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Analyzing a company's change management and organizational learning

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Changes are inevitable in modern businesses because the success of every organization depends on the ability to create sustainable business practices that meet the needs of the market. However, in the modern world of business, managers embrace organizational learning to transfer information from different departments in the firm. In this regard, organizational learning enables effective change management because leaders identify the most suitable personnel within a company to effect necessary changes. Consequently, the leaders disseminate any impending changes to the workforce to reduce the impact of resistance. On the same note, the leaders use effective communication skills to educate the workforce on the benefits of the changes to individuals and the firm. In this way, the workers understand how to apply the new business practices to their everyday work. On the other hand, employees understand their responsibilities and roles thus reducing redundancy in the firm. Successful change leaders adopt a collaborative leadership style where they listen to the opinions of all workers regardless of their positions in the company. Exchange of information creates an environment of teamwork, which enables employees to view their colleagues as partners as opposed to rivals. Therefore, adoption of modern business practices by the workforce is quickened given that slow learners learn from their peers. The benefits of organizational learning include an efficient exchange of information for speeding up completion of duties to achieve organizational goals within the shortest time possible. On the contrary, the advantages of change management include the reduction of resistance in the workforce, which accelerates the process. Consequently, firms create a competitive advantage, which allows it to compete with other companies in the same line of business.

Organizational Learning and Change Management

Changes in organizations are inevitable because of the variations in business practices, customers’ needs, organizational interests, and objectives. In reality, companies cannot prosper if they do not engage in continuous research and development to identify the most applicable business practices that would aid it in creating a competitive advantage. Notably, traditional firms depended on material resources for their sustainability; however, over the years, dwindling resources have pushed business leaders to adopt an employee-based approach to guarantee sustainability. Therefore, learning plays an integral part in the success of enterprises as they adopt new and modern business practices that push a firm towards its goals. On this note, company managers should develop a succinct vision and effective organizational culture that enable implementation of the desired strategy. Subsequently, the leaders should prepare their firms through the workforce to a planned change and direct the transformation. However, business leaders face numerous changes in leading transformation despite noting the need for change. Ideally, employees emulate their leaders’ behaviors, which mean that an organization cannot effect meaningful changes unless its leaders lead the way (Bontis, Crossan, and Hulland, 2002, p. 441). As a result, change begins with the management for it to be successful. Apparently, executives do not realize the need for change if their organizations are successful.

In practice, the managers resist any change when share prices are increasing, bonuses are enormous, and the firm attracts and retains the best talents in the job market. On the contrary, when companies are underperforming, administrators become desperate to effect changes that would modify the fortunes of the enterprise. Unfortunately, the probabilities of success under these circumstances are little. Some of leading reasons that lead to failure include the inability to retain top talents as employees leave for opportunities in other companies, unavailability of funds to finance the projects, and managers’ emphasis on short-term goals to reduce further deterioration of the business. In this regard, it is apparent that the chances of success in implementation of change are highest when the firm seems to be most successful (Easterby-Smith, Crossan, and Nicolini, 2000, p. 787). Even though managers tend to resist any form of change when their companies are performing optimally on all fronts, in reality, such times provide the best chances of implementing changes successfully. Therefore, this paper analyzes the traits that managers should possess to lead change implementation and ensure the support of all stakeholders particularly the employees.

Change Management

Traditionally, senior executives in huge corporations did not have much to worry about given that they operated in undeveloped or closed markets. As a result, attaining their goals was easy and straightforward. However, the comfortable scenario has changed because of real-time communication channels, global flow of capital, labor mobility, and market transparency (Hayes, 2014, p. 116). Therefore, competent business leaders have to manage changes to meet the changing needs of the marketplace. Effective change management skills are essential to implementing changes successfully. In this regard, change management refers to the ability of business leaders to identify business practices that require changes and use the available material and human resources to effect changes in the enterprise environment to meet the present market needs. In most cases, people tend to resist any form of change as they seek to remain in the status quo; therefore, business managers should create an environment that motivates stakeholders to adopt changes to their practices (Bontis, Crossan, and Hulland, 2002, p. 446). In this way, the leader reduces resistance while encouraging all stakeholders to play their part in implementing the necessary changes to succeed within the shortest time possible.

Organizational Learning

Organizational learning entails the creation, retaining, and transfer of knowledge within an organization. In the context of change management, organizational learning is the ability to educate stakeholders on the need to implement some changes and the benefits such changes would bring to the individuals as well as the firms (Easterby-Smith, Crossan, and Nicolini, 2000, p. 786). Organizations strive to have the best business practices; therefore, the leadership has to encourage all its members of the staff to adopt learning as a way of learning modern business practices by comparing their company to the most successful competitors.

