In the case under review, Samuel Daniels, the leader at the firm, faces the challenge of establishing a safety culture in the enterprise in the face of the dominance of a bureaucratic mindset in its operations. In spite of having a policy of safety management that is based on a certified integrated management system in place, work guidelines, procedures, and formats only exist on paper. Previous attempts to influence change had encountered resistance from the leadership, and challenges in communications, openness, and participation in the process of leadership, trust, and sharing. Samuel Daniels led a campaign to embed a safety and health culture in the firm for five years, between 2012 and 2016. This paper analyses how effectively and successfully Samuel and the organization implemented the mentioned change and identifies the areas that could have been improved. The key areas of focus in the analysis are communications with stakeholders, collaborations and engagement with relevant stakeholders, response to change resistance, and organizational culture.
The discussion below finds that Samuel and the organization were effective only in the preparatory phase of the change campaign. This effectiveness rested on Daniels’ commitment to research on the risks and hazards that were necessary to address and the need to ensure that the safety and health culture that the proposed change would achieve complied with relevant legal requirements. Nonetheless, the change campaign failed to engage the stakeholders effectively and communicating the “vision.” Essentially, the process of change lacked the active participation of employees and leadership and undermined the motivation and contributions of these important stakeholders.
Analysis of the Effectiveness of Leading Change at the Company
Change management describes the approaches that leaders in organizations employ to prepare, support, and assist individual members or employees, teams, and the corporation to achieve organizational change. Essentially, this change features the process of an enterprise’s transition from its current state, operations, culture, structure, and methods to a desired one in response to the recognition of the need to transform these elements for success towards the future. In the process of managing change, several practices are prudent or critical elements for leaders to consider and enact. These include creating a vision; encouraging flexibility and adaptability, rather than rigid control; providing, encouraging, and supporting open and effective communications with all relevant stakeholders, and leading change effectively to ensure that all stakeholders are on board and take active parts in the change (Todnem, 2005). Individually and together, these practices underscore the need for competent and effective leadership in the management of change.
According to the case study, embedding a new safety and health culture in the Indian company was challenging. Some of the problems that the organization faced were resistance, communication challenges, and lack of trust and openness. Additionally, the firm’s leadership paid only “lip service” towards safety and health in the organization, while the execution of existing and certified policy documents lacked credibility (Muduli & Pathak, 2019). Daniels joined the company in 2008, which means that he had adequate time to experience the company’s culture and operations and understand the areas that were necessary to alter or improve. He also had 19 years of experience in the field of health and safety culture (Muduli & Pathak, 2019). As such, Daniels had the professional capacity to implement the planned change in the organization. Nonetheless, whether he had the leadership ability and resources to plan, implement, and manage a campaign of organizational change towards a positive model of health and safety culture successfully and effectively in the five-year period between 2012 and 2016 was unclear. Based on his experience of the firm’s culture and operations, Daniels understood the need to develop an evolved Safety Management System (SMS). He planned to introduce the system gradually into the organization’s operations through push-pull methods (Muduli & Pathak, 2019). In the early planning phase, Daniels facilitated a revision of the company’s Health, Safety, and Environment policy with the objective of emphasizing on the importance of the quality of occupational health, safety, and environment that both employees and the public experienced at the firm.
One strength of Daniel’s management of change in the effort concerned effective preparation for the planned change. In the research part of planning change, he identified hazards and risks, and assessed the current control of hazards and the compliance of procedures with legal requirements. The planning phase also involved preparing relevant OHS plans, objectives, and indicators. Todnem (2005) notes that effective change is that which responds to observed changes or needs in an organization’s internal and external environments and features continuous monitoring of these needs and changes. Daniels’ commitment to investigations of the present problems in the firm’s health and safety culture and the need to comply with legal requirements were vital because they promised the capacity to develop a relevant change plan. By assessing the prevailing risks, hazards, current methods of control of these hazards and risks in the organization, and the compliance of procedures with prevailing legal requirements, Daniels and the organization made sure that the planned change would be focused and efficient in achieving specific objectives. In essence, research on the areas that needed to be improved enabled Daniels and the corporation to identify the aspects that needed prioritizing and the objectives that were vital to achieve in the change plan.
An assessment of the need for the proposed safety and health culture to comply with relevant legal requirements was a critical area of strength in the change plan. The evaluation was essential because compliance with the prevailing legal requirements is a critical indicator of the success and effectiveness of the change plan to embed a safety and health culture at the firm. Without a safety and health culture that met the existing legal requirements, any achieved change would have been unsustainable hence ineffective and unsuccessful. The inclusion of training and competency development programs for both managers and employees was another major strength in implementation of the change plan. The change was important because of the need to ensure that the skills and knowledge of employees and managers were continuously adequate to support their active participation in the change program and promote its success through effort and ability.
