Designing Intervention

Published: 2021-07-29 00:55:06
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An organization development intervention is a sequence of activities, actions, and events intended to help an organization improve its performance and effectiveness. Intervention design, or action planning, derives from careful diagnosis and is meant to resolve specific problems and to improve particular areas of organizational functioning identified in the diagnosis. OD interventions vary from standardized programs that have been developed and used in many organizations to relatively unique programs tailored to a specific organization or department. What are effective interventions?
The term intervention refers to a set of sequenced planned actions or events intended to help an organization increase its effectiveness. Interventions purposely disrupt the status quo; they are deliberate attempts to change an organization or subunit toward a different and more effective state. In OD, three major criteria define an effective intervention: (1) the extent to which it fits the needs of the organization; (2) the degree to which it is based on causal knowledge of intended outcomes; and (3) the extent to which it transfers change-management competence to organization members.
The first criterion concerns the extent to which the intervention is relevant to the organization and its members. Effective interventions are based on valid information about the organization’s functioning; they provide organization members with opportunities to make free and informed choices; and they gain members’ internal commitment to those choices. Valid information is the result of an accurate diagnosis of the organization’s functioning. It must reflect fairly what organization members perceive and feel about their primary concerns and issues.
Free and informed choice suggests that members are actively involved in making decisions about the changes that will affect them. It means that they can choose not to participate and that interventions will not be imposed on them. Internal commitment means that organization members accept ownership of the intervention and take responsibility for implementing it. If interventions are to result in meaningful changes, management, staff, and other relevant members must be committed to carrying them out.
The second criterion of an effective intervention involves knowledge of outcomes. Because interventions are intended to produce specific results, they must be based on valid knowledge that those outcomes actually can be produced. Otherwise there is no scientific basis for designing an effective OD intervention. Unfortunately, and in contrast to other applied disciplines such as medicine and engineering, knowledge of intervention effects is in a rudimentary stage of development in OD.
Much of the evaluation research lacks sufficient rigor to make strong causal inferences about the success or failure of change programs. Moreover, few attempts have been made to examine the comparative effects of different OD techniques. All of these factors make it difficult to know whether one method is more effective than another. Despite these problems, more attempts are being made to assess systematically the strengths and weaknesses of OD interventions and to compare the impact of different techniques on organization effectiveness.
The third criterion of an effective intervention involves the extent to which it enhances the organization’s capacity to manage change. The values underlying OD suggest that organization members should be better able to carry out planned change activities on their own following an intervention. They should gain knowledge and skill in managing change from active participation in designing and implementing the intervention. Competence in change management is essential in today’s environment, where technological, social, economic, arid political changes are rapid and persistent.
How to design effective interventions: Designing OD interventions requires paying careful attention to the needs and dynamics of the change situation and crafting a change program that will be consistent with the previously described criteria of effective interventions. Current knowledge of OD interventions provides only general prescriptions for change. There is scant precise information or research about how to design interventions or how they can be expected to interact with organizational conditions to achieve specific results.
Moreover, because the ability to implement most OD interventions is highly dependent on the skills and knowledge of the change agent, the design of an intervention will depend to some extent on the expertise of the practitioner. Two major sets of contingencies that can affect intervention success have been discussed in the OD literature: those having to do with the change situation (including the practitioner) and those related to the target of change. Both kinds of contingencies need to be considered in designing interventions. Contingencies Related to the Change Situation:
Researchers have identified a number of contingencies present in the change situation that can affect intervention success. These include individual differences among organization members (for example, needs for autonomy), organizational factors (for example, management style and technical uncertainty), and dimensions of the change process itself (for example, degree of top-management support). Unless these factors are taken into account in designing an intervention, it will have little impact on organizational functioning or, worse, it may produce negative results.
For example, to resolve motivational problems among blue-collar workers in an oil refinery it is important to know whether interventions intended to improve motivation (for example, job enrichment) will succeed with the kinds of people who work there. In many cases, knowledge of these contingencies results in modifying or adjusting the change program to fit the setting. In applying a reward-system intervention to an organization, the changes might have to be modified depending on whether the firm wants to reinforce individual or team performance.
Although knowledge of contingencies is still at a rudimentary stage of development in OD, researchers have discovered several situational factors that can affect intervention success. More generic contingencies that apply to all OD interventions are presented below. They include the following situational factors that must be considered in designing any intervention: the organization’s readiness for change, its change capability, its cultural context, and the change agent’s skills and abilities. Readiness for Change:
Intervention success depends heavily on the organization being ready for planned change. Indicators of readiness for change include sensitivity to pressures for change, dissatisfaction with the status quo, availability of resources to support change, and commitment of significant management time. When such conditions are present, interventions can be designed to address the organizational issues uncovered during diagnosis. When readiness for change is low, however, interventions need to focus first on increasing the organization’s willingness to change. Capability to Change:
Managing planned change requires particular knowledge and skills, including the ability to motivate change, to lead change, to develop political support, to manage the transition, and to sustain momentum. If organization members do not have these capabilities, then a preliminary training intervention may be needed before members can engage meaningfully in intervention design. Cultural Context: The national culture within which the organization is embedded can exert a powerful influence on members’ reactions to change, so intervention design must account for the cultural values and assumptions held by organization members.
Interventions may have to be modified to fit the local culture, particularly when OD practices developed in one culture are applied to organizations in another culture. For example, a team-building intervention designed for top managers at an American firm may need to be modified when applied to the company’s foreign subsidiaries. Capabilities of the Change Agent: Many failures in OD result when change agents apply interventions beyond their competence. In designing interventions, OD practitioners should assess their experience and expertise against the requirements needed to implement the intervention effectively.
