Whenever new business process or systems is executed in a firm, then change will certainly occur. Change Management is the process that is used to help the company, employees and partners adapt successfully to the changes taking place. Our family business is shipping and warehousing logistics business segments which was established by my father. Shipping business commenced in 1996, proceeding with a logistics segment in 2002. It all started with 15 employees initially and later it grew to 500 employees by 2006. During early 2007, with a view of diversifying, a construction of a luxury hotel catering to the needs of the hospitality segment was chartered out. The background of change handled in this essay is how we intend to change our operations back to Logistics on a whole and the development process involved in the change management of our business. In my case, however, the target for our change is the internal customers, who will realise that the change has been brought with their general welfare in consent. The facts which have been explained below are the change which is to be implemented in my family business due to present business scenario. Our main focus is on expanding the logistics business and thereby developing both our core businesses. Our interest is towards logistics because the future of Logistics world relies on India (Wordpress, 2007) and we do our operations based at Chennai, which has one of the famous and busiest cargos handling port in India. So we intend to believe in basics and develop the logistics, our core business to the next level thereby placing ourselves for the future business requirements. The change which I am going to discuss is how the company has managed and learnt from its change initiatives.
In this unpredictable business field of ours, we can't rest on our success and glory. As time and conditions change we constantly aim to improve our self and stay focused on the future. In this change management issue, the themes that are concentrated are internal communication issues and resistance factors along with the cultural issues which intended that we have to change back to logistics business on a whole, operational changes which enhance our business layout, and strategic changes which drives our business forward to success.
Communications plays a prime role in change management; failure of which is attributed to ineffective communication within the firm's employees. Keefe.L (2004) states that communication is a two-way process which deals with both management and employees. Employees have as much responsibility as the management team for speaking up, setting expectations and requirements, and communicating barriers and opportunities. Most of our business units faced a serious lack of communication between the management and labourers. The approach was top down, and it was a mainly instructions given out, rather that expert suggestions being accepted. Thus any local problems were not exposed properly, which led to accumulation of faults and delays in reporting them.
Aiken, Bacharach and French (1980) and Katz and Tushman (1979) found that patterns of communication and information flows in innovative organizations or groups were dependent on the information needs of the unit and were related to successful innovation. Our organisation was initially very keen on implementing best practices and innovation. However small the change was to be, there was no proper channel to flow of information within business units. Sometimes instructions were misinterpreted and the desired outcome was not reached conclusively. As a result the business units were followed by a domino effect, by a predictable loss in efficiency and productivity. Also any change in ongoing operations was assumed to be a constituent of instability by the labour class workers, which then coupled with ineffective communication strategies, escalated the nature of the problem.
According to Deetz et.al (1999), group communication is a central part of participative process. Scanlon system group communication is designed to facilitate innovation and problem solving. Basic idea is to share information and to solve problems. Individuals are encouraged to propose risky and imaginative solutions before evaluating their impacts on the firm. The diversification of our organisational activities created an internal political scenario which embraced the creation of sub units. An acute communication gap was developed between the top management and working employees which led to disruption in positive exchange. Also due to strategic reasons it was not possible for one single individual (My Dad) to collect and retain confidential facts. Thus a lack of transparency is created in communication, which ensures a debate from many sides. Due to these various factors mentioned above their developed a resistance against management among the employees.
Resistance to Change
According to Burke (2002), resistance is a natural human response and a defence mechanism which should be respected. Although change resistance was anticipated by the management, it was bound to reach out of control .The situation prevailing in our logistics business was also similar, where key operational and strategic objectives were met with agents of resistance. The planned execution of ideas was held up and the entire process had to be viewed in traditional way. Kirton (2003) also argues that the resistance to change forms an important feature of change management , as any blame for rejection of a proposal for change is thrown on to whom it is proposed. As a result, organisation performance is hampered due to delay in acceptance of change proposals. Resistance for change arise, when there is uncertainty within employees and the management. According to Hofstede's (2001) cultural dimensions India is ranked low in Uncertainty Avoidance factor. This factor has less impact on organisations in our culture because every small firm gives a sense of their future activities to their employees but then we as the management missed out to communicate the state of progress to the employees. Hence this resistance which occurred is due to self perceptions inherited within the culture that has prevailed over the years in our country.
