Managing Change Assignment
Change can be defined as the process that brings to a halt the normal or current running of a place. These changes can be due to an internal or an external force that prompts this action to be taken. It entails the making of necessary alterations and then introducing new ways in which to run the fresh processes (Senior, 2006). It should however be noted that introducing changes and implementing them is certainly not as easy as many would perceive. Change should be done gradually so that its effect is at its bear minimum. It is important to work with the personnel to ensure a smooth transition and prevent irreparable damage to the organization. My main aim is to discuss the hard and the soft issues that are associated with managing change, as well as giving a case study that will effectively explain the same.
Change management is a very important task that has to be carried out in every organization. Its management is no easy undertaking. Changes within an organization require a lot of planning as well as systematic execution before implementation can take place within the organization. Changes can stem from factors within or outside the organization. Change management is usually carried out by consultants who have specialized in this field of work. They usually take it upon themselves to iron out the problems as they arise after a change has taken place within an organization. They put into use different models, concepts and techniques to make changes and manage them once they have been applied into the organization. Adaptation to the changes that have taken place is very crucial for an organization and its environment in general. How well they are able to adapt to change also determines how you are likely to thrive. Acclimatizing involves establishing a methodology on the best ways of responding and tackling change. Running from change should be avoided and instead, inventing ways to make it work for you is what should be done.
Change management is usually carried out as a solution to problems that arise, and a solution has to be created to deal with it. Because change management is quite difficult, the people that are placed in charge of managing them ought to be well equipped with certain skills. Managing, political, interpersonal, technological, and business skills are the required skills that they should possess. The change management is very important in an organization as it enables the organization to play either a proactive or a reactive position to changes that take place. Among the processes that can be used in change management include the Hard and Soft concepts.
The hard and soft concepts of managing change can easily be explained using the McKinsey 7S model (Sirkin 2005). This model consists of a list of seven factors that are interdependent. These factors are then placed under the categories of hard and soft elements. Hard elements are those that the management has direct influence on them. Soft elements are intangible and more often than not, are usually influenced culturally. It is from these hard and soft elements that the hard and soft issues are formed. Hard problems are those that have clear and structured solutions. On the other hand, soft problems have no definite solutions to them. These issues are usually brought about by different kinds of problems. These can be environmental, emotional, cultural, cognitive or even perceptive issues.
The hard elements consist of strategy, structure and systems. The strategy is the action that is taken up by the company as a response to the changes in the environment. These changes are usually external changes. The structure is the basis under which there is coordination and specialization, which are largely influenced by the organization’s size, its strategies as well as its diversity. Finally, there is the system. These are the informal as well as the formal procedures supporting both the structure and the strategy. The soft elements are made up of culture, style, staff, skills and super-ordinate goals. The organization culture refers to the norms, beliefs and values that an organization has. These are usually developed over a long period and become part of the organization. The management style is how the managers run the entire organization. It encompasses their overall responsibilities. The staff is the human resource personnel. This is the process used in socialization, manager development and in coming up with the values that are required by the management.
The skills refer to the personnel’s capacities. It entails their capabilities and the output that the company can produce. It also refers to the company’s strong point that is, what it can do best. The super-ordinate goals and the shared values refer to the concepts and the ideas on which the business is built upon. They are usually very simple and are of great value to those who work within the organization. A slight change within any of these elements will either have a positive or negative impact for the organization. When making changes within the organization, most of the time the focus is usually place on the hard factors. This is because they are easier to implement. However, if a company wishes to gain competitive advantage over its rival companies, it is important that they work hard to achieve also the soft factor. Although they are the hardest to achieve, they are the most rewarding.
Perception issues appear when the workers within an organization are oblivious of the impact that the change could have on the environment. This could be because of lack of keen observation on their part, resulting in resource wastage as well as misjudgments on the solutions that should be taken. Emotions come into play when the change brings in uncertainty as well as there is a high risk that would be involved by accepting the change. It causes you to be unable to process effectively the situation that is laid out. It is also very disadvantageous as it hinders idea generation. Cultural issues occur when the norm prevents the problem from being viewed, as it ought to. Creating solutions becomes very taxing. The environmental hurdles can be caused by lacking support for the expected change that is to take place. However, the cognitive problems are brought about by thinking about change only from the surface and not delving deeper into the issue at hand (Carnall, 1991).
This is a case study of the banking industry showing the various hard and soft issues that could occur as different changes also take place. The study focuses on the developing of support systems that the bank can use for the assessment of its viability. All banks usually have a lot of information about its clients. This is due to the information that they are able to obtain using technology. They can easily trace how each customer spends their money. This information is quite vital when making decisions regarding their customers and their technological expansions. This is due to the lack of customer loyalty and the new technology that has made its way into the markets. The problem however comes in that although the banks do possess a lot of information on their customers, it is not enough for strategic decision-making. This is referred to as the hard issue. It is a hard issue in that all they need is the data to get the information that they require. However, on the other hand it is also a soft issue. This is because the information that is provided is not direct. Some intangible factors also come into play. However, the soft factors are usually considered to be of more importance than the hard issues.
The problem that the banking industry is then faced with is having decision support tools that are inadequate. Although they do receive information that could deal with the hard issues, there is usually no way in which they can be able to confirm the information to solve the soft issues. The changes that the bank is trying to implement are finding ways in which they will reduce the costs that are incurred. It was found that many small branches brought in losses instead of profits as not many clients used them because they did not have all the services that were required. The hard data that was collected would sort out the hard issue at hand by showing the amount of money that the bank managed to bank. However, a problem did arise because they were worried how the customers would perceive the closure of these branches. This then brought out a soft issue.
Soft issues are usually much harder to manage as compare to hard issues. This is because soft issues do not have a clear solution for them (Senior, 2006). The solution can be one of a number of things. Therefore, you cannot be certain as to what solution will work. The unstructured characteristic it possesses is what makes it quite hard to deal with. However, there are ways in which these issues can be approached. Each issue requires a different approach.
In order to make the transition easier, some factors can be considered in order to make changes much easier. First, communication should be maintained. It is important that views and feelings about the changes are discussed and sorted. It is also necessary to explain to the other workers of the organization why the change is necessary. The management should realize that in order for change to be successful, it ought to involve all the employees and it should not just be imposed on them. It is important that people be given enough time to adapt. This will help the organization move forward as an entity. It should be kept in mind that change is not something that can take place in a single day. It takes time for it has to be implemented gradually into the day-to-day system of the organization. This gradual implementation also assists the workers in the adaptation of the change (Conference, 1970).
Carnall, C. A. (1991). Managing change: Self-development for managers. London: Routledge.
Conference. (1970). British academy of Management. Watertown, MA: Harvard Business School.
Senior, B. & Fleming, J. (2006). Organizational change. Princeton, NJ: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
Sirkin, H. L., Keenan, P., & Jackson, A. (2005). The hard side of change management. Harvard Business Review, 83, 10, 108-18.