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Organizational Culture and Change Management
Every organization has its own culture that guides its operations. Organizational culture is defined as a system of beliefs, values, and assumptions that are shared and that determine the behavior of people in an organization. People in in organizational settings are so strongly influenced by these shared values that they perform their duties, act, and dress in line with them. Noteworthy, organizational culture is related with change management. An organization needs to embrace change from time to time. Failure to do this would mean that the organization risks remaining stagnant as its peers and competitors advance in their operations and profitability. In this respect, an organization should know how to handle its organizational culture in effecting new changes in its system. This paper compares and contrasts different management models as may be applied to change management with respect to organizational culture.
The perceptions of organizational change and the wellbeing of managers are greatly influenced by the organizational level. According to the demand-control management model, an employee would be well placed to manage their job demands if they are allowed to control their jobs. However, Lindorff, Worral and Cooper (2011) contend that this management model may not be ideal for all levels of organizational management. The argument goes that in the case of executives, they can less strenuously manage their demanding jobs since they can easily control the situation owing to their management positions. For instance, executives can modify their strategies or even delegate tasks. Contrastingly, lower job control is experienced by lower level managers in line with their positions. I agree with the arguments of this article concerning the demand-control model of management. It would not give forth to a good organizational culture. This is because, in my opinion, the top level managers would be exercising utmost control over the lower level managers and this would not be healthy for an organization. In essence, it is usually the lower level managers performing the bulk of organizational tasks as compared to the executives. Often, the top level managers often delegate their responsibilities to the junior managers. Out of respect to the hierarchy of management, the junior managers always perform the delegated duties without questions. As such, it is true as posited by the article that effecting change in such an organization would be an uphill task since the top management would thwart such efforts in all ways possible.
There are also management models that can work well in managing change through change agency. According to Barratt-Pugh, Bahn and Gakere (2013), organizational change management is always an uphill task that can turn out to be a process that is both lengthy and emotional. As such, it requires those managing change to negotiate skillfully. It calls for a management model that is based on a strategic human resource approach. The approach should be about activating, engaging, and communicating with employees throughout the process of change. This can save an organization the pains of having to deal with out-placements, redundancies, and transfers after a change would have been effected. It is further observed by Barratt-Pugh, Bahn and Gakere (2013) that during the process of change, employees and managers fall under two classes: the recipients of change (employees) and the agents of change (managers). I am in agreement with this classification since managers are the decision makers in any organization. They thus have to be the ones to bring in and effect relevant change(s) within an organization. The responsibility of the employees as part of the organization is to receive, accept and work with the change in the best interest of the company.
In comparing the demand-control management model to the one discussed by Barratt-Pugh, Bahn & Gakere (2013), it is clear that both models recognize managers as key players and decision makers within an organization. Maagers are usually charged with general organizational control and giving direction to other junior employees about the activities of an organization. Another important point noted by Barratt-Pugh, Bahn and Gakere (2013) is that there would be need for “mutual adaptation” processes whenever an organization is to undergo any change. The implication here is that the change process would need to accommodate the considerations of both the top management and junior employees. Now here is where a contrast comes in between this management model and the demand-control one. In the latter, in my view, the top management would want to continue exercising immense control and would not want to be subjected to the same change adaptation processes as their junior colleagues. This is where the issue of resistance to change could set in. it would take a proper and workable HR strategy to tame this menace.
The remedy to resistance to change lies with the change agents, who are largely managers. I believe they can make it easy for the other employees if they can accept and embrace the change first before the other employees. In addition, they need to consider the employees while effecting organizational change by, for instance, allowing them to change without having their work disrupted. I also share in the belief that behavioral organizational change should be enhanced by ensuring that the recipients of change are involved in the formation of organizational vision; one that they would gladly support. Lasting and successful change is only achievable if the recipients and agents of change have good interpersonal relations between them.
