The world in which business operates is changing at a rapid pace. Developments in technology, communications and competition have forced businesses to update their work practices and become globally competitive.
Pressures for change in business can arise internally, that is from staff or management observing current processes, or from external pressures like changes to government policies. There are several pressures currently affecting large organizations in Australia, they are changing markets, technological innovation, Total Quality Management, changes to the nature of industrial relations (where wages and working conditions can be negotiated with staff), flatter organisational structures, HR perspective and environmental issues. These pressures for change must be recognised by management and to effectively manage change, an organization's leaders must enact a change management process.
Effective change management is a three-step process. Psychologist Kurt Lewin identified the first step as ‘Unfreezing the present situation’. The term unfreezing refers to the way in which management must prepare for the change and overcome any resistance that they may face. Resistance to change is human nature, as people are generally reluctant to move from a current, comfortable situation, but this resistance can be overcome using a variety of methods. These methods include communication, participation, support, negotiation, manipulation and threats, ranging from the least severe (communication), to the most severe (threats). The most effective strategy to unfreezing the present situation is to minimise resistance, through the use of open communication channels and participation with employees, without resorting to severe actions.
Once resistance has been overcome and the organization is ready for the change, the next step is ‘Moving to the new state’. This step is the actual implementation of the change itself. New policies are communicated and procedures are re-evaluated. Once the change is implemented, management must work to ‘Refreeze in the new situation’.
This final step is of upmost importance because it will ensure that staff does not drift off into old habits and revert to the old procedures. Management must work to offer support to staff and monitor the new situation and ensure that the process of change was an effective one.
The issue of change has struck all businesses worldwide with the growing rate of globalisation. Globalisation is the erosion of national borders, decline of the power of national governments and the rise of organizations that operate across national borders. Globalisation is generally characterised by less restricted world trade (in the form of reduced tariffs and fewer trade barriers) and the rapid movement of money around the globe (commonly in the form of electronic commerce).
Globalisation has been underway for a few decades now, but the 1980’s saw the biggest set of changes in Australia’s...