Unseen Consequences in Organizational Change
I currently work for command Zulu, which is a detachment from the headquarters located in Virginia. Zulu employs two officers and four enlisted personnel whose primary job is conducting inspections on all East Coast Trident submarines. The two officers fill the roles of Officer in Charge and Assistant Officer in Charge. The four enlisted personnel are specialists in the areas of security, safety, technical operations, and administrative programs. An organizational change occurred a couple of years ago that shifted our chain of command to a higher headquarters. Command Zulu’s organizational culture significantly changed after the reorganization left the trust and customer relationships in shambles. This paper will briefly described the reasons for change, players associated with the change, leadership strategies, results, and lessons learned. The reason for change to the organization was to increase autonomy and subjectivity of the inspections.
The reorganization focused on autonomy of the team and subjectivity of inspection results. Removing the team from the direct chain of command of the inspected units allows each team member autonomy to dig deep into the administrative programs. However, the change did not consider how relationships would negatively influence the mission of command Zulu. Specifically, the customers (e.g. inspected units) relied heavily on our assistance in preparing and monitoring their day-to-day performance for self-assessment. The reorganization meant that anytime command Zulu visits and subordinate unit inspectors must generate and submit a formal report to the chain of command. There are no free looks and inspected units felt betrayed by the change in past business practices. A misunderstanding of command Zulu’s primary mission and the requirements after the reorganization results in a feeling of betrayal since this was not communicated to all stakeholders. Regardless, leadership did not develop an effective plan to implement the change nor was there any strategy for the implementation and follow-up.
The strategy for change implementation was haphazard and not well thought-out. A plan for change did not exist nor did it include any of the recommendations that Spector (2012) discussed as effective tools for managing organizational change. Specifically, none of the elements of Kurt Lewin’s three stages of change implementation that Spector discussed as unfreezing, moving, and refreezing organizational norms were directed. Instead, Command Zulu reorganized without fully explaining the reasons to the customers (e.g. inspected units). The lack of understanding resulted in negative relationships for at least a year. Leadership never considered associated risk without a plan for change and what Bruch, Gerber, and Maier (2005) explained as creating a haphazard or improvised plan and failing to determine whether the organization needs...