for the change, and instituting the change can be dealt with using underlying models and change theories. This section shall discuss how these problems can be addressed by the client.

Problems

            The management of Suffolk County Council is faced with an uphill task of streamlining the operations of the organisation in order to reduce the growing budget deficit and make the council an efficient local authority. This initiative will see the council not only lose a significant number of its employees, but restructure most of its operations to ensure that the public gets better services yet at lower operational costs. This will entail relinquishing significant number of employees and resources that will be considered as redundant for effective operations. The manner in which the management handles the entire transition process will determine the success of the intended change.

The first step the management should undertake is assess the organisation for its readiness for change. Conducting change readiness assessment allows the management establish the degree of preparedness of the attitudes, conditions and resources as all levels of the organisation. The type of change that the management is contemplating to be instituted in Suffolk County Council is substantial and will affect virtually all the sectors and dimensions of the organisation. This underlines the complexity of the entire process, and thus the knowledge of how prepared the organisation is for the change will facilitate the ultimate change implementation. Conducting a change preparedness assessment allows a manager to define the scope of the proposed change to members of their organisation (Gerber, Nel and Van Dyk 1995). According to (), all key stakeholders should know the full range of components within the system that will be affected by the change. Assessing the preparedness of the council for change will also allow the management to check for factors that may contribute to resistance to change.

The propensity for members of an organisation to resist change is rooted in organisational culture. As argued by Choi and Ruona (2011), a strong resistance to change is often rooted in historically reinforced or deeply conditioned feelings. The main aim of the management at this point is to inculcate patience and tolerance among members of the organisation so that they can perceive the intentions for change positively. There are some hidden factors that have potential to increase resistance to change, and the executive management should be aware of such and seek ways of countering these. In order to study the behaviours of organisational members during the early stages of change initiation, the management can use psychological contract model to understand and manage change at the fundamental level. Nudge theory can be applied during this stage in understanding the potential hidden factors on group thinking that can hamper change.

Before the management decides exactly how they will institute the change within the organisation, it is imperative that a group of pro-change individuals be consolidated. According to Kotter (1999), this is the process in which the management create the guiding coalition for the change. Therefore, change of this magnitude will require Mrs. Mill and her executive leadership team to put together a group of individuals who are in agreement with the type of change needed by the council. Getting the right people on the bus will not only allow the management to implement the change, bit it will also act as a change agent. A county council organisation is not a typical business-oriented organisation. Such organisations are often driven by political motives and group interests. According to the opposition leader, Kathy Pollard, the need for change is driven by unrealistic strategies which can hardly be implemented, let alone be successful. This represents a strong political sentiment that can impede the change process. The guiding coalition acts as agents of change, and can be used by the management to liaise with the political groups through informing the latter on the need for change and the positive outcomes that could be realised through change. However, the guiding coalition will require skills and knowledge on how to engage different stakeholders. The problems highlighted in this section can be resolved by the management using various theoretical frameworks.

Solutions Focus

            Given the issues highlighted in the case, it is imperative that Mrs. Hill implement a strategy that will be used to initiate and oversee the change process. It is clear that change is inevitable since the organisation is experiencing a tighter budget each financial year. As outlined in the preceding section, change begin with an assessment of an organisation’s readiness or change. Change is involved in any organisational capacity development (Gerber, Nel and Van Dyk 1995). Whatever the scope of the intended change, key organisational stakeholders must understand why the change is being implemented and how they will be affected as a result.

Although the conditional and resources are important during the process of change, it is imperative that the management assess the political context within which the change will be implemented. Although the resources and conditions for change management are essential for the implementation of the process, making an honest assessment of the political economy and context within which the change will be executed is of critical significance. Mrs. Mill should analyse and evaluate the elements of change, and establish how these can be engaged in capacity development. This will facilitate change initiation and create enabling condition that will allow the organisation to overcome resistance to change. When analysing and evaluating the political context for change management, the following matrix is of essential importance.  The matrix highlight steps the management can take to address the attitudes, conditions and resources of the organisation during the process of change initiation.

 

 

Level

Dimensions Institutional/Enabling environment Organisation Individual
Conditions The management should start here for sector reform conditions. This can be done by informing members on policies, laws, systems and structure that are already in place (Choi and Ruona 2011). The management should ‘zoom in’ to the mandates, structures, governance, and systems of Suffolk County Council. In terms of individual employees, the company management should zoom in to the job descriptions of service of individual employees.
Attitudes The attitudes of individual members of an organisation should be studied by zooming out to the political environment for change. This, involved establishing what factors in the environment will inhibit and enable the change. At organisational level, the management should zoom out to the motivation and culture of the organisation to facilitate understanding of the need for change (Choi and Ruona 2011). Zoom in to the attitudes of individual members of the council.
Resources Resources that will facilitate the change are critical for the implementation of the required change. The management would zoom in to evaluate the external resources. At organisational level, the management should zoom in to organisational resources. Mrs () will have to establish whether there are sufficient organisational resources for the change. Evaluate the knowledge and skills of individual who will facilitate the change process.

The Zoom out Zoom in criteria is used during the initial stages of change implementation. Zooming in implies evaluating the finer details concerning departments, groups of individuals, while zooming out involves evaluating relevant factors in the overall environment.

