Organizational Change Management
Suffolk county council is facing a challenge in developing a different culture of doing business due to the reluctance from members of staff to develop a different culture of doing business. The county chief executive has already warned about the looming mass retrenchment which has not been effected due to the slow pace at which reforms are being made. The situation has been particularly challenging for the chief executive who was hired specifically to steer the council in a new direction and yet when she does make an attempt there is a slow response.One of the main causes of the massive job losses is the budget deficit of one hundred and fifty three million pounds that the government faces.
The intention of the council executive was to cut costs by cooperating with the district council, police, voluntary sectors and other administrative branches to as opposed to the mass retrenchment being proposed as the council does not run on a system where financial rewards are the only target (Beer &Nohria 2000 p. 15). Her proposals also garnered criticism from the opposition who did not support the proposal to reduce the on demand services as they view them as a necessary part of the community. The New Strategy Decision that was proposed has been discussed by over a hundred and seventy five officials and with the elections approaching, there is a an urgent need to get the direction implemented especially since the council does not foresee an increase in revenue while an increase in costs is almost certain.
The council has therefore lagged in the implementation of the program that is the cause of the executive’s problems in the development of a strategy that will lead to its successful implementation. The strategic program was focused on the review of most public services and analyzing the root cause of social problems in Suffolk to find a way to prevent them instead of treating their symptoms. The risk of retrenchment has also not been well met by the employees with the threat of unemployment causing those who are uncertain of their future to be too insecure to ask in times when they are unsure as this might make them appear incompetent and therefore more likely to be let go. The executive has however constantly said that it is against the proposal of mass retrenchment especially since it will cost the council a lot of money in terms of compensation for them, but also because it will save them at most fifty five million pounds that is not enough.
This report looks at the problems that are faced in implementing changes in a work environment more so in one in which the methods of operation have not changed for a long time. The problems include the hostility that the one bringing change will receive as not many will view the changes as a necessary part of doing business due to the long period of operation under the old system. The report will also show the possible solutions to these problems including a change of view in the process and different schemata for the council. The report will also look at the different methods that are used to develop at organizational change and the merits and demerits of each; these methods include downsizing, change in view and reduced consultation. A conclusion will be given on what the best methods are for the current scenario at the Suffolk County Council. Finally the report will look at the feasibility of the solutions offered and their shortcomings as well as offer recommendations that will assist the county council in the present and short term future.
The Suffolk County Council (SCC)has a serious problem in its schemata that is resulting in it being overstaffed and this is what is leading to the excess expenses in the council. The function of the schemata in management is to govern the view that is held by employees and management on how the business operates (Balogun& Johnson 2014 p.524). It is important in the establishment of a proper working relationship to prevent unnecessary costs of production developing due to excessive expenditure in communication, retraining of staff, and the cost or reminders such as memos. The poor schemata also means that there is overemployment of people to accomplish tasks that could be done by a single individual as seen in the SCC which foresees a massive retrenchment occurring in order to reduce the costs and run the council more efficiently.
There is also the resistance to change that is met in any organization whenever a new idea is formulated due to the view that the change is wrong (Fernandes& Rainey 2006 p.172). The chief executive is therefore facing a difficult task in making people change their view on the new strategy (Kim &Mauborgne2003 p.37). One of the sources of resistance to an idea occurs when a radical idea is forced too fast due to the executive underestimating the time it takes to change the organization. The executive could have had an overly ambitious plan which although applicable given time is not practical in the given time frame and this can force the other members to refuse its entirety instead of trying to review it since it is a necessary part of growth (Tsoukas& Chia 2002, p.575). This is seen in the opposition to the proposal to have the on demand services be cut with the opposition protesting the tone of the letter and not just its content showing how a radical idea can get resistance even from those who should be in support of change (Harsh 2011, p.96). The internal resistance is extremely important as it can even lead to the complete failure of the organization as it fails to adopt new, more efficient methods of working and is unable to be competitive with its budget.