"Cultural change is a form of organizational transformation, that is, radical and fundamental form of change. Cultural change involves changing the basic values, norms, beliefs, etc., among members of the organization in order to improve organizational performance" (McNamara, 2006). Deal & Kennedy (1982) argued that culture is the prime factor for any organisation rather than structure, strategy or political issues. In critical perspective the total quality and brand name for our hotel firm was diminishing due to cultural differentiation issues. The main cultural issues were the difference in people's culture which refers to the mentality of the people. A major drawback for our hotel organisation was that we basically were from urban gathering and our hotel was in a tourist spot surrounded by villages, where access to skilled and professional labour was in the lacking due to illiteracy and poverty issues. Employee attitudes were hap hazard and compliance with policy structures was minimalistic. Quality procedures were hence not met with, and disparities began to emerge. The quality of services provided did not match up to the expectations of customers. Loss of sales meant that day to day operational demands could not be fulfilled. Quirke (1995) views on culture is that, "The force of culture is for the status quo; culture is the means by which we bring stability to the threat of change". Our core business began to bear the brunt for exponential culture based issues. The innate psychology of employees began to shift from the notion that organisation was important above all changeable parameters and their future seemed to be uncertain. This started either a passive indolence or sometimes a mass exodus of workforce from within the major business segments. The formation of a conglomerate thus was a critical failure and operations had to be rolled back for deeper analysis of the problem.
The change that is going to regenerate a new pace in business, which results in motivating all the staff to involve effectively in organisation development and in turn result in self development. Kotter (1996) says that the pressure created by organisational change will be relieved if the change focuses on change issue, in addition to strategy and other organisational elements. The organisational change for us is taking the perspective of our shipping and logistics business to next level and to focus our strengths on core areas of logistics. We intend to increase the size of logistics, develop all the basic needs required and hence enabling a feasible platform for a smooth business transition. By effecting this change, we hoped to retain the best of the talent within our organisation. The extension of their full cooperation could be achieved by communicating the present and future business goals; hence deriving the end point towards expansion of the business.
Recently, we were dealing with metal scraps and non- ferrous metals in our warehousing logistics, but then after our expansion we will deal with commercial home products, snacks and confectionaries, more scraps and non ferrous items etc. Our main operation change would occur when we will be handling more cargo and containers freight increasing load capacity up to thrice our initial operations.
According to Hayes (2002) the change strategy is essentially a plan to make things happen. It needs to address all the factors needed for a change and when developing the change strategy managers should involve in each and every step of change process. The primary strategic change that is to be addressed while changing and developing strategic and operational process is our logistics expansion plan. De Wit and Meyer (2004) state that operational changes are necessary to maintain the business and strategic changes are directed at renewing them. The main examples of strategic change by them are reorganisation, diversification move, a shift in core technology etc.. In my case we intend to reorganise the core business, close out the diversification business and imply shift in core technology. The diversification of business has drop down our business on a whole and lead to huge failure. So we intend to sell the hotel business, and increase the capacity of logistics by twice as that of now and thereby take our logistics and shipping business to next level. Increasing our logistics operations on a whole is a major strategic change in our organisation. This involves building up, developing all the modern needs for logistics and making it successful by intense marketing and service. "In this technique, the emphasis is not doing "something" but rather doing the "appropriate thing." A careful analysis must be taken to determine the best possible entry points from which to create the desired change" (Cummings, 1989). For all this the basic strategy would be bring in reward system for the employees. Reward system would be based on Ricardo Semler's policy of self reward system but then ours would be slightly different and would be based on teamwork. India is a collectivist country, though individualistic style of management is on an upward trend, still collectivist activity prevails much commonly. Strategy arises constantly in every firm as different people have different perception; they respond and interpret to the sense of organisation's identity and purpose (Eccles & Nohria, 1992). There are two basic types of strategic changes in Genus (1998) point of view. They are planned change and emergent change, in his theory he has questioned whether the changes in organisation are planned ones or it is emergent changes due to situational demands. Considering Genus view in my case, the change occurring in my firm is a planned one but then it was tagged along with major time constraints. This is due to internal political reasons and competitors in the market. We had to bring about strategically devised business plans whilst reliance on fundamentals would be a key factor towards success.
Successful organisation change on whole doesn't happen as the top management of the firm says so; it happens when both management and employees of the people in the organisation involved agree to change their behaviour and works towards it. Change process includes various processes such as learning, managing and maintaining strategic change factors in an organisation. Learning process for us progressed from our failure which occurred in our hotel business and the resistance developed due to that among employees in all our business along with communication gap. This instance has given more knowledge about our employees and the state of change required for us to develop in our business to new scale. According to Throne (2000), the potential of learning from change management failure develops a new successful strategy. King and Anderson (2002) described the manageability of organisation change in term of linearity, predictability, and control. In our case the predictability of future and the control over the change management is high, because we were able to manage both the unpredicted change and loss in our business. Therefore managing the business hereafter by means of proper communication, continuous learning & development process will lead to success in organisations growth. Hence understanding the change to perfection and implementing it proper precautionary measures lead to Strategic Change Management success.
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