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In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements in
Executive Summary 3
Importance of Strategic Communication in Change Management 6
Change Management Communication Strategy 9
Dapple is one of the most successful companies in the technology industry as the company was able to gain a significant market share in the global market following the strong sales of its smartphone and tablet computer products. Prior to introducing its smartphone and tablet computers, Dapple initially sold media players. Dapple’s smartphone and tablet computers, however, drew the market’s attention from individual media players. Consumers in the global market either purchase a smartphone or a tablet computer. Both products are designed with their own media players and include additional features that are appealing to end users.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, Dapple conducted an assessment of its yearly revenue. Outcomes of assessment show that media player sales have significantly gone down. Furthermore, due to limited sales of the company’s media player, the cost of producing it has become more expensive than the revenue gained from sales. For this reason, the organisation is planning to make changes in the organisation by focusing solely on the production of two products – the Dapple smartphone and tablet computer – and discontinuing production of its media player. Along with these changes, the organisation will also adopt new policies to implement cost-efficient measures while maintaining its production. Consequently, budget will then be refocused on the product innovation for two of Dapple’s profitable products.
Planned changes at Dapple will contribute to organisational development but will significantly affect employment, particularly those in charge of designing, producing, and distributing the company’s media player. Since some employees may be laid off following the implementation of the plan, Dapple will undergo organisational restructuring. All design, product development, production, distribution, and marketing or advertising and promotions will focus on the smartphone and the tablet computer. Since Dapple will reduce its product lines, the company may terminate some employees while refocus the roles and responsibilities of existing employees to focus on the organisation’s priorities. Dapple needs to communicate these plans to the organisation to reduce uncertainty and prevent resistance and stress on the part of employees.
One of the challenges that organisations need to face is handling issues that would arise during change or transition. Change is inevitable in any organisation. Organisational growth occurs in stages and throughout this process, the organisation will likely undergo change or transition to address problems, prevent or mitigate risks and threats, and improve overall outcomes for the organisation. For this reason, change is desirable and welcome in most situations because it often creates opportunities for the organisation to improve its position (Sturdy & Grey, 2003).
Although change may bring about welcome developments to the organisation, the transition period present difficulties particularly to people in the organisation. To avoid chaos within the organisation, the management should therefore implement change management strategies to prevent issues or problems from disrupting operations and productivity. One of the ways to accomplish this objective is to develop and implement strategic communications during transition. Strategic communication is one of the most efficient tools that organisations may use to handle change and transition in the workplace. Strategic communication is important because it engages stakeholders, particularly the employees, who will be affected by the outcomes of change or transition, energises the workplace community by informing people about planned changes and innovation, sets the vision of the organisation, and communicates the activities that the organisation would need to implement changes in the organisation (Invernizzi, Romenti, and Fumagalli, 2012).
Considering the abovementioned issues, the succeeding brief focuses on a proposed strategic communications plan for change management. The primary goal in writing the report is to develop a communication strategy that would constitute the aims of change or transition as well as activities that the organisation will need to carry out during this process. Activities include strategic planning activities. The proposed communications plan will also include integrated communication strategies for the aforementioned objective. Ultimately, the communications plan should address the resulting uncertainty due to change or transition to prevent disruption within the workplace.
Importance of Strategic Communication in Change Management
Effective change or transition necessitates clear and purposeful communication. Change or transition in any organisation causes and uncertainty, which then leads to resistance on the part of employees. Consequently, resistance to change and the stress and anxiety that result from uncertainty decrease employee morale and lower motivation and productivity among employees (Dahl, 2010). According to Pearson and Thomas (1997), effective communication in the organisation must offer comprehensive information, particularly those that the people need to know. Furthermore, communication in the organisation must be used as an instrument to bolster change by sending appropriate messages to employees that would influence or motivate them to support the proposed changes and undergo transition willingly (Kitchen & Daly, 2002).
Change Management and Organisational Development
One of the ways to manage change is to view it within the context of organisational development. Organisational development refers to deliberate interventions by leaders in the organisation to increase effectiveness and improve the health and performance of the organisation. Essentially, the characteristics of organisational development include the following: planned, organisation-wide, managed from top to bottom of the organisation, aims for effectiveness, and implementation of interventions through various processes that lead to change or facilitate transition (Cummings & Worley, 2014).
In developing change management strategies in organisational development, the management should look into the goals and objectives, the methods to accomplish these goals and objectives, and the expected outcomes of planned or proposed changes. Prior to deciding the necessity of change in the organisation, the management should analyse its current performance and operations. Through analysis and diagnosis, the organisation would be able to determine if change is necessary. After deciding that the organisation needs to undergo transition to resolve existing issues and problems, the organisation must then design a change management plan that includes the goals and objectives, activities, methods of implementation, monitoring, and assessment procedures to determine outcome. Part of planning, particularly the methods of implementation include communication (Anderson, 2011; Cummings & Worley, 2014).
Since methods of implementation include the development of organisational structure, the design of the organisation, the definition of change and expected outcomes, and the design and implementation of the strategy and action plan, these aspects of organisational development must be included in the communication plan (Cummings & Worley, 2014). Furthermore, communication must also follow the stages of change from the assessment phase to the implementation phase, and finally, the monitoring and assessment phase. Considering the abovementioned considerations, the communication plan must include a description of the planned structure of the organisation, the proposed processes and policies to implement changes, the development plans and activities, and the expected outcomes (Anderson, 2011; Cummings & Worley, 2014).
