The Perils And Pitfalls Of Leading Change Case Studies Examples
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Being in his early 20s and at managing a store, wherein the other persons in the store’s management have been working there for at least 10 years, Daniel Oliveira is likely to face unfriendly attitudes, coming both from envy and from the young manager’s initiative to change the order of things. Before becoming the store manager for Clothes & Accessories, Vitória branch in Brazil, he was a beloved trainee manager, popular among all ranges of employees. This situation made the young manager to consider that his reputation and popularity will extend in his new role as the store manager of the Vitória Clothes and Accessories branch. Seeing aspects in the operational and customer service level that could have been improved, made him believe that his team will simply accept and comply with his improvement recommendations, but what he did not take into consideration was people’s resistance to change.
Most of the times, resistance to change appears to be the greatest risk in the successful implementation of change management, whether planned or not planned. Oliveira’s mistake was that he did not think about including the people with whom he worked in the change management planning. In fact, he did not develop a proper change management planning, because he did not consider how the stakeholders (employees, management, customers, community) will be affected by change, nor did he actually envisioned the results that the recommended changes would generate.
The change that Oliveira envisioned for Clothes & Accessories was rather an unplanned one, produced as a result of the long – time resistance to change of the Vitória branch, and it generated chaotic and uncontrolled events (Sims 332). The resignation of the store’s supervisor and two of the team leaders was such an uncontrolled effect of the unplanned change that the young manager wanted to implement within his branch.
In the current situation, where he has to rectify the mistakes of the unplanned change instituted at his branch, Daniel Oliveira must start to think strategically about the change, which still has to be implemented. Moreover, he has another aspect that he has to thoroughly consider, which is the fact that he is unpopular among his team due to the change that he wanted to institute, undesired by the employees and leaders alike.
For the first problem, continuing with the change, but implementing it in a strategic and planned manner, Daniel should answer three questions: why, what, and how (Sharma, 2009)? Why the change is needed and why did Vitória’s employees not respond to the initial envisioned change? What needs to be changed and what should various stakeholders revise in their behavior or work processes? How should the change be accepted and implemented?
For the “why” questions, there are certain aspects that Oliveira needs to consider. First, the change is needed because he was tasked with stopping the sales’ decline and improving the performances of the store. Second, the answer to why the employees at his branch rejected his measures for change is that they are accustomed with a certain way of doing their work and change scares them, becoming reluctant to everything that is new.
For the “why” question, the store manager should also remember Sara Carvalho’s observations regarding the external environment. The fact that the transit population is reduced and governmental institutions and offices moved away indicate that the downtown of the city, where the store is located, faces problems of reduced customer demand. Besides the decline of the downtown’s population, another cause for the reduced customer demand might also be the internal environment at Clothes & Accessories. Along with organizational changes, Oliveira should also consider developing and advertising sales and promotions for attracting customers in, and to retain them through customer loyalty programs.
For the question what needs to be changed, Oliveira already identified relevant operational and customer service aspects, such as the store’s design, the sales persons’ attitude towards customers, a more effective customer assistance, improved cleaning and merchandising. While all these aspects are without argue things that need to be revised for the improvement of the store’s operations and its performances, the young manager omitted a crucial aspect that needs to be changed: the organizational environment. In this case, the organizational environment describes the leadership style, the internal working processes, the employees’ attitudes towards their roles and store.
The store’s declined performances may be a result of poor employee engagement, which is an internal factor that calls for change, along with the operational and customer service issues identified. Employee motivation, as part of the internal organizational environment at Clothes & Accessories Vitória, should be one of the main goals of the change process. In fact, employee motivation could be pursued for its end goal, enhancing the store’s performances, but also for influencing the people to accept change.
For “how” question, Lewin’s change model should be applied. Lewin’s model (in Sharma 44) indicates that for changing the current order within an organization, the change should be applied by either increasing the forces for change, either reducing the forces that maintain the existent order (change resistance). In Oliveira’s case, because the employees vividly indicated that they were not committed to change and disregarded the young manager’s initiative for changing the working processes by either ignoring them or resigning, the second approach should be applied.
Therefore, a new angle for approaching the change management process should be applied. Instead of going to his team and telling them what needs to be changed, Oliveira should make them find the solutions. The store manager should present his team the problems with which the store is confronting, presenting also the potential consequences, such as decreased sales, which may lead to personnel dismissal and even closing down the store. In other words, according to Lewin’s unfreezing phase (Sharma 44) the store manager should present the actual situation and the desired situation. The purpose of this action is to determine the employees to understand that their behaviors, attitudes and the working environment differ significantly from what is desired and that change is needed.
Oliveira should challenge the team leaders, department managers and supervisors to think of solutions to improve the existent order, by giving them clues about what might be improved. By letting the employees know that their opinions matter and good solutions could be taken applied for improving the current context, Oliveira will win the people on his side, because they will feel that they can contribute in the decision – making process. Involving the employees in the change process signals their acceptance of change, the actual moving stage, according to Lewin’s model of change (Sharma 44).
Through team working processes, brainstorming sessions and horizontal communication activities, the store manager should influence his team to choose the relevant solutions for the improvement of the store’s performances, aligned with his vision. After the decisions are made internally about what needs to be changed, the management’s approval for the required modifications should be attained and the potential requests for revisions should be negotiated or instituted. The final version, after the top management’s involvement, would be presented to the local management team at Clothes & Accessories Vitória. From here on, Oliveira will propose processes such as remunerating and rewarding the employees who will comply with the changes, or offering career opportunities and other benefits to those who implement change in their working process. The employees who are still resistant to change will be dragged into change by those who comply with the transformations occurred. Moreover, if old working standards still persist, the management will help workers move along, by giving them clear objectives and guidelines on how to integrate the new working models in their activities. This is the refreezing phase, wherein the working cycle is redefined and change is reinforced through official working procedures and guidelines (Sharma 45).
The essential thing is that Daniel Oliveira should know his people, especially his managers and supervisors, for knowing how to approach them. For gaining their confidence he should demonstrate that he is capable of managing the store, hence he must show a vision and gain them on his side through leadership skills.
Sharma, Radha, R. Change Management. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Company. 2007. Print.
Sims, Ronals, R. Managing Organizational Behavior. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. 2002. Print.
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