The SCC is a public sector organization and this is an important consideration in analysing its slow pace of accepting change. The public sector has always been significantly slower than the private sector in accepting change due to the large number of experts employed (Sminia&Nistelrooj, 2006 p. 101). This large pool of experts that must be consulted is seen in the fact that the SCC has a hundred and seventy five managers who had to be consulted in order to form the New Strategic Direction and will have to be consulted frequently as the program is implemented. This means that the decision making process takes significantly longer due to the time it takes to collect these opinions. The bureaucratic process is also significantly longer in the public sector and an individual has to get approval from more individuals in order to implement an idea as compared to the private sector meaning a slower process of change.
The SCC is a political institution and this means that the individuals whose approval is required to implement change are elected officials and this brings a political aspect to the decision making process. Due to the different interests of various political groups it can take time to get the necessary approval to have a move supported even if it is in their best interest. This political aspect is especially crucial since it can be underestimated by members of the private sector as to how much it can delay the process and an individual moving from the private sector to the public sector might find it significantly more difficult to get things done due to their attempted reliance on administrative authority which can lead to their failure in public office (Kotter2007, p.5). An example of this is seeing in the opposition’s outright criticism to the proposal to work with administrative authorities to reduce on demand services so as to cut costs. This political aspect also makes it a challenge for the organization to become more efficient as the negation aspect can at times mean that one issue is addressed at the understanding that another one will not.
In order to improve the acceptance of the new methods, it is imperative that the management first categorize the change on whether it is episodic or continuous. Episodic change would be change that is a brief interruption to the normal flow of the organisation and after the given period, the system reverts to what it used to be such as the retrenchment of staff (Weick& Queen 1999 p.363). Continuous change is a change, which is set for a long-term period, changes the entire equilibrium of the organization permanently, and includes the analysis of the roots of the social problems at Suffolk to treat their sources. To start the episodic change process, the executive must convince the other members to surrender control to her to perform the business activities in the desired manner as the legitimate head (Erkama 2010 p.25); this will lead to a faster implementation of ideas as they are now following a single mind-set which is of the management.
The management must also ensure that there is planned change and that the planned change is discussed by the affected parties in order to create a continuously adaptive environment that is suitable to them. The organization can in order to quicken the decision making process focus on the outcome and not the minute details that lead to it (Hebson, Grimshaw, Matchington& Cooke 2002 p.5). This would mean the SCC taking a view that is traditionally of the private sector however the private sector does implement change faster than public companies. This can be achieved by reducing the number of people that must be consulted in order to approve a plan. The SCC can reduce the bureaucratic process through a better working Schema in order to find where the delays are and either quicken the procedure to gaining approval through reducing the number of officials one has to get the approval off (Collins 1998 p.126). The method of approval can also change so that if a policy is not being implemented in certain elected officials’ jurisdiction then they do not have to be consulted for approval as it makes it difficult to gain approval of ideas when the individuals asked have no knowledge on it and will require coaxing to abandon their other engagements to come and vote for it.
For this change to happen, it would be necessary for the SCC to focus more on the public good of their policies as it will not go well with some officials who would feel that the move to segment the voting is tantamount to taking their power from them (Leitch & Davenport 2002 p.3).
The political dilemma is a serious issue to be overcome for the SCC as to reduce the number of approvals necessary to implement an idea they still need to get that number of approvals.The chief executive must through dialogue and persuasion show the opposition the importance of the changes being implemented in the council before there is a severe budget deficit (Garvin & Roberto 2005, p.26). The council can then implement policies that would get radical policies approved quicker through having the support of the opposition. The politics of the council are heavily influenced by the ideology behind ideas and by the executive showing that their ideology is similar to that of the other politicians they can receive their political endorsement in the call for a change in the working culture of the council (Buchanan &Badham 2008 p.5). The receptivity factor must also be analysed by the group for them to comprehend the difficulty they will encounter in proposing the different ideas (Ferlie, Hartley & Martin 2003, S9). The executive should also be given authority in the scope of operating with minimal interference however this can only come through analysing the history of the SCC so as to develop a proper policy that both the opposition and the incumbent can view as a compromise of their intentions. The receptivity variable is of utmost importance as an idea that is not viewed positively can lead to the entire New Strategy being scrapped and labelled as unpopular due to the political desires more so of opposition to show themselves as the better option for the county’s leadership (Kegan&Lahey 2001, p.52). The politics of the council cannot therefore be overlooked, as it is one of the most crucial variables in determining the success of the New Strategy.
