Thursday, March 19, 2009

Profit from Change - Organizational Behaviour.

Troughs and crests are a part of the economic cycle, however sitting pretty on them is not easy...

Key learnings:

  • Change is inevitable. The process begins with denial and hence when one indulges in denial , it is a hint of the impending change
  • A successful change process is one that culminates in commitment from those subjected to change

The economic gloom has blanketed the global corporate landscape in totality. Pessimism and dejection dominate the corporate sentiment. The worker population is feeling more insecure than ever and is unwilling to see the positive side of the slump. Despite all the doom and gloom, corporate psychologists believe that there is a reason to cheer. While the sudden slump has caught people off guard, it has also ushered a new and fresher economic inning. The change, as is being said has arrived. And therefore the reaction of people is justified as change in any form first meets resistance.

The resistance one is witnessing is justified as things that people took for granted till very recently have become luxuries. Ever -increasing share prices, steady economy, better pay, and better benefits were the most obvious incentives for the worker population. However, benefits have been slashed suddenly, pay hikes have become a distant dream and job security has taken a beating. With the scenario not looking too promising, the worker population is becoming increasingly jittery and desperate. However, on the flipside is a reassurance that the scenario is better than what one has seen in the past . Jobs are intact. Careers may not flourish but survival is not an issue and things may not be down for long.

Despite the reassurance, there is no running away from the fact that change is extremely draining , especially emotionally. People feel threatened when they are forced to move out of comfort zones. Unwanted or forced change therefore results in certain definite behavioural patterns. People begin to behave in a certain given manner that reflects unwillingness to change. According to social psychologists change, especially forced change goes through four stages before it sets in the new system Each of these stages reflects a certain behavioural pattern that is found in people subjected to the change.

Process of change

Stage1-Refutation The first stage in the change process is that of refutation or denial. People subjected to change do not oppose the change but merely deny the need for it. For instance, when recession arrived leaders across the globe lived in the denial mode for some time. They refrained from declaring its arrival. They termed the slump as "just another phase" in the economic cycle and waited for the crisis to pass. However, the realisation dawned when the consequences began to have a snowball effect. It was declared that recession had in fact arrived.Thus, in case of an impending change, one must:

  • Research data and information available and see for themselves if the change is real
  • Break out of the comfort zone and seek solutions. Sitting and hoping for things to fall in place would not help much

Stage2-Resistance After overcoming denial, people find themselves resisting change. The resistance is not directed at the new ways of doing things.It however emerges from the fear of moving out of the established zone of comfort. Thus , to overcome resistance people should:

  • Fragment change.
  • Takinging small steps towards accepting change works well for people who fear venturing into uncharted territories
  • Work with a positive frame of mind. Understand that if the change is coming from the leadership then it is well-thought of and sure to enhance performance in the long-term

Stage3-Self-experimentation The third stage of the change process underscores the act of exploration and self-experimentation by individuals subjected to change. This is a stage when people begin to choose parts of change that they believe could give them instant results. When people indulge in self-exploration , it is a sign of partial acceptance of change. They are perceived to be giving change "a chance" to prove itself, but on their terms. Thus, experimentation with components of change is a good sign for change leaders. To encourage exploration of new change , leaders should:

  • Reward people who experiment with the components of change
  • Encourage people to offer constructive criticism in the context of change

Stage 4-Commitment to change This stage spells success for the new change. At this stage change becomes an integral part of everyday life. People begin to see the new way as the only way of doing things. The old way is dumped and forgotten. However, at this stage leaders must guard against employees getting too complacent with change. They should push them continuously to experiment with newer and better ways of doing things.Brooding over change only lands one in a lose-lose scenario. The better way therefore, is to take change in the right spirit and profit from it!

Reference: TheManageMentor

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