The article by Verbeeten & Speklé (2015) talks about a management model known as new public management (NPM). This management model suggests that an effective management control should be designed based on three ideas. The following are the ideas: in order for an organization to improve in terms of performance, it should adopt a culture that is result-oriented and whose emphasis is on outcomes and not processes or inputs; performance management by organizations in the public sector should be informed by incentives, monitoring and targets, and; decision rights should be decentralized by organizations in the public sector and that public sector organizations should rely less on procedures and rules. However, the effectiveness of these NPM ideas is disputed by Verbeeten & Speklé (2015). According to a study conducted by these scholars, internal deregulation would have little benefits. This is because the idea of “letting the managers manage” would not work well for the objectives of an organization. The findings of the study also indicate that organizational performance and a results-oriented culture would be positively affected by procedures and rules. I am in agreement with this observation since it is only through strict procedures and rules that desirable results may be achieved in whatever task.
It is further observed that if separated, policy development and policy implementation can be less effective and less beneficial. The findings of the study by Verbeeten and Speklé (2015) instead pitch for strategic decentralization as a performance booster. The idea here, in my understanding, is that the development of a performance policy should be informed by how the policy is to be implemented. A poorly formulated policy would definitely be difficult and challenging to implement. In this view, the NPM model and the demand-control model have grounds for comparison. Both of them give managers immense control powers. The NPM model encourages managers to “just manage” without giving due considerations to laid down rules and procedures. Similarly, the demand-control model allows managers to exercise job control by enjoying supreme authority and delegating duties. My candid opinion on these two management models is that both are likely to fail in the context of organizational change.
Another important management approach or model concerning organizational management and culture is known as differentiation approach. As explained by Hill and Carley (2011), this organizational management approach maintains that organizational culture should be created and adopted in line with the informal social relationships of employees. The argument here is that culture should be treated as a phenomenon whose emphasis is on the fact that the members of an organization would have different perceptions over an issue at any given time. As such, an organization should understand and appreciate that the sharing of practices, values, and meanings should be guided by the sub-cultural boundaries of employees. Looking keenly into this approach, I get to notice some contrast between it and the NPM model. As has been seen, the NPM model requires that policy development and policy implementation should be done independently. However, working with the differentiation approach would require an organization to take into account the various perceptions of employees as it develops and implements policies or organizational change. As such, there would have to be a connection between the development and implementation of policies.
Differentiation approach could also come in handy with respect to diagnosing who might resist a change and the reasons for which they become change-resistant. As noted in an article in Harvard Business Review, individuals and groups of people can react to change or changes in many different ways and this means “correct assessments are often not intuitively obvious and require careful thought” (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008). Thus, as proposed by differentiation management approach, managers should seek to understand the various perceptions and concerns their employees may have regarding a change before going to implement it. This way, it would be easier for them to prepare the employees for the change and make them receptive to it or at least less resistant to it. This should be the case both during the formulation and implementation phases of the change process.
There are different models of organizational management. Every model has advantages and disadvantages associated with it as far as organizational culture and change management are concerned. It is upon an organization to choose the model that best fits its culture. However, the chosen model should be in a position to allow for change to be effected smoothly in the organization. It should also not take for granted the views and inputs of the junior employees of an organization. It should serve to prepare everybody in the organization for pending changes so that the problem of resistance to change may be adequately addressed.
Barratt‐Pugh, L., Bahn, S., & Gakere, E. (2013). Managers as change agents. Journal of Orgchange Mgmt, 26(4), 748-764. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/jocm-feb-2011-0014
Hill, V., & Carley, K. (2011). Win friends and influence people: Relationships as conduits of organizational culture in temporary placement agencies. Journal of Management Inquiry, 20(4), 432-442. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1056492611432807
Kotter, J. P., & Schlesinger, L. A. (2008). “Choosing strategies for change”. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved May 27, 2020 from https://hbr.org/2008/07/choosing-strategies-for-change
Lindorff, M., Worrall, L., & Cooper, C. (2011). Managers’ well-being and perceptions of organizational change in the UK and Australia. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 49(2), 233-254. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1038411111400264
Verbeeten, F., & Spekle, R. (2015). Management control, results-oriented culture and public sector performance: Empirical evidence on new public management. Organization Studies, 36(7), 953-978. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0170840615580014