The SCC executive is facing a major challenge in trying to develop a change in the work culture of the office due to a perceived reluctance by the members of the council to implement the New Strategic Decision that would see them save a significant amount of money and therefore remove the fear of a deficit that appears inevitable. One of the methods proposed to reduce the deficit is to retrench hundreds of employees from the council however this proposal will not save the council much and is probably part of the reason for the slow implementation of the new policies due to a fear of inquiring and hostility from people who feel that their jobs are threatened by the chief executive. The chief executive is also facing a challenge from the bureaucratic nature of the public sector due as it is responsible for the slow rate at which ideas are successfully implemented. The SCC has at least a hundred and seventy five managers that it consults which is a significantly large number and this is another cause of the delay in decision making which the council must address for it improvement.
The speed with which the executive wants ideas implemented might be ideal and if attempted could actually fail the council and make her look incompetent as well. New ideasand changes do not receive positive receptions but with time many are adopted by their respective organizations. A push for faster acceptance can lead to the executive being isolated and eventually removed in favor of a more moderate person or one who will not change anything and this could lead to eventual hostility to any new idea. The opposition could also be reluctant to work with the incumbent part and help them with their ideas as it will make them look less competent and could lead to poor performance in the upcoming election. The opposition has already shown its reluctance to cut the on demand services and addresses the problems from their source, this could lead to their further opposition to new ideas from the council. Finally, the executive must acknowledge that even internal politics of the ruling party are going to be responsible for the slow rate of implementation of policies, as they must ensure that the members of the party accept the ideas. By showing members that the SCC has the same ideologies as themselves they could earn trust to have less restriction although it is limited. By use of the five case model the SCC can also analyse the best strategy to use in terms of policy development in the financial, economic, managerial, strategic and commercial sectors of the organisation (Green book 2013 p.13).
For the council to have a successful change in culture it should educate employees on the benefits of the new policies implemented through employee assistance programs that will help them be at pace with the management in the rate of behavioural change. The employees are not necessarily hostile to the proposals however it is a challenge for them to see the direction in which the management would like to steer them and can only perform short tasks that they are commanded due to their lack of knowledge in the long term target of the SCC.
The opinion of a neutral third party that is equally as knowledgeable in the field, if not more, as the executive can be called to analyse the policies formed. The opinion of this third party would be of high value especially when dealing with the opposition who might not necessarily approve the radical ideas recommended by the executive and would block their plans through their voting power. The opinion of the third party can also be of value to the opposition who can also use them to show the executive when their plans are lopsided in their favour or lack a modern professional measurement framework that analyses their success (Brignall and Model 2000, p.6).
It is important for there to be a proper framework developed for the SCC that can lead to more transparency and faster identification of areas that are wasting money unnecessarily. The council needs more efficient schemata as the one in place have led to excessive expenditures in departments that are unnecessary and hence being pushed for removal. The importance of cooperation with the opposition through political debate is also necessary due to their electoral power, this therefore means that the council cannot ignore the concerns of the opposition and has to actively involve them and while discussion is important, it is also necessary for them to accept that for the opposition to accept their proposals, they too have to accept some of the proposals that the opposition has. Finally, both groups should change their measurement on how a county assembly is supposed to operate from the view that the process is just as important as the final result and instead focus on whether the end result can still be achieved by faster means even if at the expense of their consultation through multidimensional performance measurement frameworks. By doing so the SCC can reduce the number of consultations the executive needs to make to execute policies successfully.
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