Effective Implementation of Changes in Businesses

As noted earlier, the identification of the right time to effect organizational change is critical to the success of the process. Moreover, business leaders have to find ways of overcoming natural resistance to change that manifests in most of the modern organizations. Importantly, managers should utilize vision, values, and strategies that determine a firm’s roadmap to the future to develop a compelling case for the relevant change (Hayes, 2014, p. 76). Change should be seen as the norm and all stakeholders to an organization should play their parts. The most successful business leaders are conservative when implementing changes to practices in their organizations. The CEO should use strategic planning to determine the best course of action to reduce the instances of resistance and counterproductive measures that could dissuade the implementation of the process (Bierly, Kessler, and Christensen, 2014, p. 601). As such, planning should be effective to outline any failures that could arise from taking the identified route. At the same time, the leader should not recommend change without listening to opinions from other stakeholders because such moves enhance resistance to the process. In effect, the leaders should be effective communicators to ensure that they sell their ideas and philosophy to the workers and other stakeholders. In this regard, collaborative leaders are the most successful because they do not adopt a know-it-all attitude that reduces the participation of other stakeholders in change implementation. In real life, it requires time to accomplish any significant change at a firm. As such, collaboration ensures that the behaviors of all stakeholders change to streamline organizational strategies with the desired changes. However, the leader should be the first to accept the need for the change and lead the workers by example. The leaders’ actions should be aligned with the expectations that they have for the workers to ensure implementation of change.

In essence, managers should ask themselves whether the change they wish to implement the company’s strategies and vision drive it. The change should take the business to the next maturity level without skipping certain levels that would have detrimental effects on success. Further, the leaders should devise necessary organizational behaviors to sustain the process. At the same time, the managers ought to ensure that they have the necessary talent, time, and resources to be successful. The focus should be on the people regardless of the magnitude of change being implemented because the process has to be as painless as possible. As such, developing a learning organization is one of the best ways to prepare workers for an impending change. In practice, humans have underlying behaviors regarding change. Learning promotes understanding, which in turn leads to commitment (Easterby-Smith, Crossan, and Nicolini, 2000, p. 789). An enlightened workforce accepts the need for change thus reducing resistance and enhancing commitment. In such situations, the workforce recommends the areas that require urgent alteration to improve organizational performance and push the firm towards its goals. Skills in the Workforce determine the viability of a change process by articulating the capabilities that each employee possesses. Therefore, the managers should identify the skills in the workforce that are required to implement the necessary amendments and encourage the workforce to engage in continuous learning to find new ways of solving organizational problems. In reality, changes are inevitable; therefore, the workforce should develop their abilities to adapt to the ever-changing technological processes, demands, and requirements of the marketplace. Inasmuch as managers need to develop unique practices that help their businesses to stay ahead of the competition, the leaders should avoid rigidity because it leads to lack of urgency and desire to implement changes.

As noted earlier, effective communication is essential to all successful managers. The workforce should learn the changes in the marketplace to enable it to learn the best ways to meet the needs of the market segment. Further, the managers should be efficient in communicating the need to adopt a continual learning habit to guarantee commitment of the workers. In addition, the executive should commit to ongoing and active training and education programs that provide the staff with the relevant skills to address the changing demands. The programs should enable the employees to use their new skills to compete in a changing environment. The leaders should use their effective communication skills to disseminate information linked to organizational vision and establish the business areas that require improvements. Further, the communication should be realistic and describe the prevailing business environment that drives the change. Ideally, the message should be simple and clear. Successful managers rethink of any message that cannot be passed in a few words (Bierly, Kessler, and Christensen, 2014, p. 598). Executives ought to realize that message diffuses via different organizational layers, and the original message could change if it incorporates several words. In effect, as messages diffuse from the top management to subordinates, its contents change thus delivering wrong messages that could lead to controversies. Moreover, executives have to use any opportunity to convey a company’s vision to the workers. In most cases, CEOs hold meetings with the staff regularly; therefore, in the meetings; the leader should start by reading the company’s vision for the participants to remind them of the roadmap to the future. Such actions help in creating an ethical environment where all workers respect the company’s visions and strategic goals.

Successful managers adopt the proven path to implement changes in their organizations. The established path entails successful plans, which have been tested in organizations of different sizes. The plan involves three primary phases, which are leadership, development, and ownership. In the leadership phase, the leader compares the current processes to the best applications used in successful firms in the marketplace (Lozano, Ceulemans and Scarff Seatter, 2015, p. 207). Consequently, the management conducts a quick survey to establish the gap between the current practices to the best in the business sector. At the same time, the business leaders should determine the value that closing the gaps would add to the company. The executive should identify the stages that the stakeholders would take to close the gaps concerning priorities. In essence, different business practices yield varying returns to business; as a result, the leaders should identify the best sequence of events that would enable the highest returns possible. Before embarking on the process, the managers should define the necessary resources and budget for the projects. Further, the management should identify adequate human resources to steer the process and assign respective duties to given individuals (Dervitsiotis, 1998, p. 77). The project should never start before completing all the steps mentioned above because it would lead to failure as some of the necessary requirements miss during later stages of the process.