In order to ensure that the process of transitioning the operations of the council is not only successful but has minimal resistance, the management will have to use change agents. Change managers/agents are needed throughout the process of change management. There are potential hidden factors that will inhibit change by reducing the thinking capacity of organisational members. In psychological contract, there are various theories that can be used in change management. For instance, nudge theory can be used by Suffolk management to understand the hidden influential factors that hinder people’s thinking. The nudge theory and its application will be influential during the initial stages of change implementation. Nudge theory as developed and popularised by Richard Thaller and Cass Sustain in the 2000s to address the issues in implementing change management (Choi and Ruona 2011). The theory assist the management to shift the thinking or organisational members regarding change, its reasons and impacts on the organisation. Since Suffolk anticipates change in its operations and strategies, the management should manipulate the emotions of its employees and align them with the reasons for change. The management will use heuristics in understanding how and why people make decisions, think and behave.

Employees are mainly concerned with the precipice of losing their jobs. The restructure means that most jobs will be relinquished, although this will not be the only target for reducing the anticipated budget deficit. More strategies need to be implemented in order to ensure that there is less operational costs. Therefore, there is need to use heuristics in understanding the reasoning and behaviour of individuals so that the management can change the direction of people’s thinking (Choi and Ruona 2011). When members of an organisation are confronted with the need for an opportunity to implement change, there is a high possibility of them being emotional. It thus becomes crucial for change managers to diffuse the emotions incited by the news about the need to change.

Lastly, the actual change implementation should be done in an effective and efficient manner. Change managers or agents become crucial during this stage. Successful change management will be done using Porter’s eight steps to successful change (Kotter 1996). Kotter’s steps to change management is essential for the Suffolk organisation because each stage during the change acknowledges pole’s response and approach to change. Using this strategy in implementing the change will allow the management to consider how employees feel about the change and how they will accept the change. The first three steps of the model is addressed in the preceding paragraphs where the management prepares the organisation for change. The fourth steps involves effective communication between change manager and organisational members to increase the buy-in rate. It is essential that during the change implementation process, the managers set targets that are easy to achieve. Change involves an organisation-wide shift of initially held beliefs and norms. Suffolk county council employees are used to secure employment, and the addition of more employees during the previous financial period initiated the belief that those who were already working had secured employment. Using the eight steps to implement the change will slowly but surely reinforce the required changes.

Conclusion

Implementing change is a critical process that must involve all parts of the organisation. The first solution was to mobilise the resources required for change and assessing the readiness for change. Assessing the attitudes, conditions and resources of an organisation is essential for the success of change implementation. In the past, change initiatives have been implemented without considering the political perspective of an organisation. This has often resulted to little impacts of the change initiatives on individual members of an organisation. However, this process requires the management to evaluate the conditions, attitudes and resources that will influence the change process (Kotter 1996). This is a challenging task especially in a public organisation that is characterised by strong bureaucratic structures. An organisation like Suffolk county council has strong organisational culture that cannot allow immediate change. Although it will be easier to establish the resources that the organisation has for change, it is relatively hard to establish how individual members think and reason towards the change. This means that there will be high chances of assumption on the perception of employees regarding change. Wrong assumptions may lead to developing wrong change strategies which will make the process ineffective. This presents the second limitation:

The second solution was to profile an effective team of individuals that will facilitate the change process. Putting together a team that will be required to train and inform organisational members about the change intention and effect is a crucial process. This is more so because change agents are selected from within the organisation. A limitation of this process arises from the fact that the management could select individuals with personal relationship issues with other employees. This means that whatever such individuals will inform employees will not be taken in.

Lastly, it has been established that using the Kotter’s eight step in implementing the change is considered as the best alternative (Kotter 1996). However, this change model is lengthy and takes a long time for the organisation to realise its effectiveness. Suffolk is experiencing an increasing budget deficit, which requires additional funding. Implementing the 8-step model requires that an organisation start by establishing a sense of urgency before creating the guiding coalition. In addition, the lengthy process will man that more resources be allocated for the change. This is constraining since lack of sufficient is the sole reason why the change is being implemented in the first place.

Recommendations

Regardless of the limitations of the solutions highlighted above, the best alternative for the organisation is to use porter’s 8-step model in implementing the change. This is due to the inherent strengths that this model has. Kortter’s 8-step model is an all-inclusive model for designing and implementing change. The first three stages of the model are particularly important for any organisation undergoing change. Managers cannot drive change through an organisation using their power. Change should be a gradual process because it entails shifting the culture and norms that have been used in an organisation for a long time.

If Suffolk county council uses this model to implement change, employees will be informed of the need to change and the impacts of the change to their welfare. Although the leader, Mrs () had stated in the memo that retrenched employees would probably not be compensated, this model will inform employees that the change does not target them but is being done for the survival of the council. Porter’s checklist approach to change management provides a strong framework for checking the process of change. Individuals within an organisation often do not have the skills required to implement change. However, Kotter’s 8-step change model allow the management to establish a guiding coalition that will oversee the entire process. Change agents can positively influence the change process by training and informing organisational stakeholders about the need for change, the process, and the impacts of the change to all members of the organisation. Implementing change using the Kotter’s model is expected to ensure that Suffolk County Council reduces its operating budget and provide services to the public. This strategy allows the organisation develop a well-crafted strategy for implementing change. This model also provides an opportunity for the management to implement change in bits, rather than struggling to implement the change at once.

 

Bibliography

Choi, M., and Ruona, W. E., 2011, ‘Individual readiness for organizational change and its implications for human resource and organization development’, Human Resource Development Review10(1), 46-73.

Gerber, P. D., Nel, P. S. and Van Dyk, P. S., 1995, Human resources management. Southern Book Publishers.

Kotter, J. P., 1996, Leading change. Harvard Business Press.

Kotter, J., 1999, Change leadership. Executive Excellence16(4), 16-17.

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