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The Process of Change

Process of Change

Process of Change

Kurt Lewin has suggested a three-phase process of change which has been summarized below:

  1. Unfreezing-

    In this phase the employees should be convinced that the present behaviour or situation is unsuitable to the needs of the organization. This phase emphasizes discarding the orthodox and conventional methods and employees are made to realise that their current beliefs, feelings and behaviour are no longer relevant to the changing needs and situation of the organization. This phase may be completed by withdrawing physical and social support for conventional attitude and behaviour punishing those who are unwilling to change and rewarding those who are willing to change. This phase needs creation of a psychological and social atmosphere for the change.

  2. Changing-

    In this phase, people start learning and perceiving the change. When people are convinced that their present behaviour is in appropriate, they are willing to adopt the changed behavior. However, they must be provided with an alternative behaviour to fill up the vacuum caused by the unfreezing phase. They should be provided with an opportunity to select any one of the proposed alternative behaviour to suit his convenience and ability. Learning process should be supported by refresher training and practice. Kelman considers this phase as moving phase and explains this phase in terms of compliance (motivational force), internalization (acceptance) and identification (selecting the convenient alternative course).

  3. Refreezing-

    During this phase people accept the new beliefs, feelings and behaviour which they have learnt in the learning phase. This phase provides them opportunity for practice and experiments. Refreezing requires constant reinforcement of new learning by training and practice so the behavior is well established, physically and psychologically.

Management of Change

The whole problem of change should be managed on the following lines: (1) Identifying forces and needs for the change. (2) Diagnosing the whole issue, (3) Planning the change, (4) Implementing, and (5) Following up the change.

  1. Identifying forces and needs-

    The change agent should first recognize the pressures and forces demanding change. These pressures may be external (changing technology, market conditions, social and political environment) or internal (changes in top personnel existing organization deficiencies, employee demands for safety, welfare and security, need for expansion or diversification or to promote certain social or economic objectives, such as better productivity or human relations). Once these pressures are determined, it will be easier to distinguish between status quo and what is desired after the change. The analysis of these forces will help the management to concentrate attention on important forces only.

  2. Diagnosing the problem-

    Diagnosis means proper identification and clarification of the problem of change. A good diagnosis should state what is wrong, identifies the causes, gives requirements for a satisfactory solution and indicates important limits and constraints within which the solution must lie. The following questions may be asked in this connection.

(i) What is the real problem as distinct from its apparent symptoms? (ii) what are the factors necessitating change? (iii) what should be changed to resolve the problem? (iv) what are the major difficulties and constraints in introducing the change? (v) what outcomes are expected and how can they be measured ? Various diagnostic techniques, such as interviews, questionnaires, observation, opinion polls and analysis of secondary data, may be used by the management to collect information, depending upon the nature, time and scope of the change. After diagnosis, the management will be able to know the gap between the desired state and the existing state of affairs, the extent of support or resistance from the people, the resource constraints, the volume of work involved, the time, required for change and many other aspects relating to change.

  1. Planning the Change-

    For determining the future course of action, designing a proper plan of change is necessary. Careful planning will require clear answers of the following questions: (1) what, how, when and by whom the change will mad effective? The answer of what to change will spell out the nature and scope of change. Whether the change is needed in organizational structure, authority relationships; technology; product lines or production processes; people (qualifications, skills, attitude or behaviour); or tasks (job re-identification, job enrichment, job specialization or job enlargement). Must be clearly stated. How and when may need determination of methods and procedures of change and preparation of programmes budgets and times schedules of the change. The change may be planned to be completed at stretch or may be phased out to be completed in many phases. This may be determined, on the basis of pressure of change, and availability of resources: and finally by whom to change may involve the determination of change agent. The agency of change may be internal or external. The problem should be resolved on the basis of complexities of change, resource constraints, effectiveness of change, confidence of the people and other related factors. While major technological changes are resorted to outside agencies, the changes in organisational structure, tasks and people may be done by the management by delegating the authority tasks to an individual or a committee.

  2. Implementing the change-

    If the change is likely to be accepted, its implementation will be easier; and if it is expected to be resisted, the task will be exceedingly difficult and delicate. The agent of change should, therefore analyze driving forces and restraining forces for change. He should then try to push and encourage driving forces and immobilize the restraining forces so that people accept the change. The measures to overcome change have already been discussed. Briefly, the management can take the following steps: (i) It should try to create an environment for change by better leadership, better incentives, changes in formal organization and taking informal groups and their leaders in confidence. (ii) It should try to alter people’s perceptions and remove any doubts and fears by better education communication and participation. (iii) Management should try to change the basic value system of the people in favour of the change through training moral support and personal counseling.

  3. Following up the change-

    Management of change is not complete without a proper follow up and feedback system. Organizations must evaluate the effects of the change. It requires that the objectives of the change must be determined in advance in measurable terms. The effects of change should then be measured and compared with those of desired ones. Thus, the end results should be operationally defined and measurement must be done both before and after the implementation of the change. On the basis of feedback, necessary modifications should be made to make the change more effective, and lasting.

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