After committing to the transformation, the executives appoint a team of in-house experts and agents to oversee the actual process. The team should comprise of the best performers in the organization. Such personnel should all the best interests of the firm because they understand the fundamental issues that require change in the company. The team should learn the best ways of closing the relevant gaps to achieve the set objectives (Lozano, Ceulemans and Scarff Seatter, 2015, p. 207). The management should pay close attention when integrating people into the project and the behaviors expected by the company. Further, the leadership should provide the necessary technology framework to aid the team to accomplish its goals within the specified period. The final phase or ownership entails implementation of the changes. As a result, the management should evaluate the benefits achieved from the changes to determine whether the process failed or succeeded. The management has to introduce an education program to enlighten the workforce on using the new business practices (Dervitsiotis, 1998, p. 77). The education program should show how the employees would use work in the novel business environment. At the same time, it should include an understanding of the company practices and their application in accomplishing tasks. In most instances, changes lead to alterations in responsibilities. As such, the leadership should clearly communicate the new roles and responsibilities of the staff to reduce the chance of employee redundancy. Employees that are unable to grasp the application of the new business process should get mentors to help in improving their performances. Importantly, the management should not adopt threats to hasten the learning process because it instills fear in the workforce thus reducing motivation and commitment to the firm. However, lack of motivation and commitment to a firm has adverse effects on individual performance, which in turn affects the organizational productivity negatively (Goetsch and Davis, 2014, p. 116). Even in situations where an organization uses outside consultants o implement change, at the end of the process, business leaders should assume the ownership of the process (Langley et al., 2013, p. 2). In this way, the management understands the areas that require continuous updates to stay ahead of the competition to ascertain sustainability.

The Need and Importance of Organizational Learning and Change Management

According to van de Kerkhof and Wieczorek (2005), a business cannot survive in the modern marketplace without change implementation. Changes give a company a chance to change their business practices and adopt the most recent ones to close gaps with their rivals. Organization competition is rife in most industry sectors; as a result, business leader utilizes change management to reduce resistance from workers and other stakeholders. In reality, human beings are resistance to any alterations that affects their schedules. Therefore, managers ought to create a learning environment that encourages all employees to play an integral role in changing an organization’s fortunes and helping it to achieve its strategies (Lozano, Ceulemans and Scarff Seatter, 2015, p. 207). In this regard, organizational learning aids employees in understanding the application of new business trends acquired after a change process. In effect, it reduces employee redundancy given that all workers understand their roles and responsibilities in the firm.

Managers should not adopt dictatorial leadership style because it reduces collaboration between different stakeholders in the firms, which in turn prevents the exchange of information. Successful managers embrace a collaborative leadership style and encourage the creation and sharing of information at any given opportunity (Crossan, Lane, and White, 1999, p. 524). Therefore, organizational learning creates a mutual understanding between leaders and the workforce thus enabling efficient implantation of change. Innately, it eases the change process because workers understand their benefits from the process and thus work towards the goals as set by the leaders. On the same note, the leaders do not have to outsource personnel because they have the support of the workers. As a result, the managers choose the best performers from within the workforce to create formidable groups to implement ant form of change in the firm. One of the best ways to implement change in an organization is to build teams in the firm. The team members should have definite roles to plays in the process to reduce interpersonal conflicts. After implementing the change, the steering committee should appoint representatives from different departments to aid in educating the other workers on how to use the new processes (Dervitsiotis, 1998, p. 76). Importantly, the steering committee to should ensure all workers understand that the new methods would be used in all business practices to reduce the chances of some retaining the old practices.

Conclusion

Any meaningful transformation creates problems in human beings. For instance, new leaders would be required to adopt emerging roles while workers must develop new capabilities and skills. Consequently, it creates uncertainty in the workforce leading the resistance. Leaders should identify these issues and address them systematically to reduce their effects during transformation. Change management requires the formation of a formal team within the organization that spearheads all matters involved in the process. The management team should engage key stakeholders to plan the way forward in the implementation process. The team leaders ought to lead by example by adopting the need for the changes because other workers turn to them whenever uncertainties start to emerge. The managers should not shy away from asking for opinions from subordinates because it provides an array of alternatives to improve an organization’s performance through adoption of the latest business practices. In reality, workers have different ideas that could transform an organization without changing or redesigning the existing business operations and processes. Several studies establish that managers are reluctant to implement any changes to their business practices when their companies are performing exemplarily. However, the leaders fail to realize that when companies are performing poorly, the situation leads to panic hence the need for an immediate solution to arrest the downward trend. In effect, the best time to implement changes is when the firms seem to be moving in the right direction. During this period, the firm is not in a hurry to save its fortunes or reputation. Subsequently, the management has adequate time to identify areas that require transformation and plan on the best way forward. At the same time, leaders should embrace learning in the companies to guarantee effective transformation that involves the input of all stakeholders.

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