Theory and Practice of Change Management
Approaches to Implementing Change
Five different broad approaches to effecting change were identified by Thurley and Wirdenius (1973) and summarized by Lockitt (2004).
All five approaches will be discussed throughout this unit, specific attention will be paid to the manner in which each approach to change takes the people who will be affected by the change into account.
At the end of the unit you will have a better understanding of all five approaches and may be able to select the best approach to implement change in your organization.
The Directive Approach
This strategy highlights the manager’s right to manage change and the use of authority to impose change with little or no involvement of other people.
The advantage of the directive approach is that change can be undertaken quickly. However, the disadvantage of this approach is that it does not take into consideration the views, or feelings, of those involved in, or affected by, the imposed change.
This approach may lead to valuable information and ideas being missed and there is usually strong resentment from staff when changes are imposed rather than discussed and agreed
The Expert Approach
This approach sees the management of change as a problem solving process that needs to be resolved by an ‘expert’.
This approach is mainly applied to more technical problems, such as the introduction of a new learner management system, and will normally be led by a specialist project team or senior manager. There is likely to be little involvement with those affected by the change.
The advantages to using this strategy is that experts play a major role in the solution and the solution can be implemented quickly as a small number of ‘experts’ are involved.
Again, there are some issues in relation to this strategy as those affected
may have different views than those of the expert and may not appreciate the solution being imposed or the outcomes of the changes made
The Negotiation Approach
This approach highlights the willingness on the part of senior managers to negotiate and bargain in order to effect change.
Senior managers must also accept that adjustments and concessions may need to be made in order to implement change. This approach acknowledges that those affected by change have the right to have a say in what changes are made, how they are implemented and the expected outcomes.
The disadvantage to this approach is that it takes more time to effect change, the outcomes cannot be predicted and the changes made may not fulfil the total expectations of the managers affecting the change. The advantage is that individuals will feel involved in the change and be more supportive of the changes made.
The Educative Approach
This strategy involves changing people’s values and beliefs in order for them to fully support the changes that are being made.
A mixture of activities will be used; persuasion; education; training and selection, led by consultants, specialists and in-house experts.
Again, the disadvantage of this approach is that it takes longer to implement. The advantage is that individuals within the organization will have positive commitment to the changes being made.
The Participative Approach
This strategy stresses the full involvement of all of those involved, and affected by, the anticipated changes.
Although driven by senior managers the process will be less management dominated and driven more by groups or individuals within the organisation. The views of all will be taken into account before changes are made. Outside consultants and experts can be used to facilitate the process but they will not make any decisions as to the outcomes.
The main disadvantages of this process are the length of time taken before any changes are made, it can be more costly due to the number of meetings that take place, the payment of consultants/experts over a longer time period and the outcomes cannot be predicted.
However, the benefits of this approach are that any changes made are more likely to be supported due to the involvement of all those affected, the commitment of individuals and groups within the organization will increase as those individuals and groups feel ownership over the changes being implemented.
The organization and individuals also have the opportunity to learn from this experience and will know more about the organization and how it functions, thus increasing their skills, knowledge and effectiveness to the organization.
The five change strategies are not mutually exclusive and a range of strategies can be employed to effect change.
Part of the skill of effective change management is to recognize what strategy/ies to employ, when, where and how to use them.
Other issues such as health and safety, accessibility and union representation may also need to be taken into consideration when deciding what strategy to adopt.
The change management strategies and their main advantages and disadvantages can be summarized as follows:
Directive Approach to Implementing Change
Ignores the views of those affected by the change.
Negotiated Approach to Implementing Change
Change recipients may have some say.
Resistance to change likely to be reduced (or areas of disagreement highlighted).
May be relatively slow.
Anticipated change may have to be modified.
Educative Approach to Implementing Change
People committed to change.
Likely to require more resources and more costs involved.
Participative Approach to Implementing Change
Change more likely to be accepted.
More people committed to change.
Relatively slow to implement.
More complex to manage.
Will require more resources.
Expert Approach to Implementing Change
Use relevant expertise.
Small groups required.
Relatively fast to implement.
Ignores the views of those affected by the change.
END of UNIT
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