Several areas of the change management program that Daniels and the organization implemented between 2012 and 2016 were deficient. The first of these areas concerned communications with stakeholders. Effective communication promotes the success of management of a change plan because communication is a tool for influencing and sustaining positive and quality engagements and collaborations among the stakeholders to facilitate effective progress in the process of change. Furthermore, proper communication enables a leader to influence a unity of purpose among the stakeholders and promote acceptance of and motivation for change. The effectiveness of exchange of messages, ideas, opinions, and views is a critical determinant of the success of stakeholders’ participation in the change process (Jones et al., 2019). In other words, the freedom and effectiveness of communications allow stakeholders to be active in the change process hence foster acceptance of the change and willingness to take part in it. Effective communication also create awareness of the need for the planned change and its value for the stakeholders, which are vital in addressing resistance against change.
Daniels faced resistance to the campaign to embed a new safety and health culture at the Indian firm and could not overcome it because of ineffective communication. Daniels ought to have communicated with all the relevant stakeholders to address the resistance upon noting its existence. Indeed, he should have recognized that effective communications with – employees, the firm’s leadership, the government, and the local community was the most urgent and crucial need in the change campaign from the start. Moreover, having understood the “vision” that was necessary to achieve in the change plan, Daniels ought to have focused on developing and implementing a communications plan that could reach all stakeholders and stimulate their motivation and willingness to accept and participate in the change.
Literature on change management, including work by prominent theorists such as Kurt Lewin, illustrates the need for leaders to prepare the members of organizations or teams psychologically to influence their support for planned change. Lewin’s change model features a three-phase process. The first stage in this model, Unfreeze, captures the need to counter the resistance that accompanies the habitual way of doing things in an organizational or team setting. A proper plan of communications is essential for this process by influencing the members of an organization to gain a perspective on their daily activities, challenges, and possible opportunities. Besides, it enables them to unlearn undesirable or inefficient habits and be open to novel ways of attaining their objectives (Marquis & Huston, 2009; Boje, Burnes, & Hassard, 2012). Such a plan is essential in enabling teams to reassess their current processes, structures, and practices, as a first step in the motion of change. In his change campaign, Daniels needed to develop and implement a competent communications plan focused on creating awareness among the stakeholders concerning the need for the change and the benefits that it would present for them individually and as groups. He needed to outline the undesirable elements of the old safety and health culture at the firm, the changes that were important to enforce to address these challenges, and the advantages that the final envisioned change would present for the stakeholders. The communications plan also needed to be effective in terms of reaching the stakeholders on a personal level, rather than communicating generalizations. Additionally, it ought to have featured detailed and relevant information concerning the change and its objectives for specific employees and other groups of stakeholders, including the firm’s leadership. This focus would have been effective in persuading the stakeholders, particularly the leadership and employees at the enterprise, to abandon their general attitudes of resistance and consider the alternative that the change promised.
Closely related to communications with stakeholders, as an area of improvement in the case, is the need to engage more closely and effectively with the stakeholders. In the change campaign, Daniels seems to have taken a largely non-inclusive path, almost imposing the change on the organization and its employees and leadership and allowing them little active participation in its process. Daniels formed the “vision” of the change with little direct input and participation of the leadership and employees. Instead, he should have demonstrated to the employees and the leadership that their views, feelings, preferences, and desires were important to the process and objective of the planned change through a constant effort to seek, consider, and incorporate their views in the process of change. Besides, Daniels needed to maintain an open and efficient flow of communications with the leadership and employees to allow them to “own” the process of change and feel that they were “in control”. His dictatorial approach in the change campaign perpetuated the understanding among the employees and the leadership that they did not own the process. It promoted also the notion that their role in the change was passive, rather than active, which in turn undermined their motivation and willingness to accept and contribute to the success of the change. This adverse effect on employees’ motivation, participation in the change process, and willingness to take part in it was evident in the report from Daniels’ boss in 2015 that his (Daniels’) job performance was below par, and that certain feedback was contrary to the achievements that Daniels had demonstrated.
It is clear that the failure to engage competently and effectively with stakeholders, particularly the leadership and employees, and establish and maintain an effective communications plan to support the change are responsible for the failure in change management to embed a novel health and safety culture at the Indian national gas transmission company. The discussion above has shown that Daniels and the organization were effective only in the preparatory phase of the change campaign. Daniels committed to investigate the risks and hazards that were necessary to address and kept in mind the need to ensure that the safety and health culture that the proposed change achieved complied with relevant legal requirements. Indeed, the failures in stakeholder engagement and communications undermined the active participation of the leadership and employees and the motivation and contributions of these important stakeholders. The implementation of a competent communications to create awareness among the stakeholders concerning the need for the change and the benefits that it would present for them would have persuaded them to abandon their general attitudes of resistance and consider the alternative that the change promised. A constant effort to seek, consider, and incorporate employees and the leadership’s views in the process of change would have allowed them to “own” the process and feel “in control”, thereby promoting their motivation and effective contributions to the change.
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