Components of the Communication Plan
Scotland (2000) argued that change management strategies must address the issues that arise due to uncertainty during the period of transition such as resistance, stress, pressure, and anxiety. All of these outcomes disrupt operations in the organisation and hinder employees from performing as well as prevent them from being productive. Hence, the undesirable outcomes of change or transition affect the organisation’s overall performance and operations.
A management’s communication plan should include particular components that would allow the organisation to satisfy employees’ need for information. Scotland (2000) recommended the “W vision”, a concept that cites all necessary information that must be communicated to employees. The “Ws” in the “W vision” include questions pertaining to “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, and “why”. Hence, in communicating with employees, the management must begin answering “what”. According to Scotland, “The ‘what’ should include an outline of the change programme, detailing the changes needed and contrasting with the current situation” (2000, p. 24). Most organisations only answer this question without providing feedback and additional information. Nevertheless, answering “what” is not enough. The management must also answer “where” and “who” by stating where the change will take place and which individuals or groups/departments in the organisation will be affected by planned changes or undergo transition. Consequently, the management should also determine “when” the change will take place and “why” change is necessary.
Scotland (2000) also recommended that aside from answering the “w” questions, leaders in the organisation should also share complete information as much as possible without withholding information to establish trust between management and employees, and utilise effective mediums of communication based on the organisational culture.
Apart from determining and communicating the particulars of proposed change, the communication plan must also aim to communicate the goals and objectives of change, identify upcoming changes including activities (e.g. training, restructuring, employee performance assessment, etc.) that will be part of transition, determine expected outcomes, clarify the roles and responsibilities of employees, communicate the goals, objectives, and vision of the organisation, and specify the medium through which the management may be able to communicate efficiently (Klein, 1996; Patterson & Radtke, 2009).
Change Management Communication Strategy
Considering the abovementioned best practices or efficient strategies in communication management, we will now apply them by creating a communication plan for a particular organisational scenario. The case brief is a response to growing uncertainty in the organisation due to planned changes. The primary goal or objective in creating and implementing a communication plan and strategy is to address disruption in the workplace and design communication in order to prevent any detrimental effect on employee morale, motivation and productivity.
Using the “W vision”, the communication plan will address the following issues. As formerly noted, the brief concerns change and its disruption in the organisation’s operations. Planned changes are expected to shift the direction of the organisation. To establish a specific scenario, the organisation is in the technology industry. Considering the above scenario, the communication plan for change management will include the areas cited in Table 1.
Communication Plan – “W vision”
Following the “W vision” is a way for the organisation to determine the essential components of the communication plan. Further planning must also adjust medium of communication to particular groups in the organisation. A board meeting to discuss planned changes must be conducted to communicate proposed change to board members. Nevertheless, for employees, the organisation is expected to utilise a different means to communication, whether it is through a memorandum and later on, an organisation-wide meeting. Organisations may adopt integrated communications to communicate the message effectively. Integrated communications necessitate the application of different types of media to communicate the message. Different channels of communication include memorandum, meetings, and digital media, among others.
After implementing the communication plan, the organisation must conduct assessment to determine if there are issues or problems that interfere with communication. Clarifying issues is one way to resolve the situation. Some employees may not understand some aspects of change. In this situation, the management should conduct consultation through which employees may ask questions about the proposed change so the management would be able to clarify issues and address these questions. Assessment also includes surveying or asking feedback from employees.
The foregoing discussion relates a communication plan to facilitate change management as a component of organisational development. As formerly noted, the primary objective of organisational development is to improve efficiency in the organisation and address problems in the process. Organisational development, however, necessitate change as part of the intervention plan. Within this context, change is necessary in facilitating organisational development. Consequently, change in the organisation raises many issues, particularly resistance on the part of employees due to stress and anxiety resulting from uncertainty. To address these issues, the organisation must communicate with the employees to help them understand the need for change and to ease their worries and anxieties so as to prevent them from losing motivation. Maintaining employee morale and motivation is highly important so as not to disrupt productivity in the organisation.
Developing and implementing a communication plan must be comprehensive. A communication plan, as previously discussed must include all information necessary that would answer the questions and concerns of employees. A comprehensive plan must communicate the vision of the organisation, the planned structure of the organisation, the strategies and activities to facilitate change, and the expected outcomes. Furthermore, communication must be constant while addressing all issues to prevent resistance and low motivation among employees.
Anderson, D. L. (2011). Cases and exercises in organizational development and change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Cummings, T. & Worley, C. (2014). Organizational Development and Change. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.
Dahl, M. S. (2010). Organizational change and employee stress. Management Science, 57(2), pp. 240-256.
Invernizzi, E., Romenti, S. & Fumagalli, M. (2012). Identity communication and change management in Ferrari. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 17(4), pp. 483-497.
Kitchen, P. H. & Daly, F. (2002). Internal communication during change management. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 7(1), pp. 46-53.
Klein, S. (1996). A management communication strategy for change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 9(1), pp. 32-46.
Patterson, S. J. & Radtke, J. M. (2009). Strategic communications for non-profit organizations. Malden, MA: Wiley.
Pearson, B. & Thomas, N. (1997). The shorter MBA. London, UK: HarperCollins.
Scotland, I. (2000). Driving a wedge into change management communication. Training Journal, 23.
Sturdy, A. & Grey, C. (2003). Beneath and beyond organizational change management: Exploring alternatives. Organization, 10(4), pp. 651-662.
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