The after-effects of change management
Change is an action that an organization conducts in order to alter the way the firm operates. These changes may be small and only impact some aspect of daily activity among workersâ€”or they may be large and completely alter the aspect of the company and its approach to business. For an IT firm, change management will have an after-effect just as it will in any other organization. This paper will provide a review of what has been written on change management and its after-effects in IT.
One of the after-effects of change management is a change in workplace culture (Perkins, 2018). If employees are not ready for the alteration in the culture of the workplace, they could demonstrate resistance. Resistance is a significant after-effect of change management and in IT, it can lead to workers deliberately opposing infrastructural plans for development and change as well as some workers leaving the organization altogether in opposition to the change. Focusing on employee retention and the factors that compel workers to remain committed to their IT firm during the process of change management is something that should receive attention in order to lessen the potential after-effect of resistance, which can lead to higher turnover and other negative fallout from the change.
Part of the management of after-effects is the â€œability to manage fearâ€ as Walker (2018) puts it (p. 30). Managing fear, according to Walker (2018) is â€œwhat change management is aboutâ€ (p. 30). Fear plays such a large role in how change impacts people: they fear what they do not know. So for an IT firm engaged in a change management process, it is necessary for managers to educated personnel on what the change is, why it is important, what outcome is desired, and why the change will help the company overall. The more that is explained about the change, the more personnel will be willing to embrace it. Education helps to eliminate ignorance, which is the main basis of fear. So in the process of managing fear, managers of an IT department or firm must be able to educate the workers on the reason for the change in the first place. The more logical and rational the change process can be made to seem, the less fear will result and the less likely resistance is to be an after-effect. The main way to face the fear factor of change management is for managers to â€œembrace employees fear through team management planningâ€ (Walker, 2018, p. 31). The way to do this is to make a careful evaluation of every aspect of the changeâ€”namely, to address what is expected of the IT team, to identify the goals and objectives of the team so that everyone is on the same page, to monitor the change process so that everyone is abreast of how it is going and whether it is meeting resistance or whether there are any obstacles that have to be addressed, and so on.
Another after-effect of change management in the IT sector can be â€œstalled transformation,â€ as Anand and Barsoux (2017) describe it. This means that instead of lasting change occurring, there is a hiccup in the change process once the process has begun and the change enacted. Like a car that starts up and runs for a mile or so but then stalls out, the change management process can at first seem like it is running on all cylindersâ€”but then something happens and the change process stops working altogether. Workers go back to doing things the old way. All the work and preparation and planning and initiative that went in to getting the change up and running now seems all for nothing. There are many different reasons the change process can stall, according to Anand and Barsoux (2017). Just like with a car that has multiple working parts, an organization has several aspects to it and the change management process in IT has to consider them all in order to be successful. For example, if the change management team does not take into consideration the finer points of the enterprise and looks only to make deep cuts so as to facilitate a change in structure, they run the risk of deflating the workplace staminaâ€”sometimes, in fact, the â€œcuts are so deep that they hollow out capabilities, sap morale, and remove the slack that could have fueled new endeavorsâ€ (Anand & Barsoux, 2017, p. 3). In a situation where the change management team is unaware of the risks of the change being implemented, the after-effects can be particularly damaging.
Positive after-effects of change management in the IT sector can be achieved of course as well. As Cross (2001) points out, change has to receive support from the both the top and the bottom of an organization: leaders have to provide the vision and motivation for the changeâ€”but the change also has to be reinforced from withinâ€”i.e., from the employees themselves. In other words, they have to buy into the change so that it effectively takes root. A change management process that is able to get the employees and workers to buy into the change and take ownership of it is a positive after-effect of a well-managed change process. This effect is achieved primarily because the objectives, goals and tasks are clearly defined, described, explained, communicated, and embraced by the stakeholders in the organization. Cross (2001) states that management must be willing to hold workers accountable once they have bought into the change: â€œthey should sign a â€˜contractâ€™â€”not a legally binding document, but a form that indicates that they agree with, understand, and will implement a particular changeâ€ (p. 50). This approach would provide the support needed to ensure that the change is reinforced over the long-haul.
Tremors should be expected following any change implementation. Aftershocks are one type of after-effect that are bound to result in any IT department following a change management experience. Depending on the degree to which stakeholders have embraced the change, these aftershocks will be more or less serious. If stakeholders are still shaky with regard the overall need for the change, the after-effects could be damagingâ€”but they need not be. Regardless of whether a department wants them or not, they are bound to occur and management must be ready for them. One way to prepare is to have a plan of action that includes monitoring the change. By monitoring the change process, including an extensive after-even period, the department can identify problems before they become full-blown and can address them in an orderly manner.
Schantz (2018) describes a 9-step process that managers can use to manage change effectively. These steps include: 1) having a process to follow, 2) starting the change process at the top with the firmâ€™s leaders and executives, 3) taking into consideration the â€œneeds and perceptions of all stakeholders in the change processâ€â€”a common sense approach that is required in order to mitigate any risk of serious resistance setting in (Schantz, 2018, p. 8), 4) giving attention to the individuals involved in the change process so that they are getting the assistance they need to give up the old ways of doing things and to embrace the new change, 5) giving attention to the managers, who must facilitate and guide the overall process to make sure they have everything they need to keep the process on track, 6) have a plan for handling resistance to change, 7) boost morale by celebrating small victories, 8) keep stakeholders involved in the process by inviting individuals to share their stories, talk, discuss, and be open about the process, and 9) making sure that everyone knows how the ultimate success is to be definedâ€”i.e., the final goal is clear and can be measured.
Measuring the outcome of the change management process is particularly important for understanding the after-effects. If no adequate or effective metric has been employed, it will be uncertain among stakeholders as to whether the change management process has actually succeeded in what it set out to do. For this reason, an appropriate metric is absolutely essential. Without it, there is simply no way of knowing how to gauge the overall experience. Some stakeholders might feel it went well while others might feel it went terribly. Qualitative or subjective experiences are not a good metric for measuring the outcome and if this is all an IT firm is relying upon in order to gauge the after-effects of the change management process there is a higher risk of failure in the long run. The metrics must be clear, appropriate and effective.
In conclusion, the change management process is a complex endeavor and requires the stakeholders, leaders, drivers and workers of the process to be engaged and fully supportive of the change. The more accepting and educated on the matter, the more likely the after-effects of the change are to be positive and favorable for the company. However, if management does not take the necessary steps to ensure that the change is accepted by stakeholdersâ€”i.e., leaders do not pave the way by explaining the reason for the change and justifying it with clear examples of how it will benefit the firm and what all stakeholders stand to gain from it, the process is likely to sputter to a halt and meet with a rising tide of resistance. This is the main negative after-effect that can be the result of a poorly planned change management processâ€”one that fails to take into consideration the needs and voices of all stakeholders.
Anand, N. & Barsoux, J. (2017). What everyone gets wrong about change management.
Harvard Business Review, November, 1-15.
Cross, L. (2001). Managing change to manage results. Graphic Arts Monthly, 73(11),
Perkins, B. (2018). What is change management? A guide to organizational
Schantz, J. (2018). How can leaders manage change successfully? HR.com, 8-9.
Walker, G. (2018). Change management: Organizational change. Training and
Development, June, 30-31.
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