When a mismatch is discovered, practitioners can explore whether the intervention can be modified to fit their talents better, whether another intervention more suited to their skills can satisfy the organization’s needs, or whether they should enlist the assistance of another change agent who can guide the process more effectively. The ethical guidelines under which OD practitioners operate requires full disclosure of the applicability of their knowledge and expertise to the client situation. Practitioners are expected to intervene within their capabilities or to recommend someone more suited to the client’s needs.
Contingencies Related to the Target of Change: OD interventions seek to change specific features or parts of organizations. These targets of change are the main focus of interventions, and researchers have identified two key contingencies related to change targets that can affect intervention success: the organizational issues that the intervention is intended to resolve and the level of organizational system at which the intervention is expected to have a primary impact. Organizational Issues: Organizations need to address certain issues to operate effectively.
Figure 9. 1 lists these issues along with the OD interventions that are intended to resolve them. It shows the following four interrelated issues that are key targets of OD interventions: 1. Strategic issues. Organizations need to decide what products or services they will provide and the markets in which they will compete, as well as how to relate to their environments and how to transform themselves to keep pace with changing conditions. These strategic issues are among the most critical facing organizations in today’s changing and highly competitive environments.
OD methods aimed at these issues are called strategic interventions. The methods are among the most recent additions to OD and include integrated strategic change, mergers and acquisitions, trans-organizational development, and organization learning. 2. Technology and structure issues. Organizations must decide how to divide work into departments and then how to coordinate among those departments to support strategic directions. They also must make decisions about how to deliver products or services and how to link people to tasks.
OD methods for dealing with these structural and technological issues are called techno-structural interventions and include OD activities relating to organization design, employee involvement, and work design. 3. Human resources issues. These issues are concerned with attracting competent people to the organization, setting goals for them, appraising and rewarding their performance, and ensuring that they develop their careers and manage stress. OD techniques aimed at these issues are called human resources management interventions. 4. Human process issues.
These issues have to do with social processes occurring among organization members, such as communication, decision making, leadership, and group dynamics. OD methods focusing on these kinds of issues are called human process interventions; included among them are some of the most common OD techniques, such as conflict resolution and team building. Figure 32. Types of OD Interventions and Organizational Issues Consistent with system theory as discussed earlier, these organizational issues are interrelated and need to be integrated with each other.
The double-headed arrows connecting the different issues in Figure 32 represent the fits or linkages among them. Organizations need to match answers to one set of questions with answers to other sets of questions to achieve high levels of effectiveness. For example, decisions about gaining competitive advantage need to fit with choices about organization structure, setting goals for and rewarding people, communication, and problem solving. The interventions discussed in the lectures are intended to resolve these different concerns as shown in Figure 32, particular OD interventions apply to specific issues.
Thus, intervention design must create change methods appropriate to the organizational issues identified in diagnosis. Moreover, because the organizational issues are themselves linked together, OD interventions similarly need to be integrated with one another. For example, a goal-setting intervention that tries to establish motivating goals may need to be integrated with supporting interventions, such as a reward system that links pay to goal achievement. The key point is to think systemically. Interventions aimed at one kind of organizational issue will invariably have repercussions on other kinds of issues.
Careful thinking about how OD interventions affect the different kinds of issues and how different change programs might be integrated to bring about a broader and more coherent impact on organizational functioning are critical to effective intervention. Organizational Levels: In addition to facing interrelated issues, organizations function at different levels— individual, group, organization and trans-organization. Thus, organizational levels are targets of change in OD. Table 8 lists OD interventions in terms of the level of organization that they primarily affect.
For example, some techno-structural interventions affect mainly individuals and groups (for example, work design), whereas others impact primarily the total organization (for example, structural design). It is important to emphasize that only the primary level affected by the intervention is identified in Table 8. Many OD interventions also have a secondary impact on the other levels. For example, structural design affects mainly the organization level but can have an indirect effect on groups and individuals because it sets the broad parameters for designing work groups and individual jobs.
Again, practitioners need to think systemically. They must design interventions to apply to specific organizational levels, address the possibility of cross-level effects, and perhaps integrate interventions affecting different levels to achieve overall success. For example, an intervention to create self-managed work teams may need to be linked to organization-level changes in measurement and reward systems to promote team-based work. Overview of interventions: The OD interventions, which will be discussed later, are briefly described below.
They represent the major organizational change methods used in OD today. Human Process Interventions: These interventions focus on people within organizations and the processes through which they accomplish organizational goals. These processes include communication, problem solving, group decision making, and leadership. This type of intervention is deeply rooted in the history of OD. It represents the earliest change programs characterizing OD, including the T-group and the organizational confrontation meeting.
Human process interventions derive mainly from the disciplines of psychology and social psychology and the applied fields of group dynamics and human relations. Practitioners applying these interventions generally value human fulfillment and expect that organizational effectiveness follows from improved functioning of people and organizational processes. Table 8 Types of Interventions and Organization Levels Organizational Levels Primary Organization Level Affected Interventions Individual Group Organization Human Process
T-group X X Process consultation X Third-party intervention X X Organization confrontation meeting X X Inter-group relations X X Large-group interventions X Techno-structural Structural Design X Work Design X X Human Resources Management Goal setting X X Performance appraisal X X Reward systems X X X Managing workforce diversity X X Employee wellness X Strategic Self-designing organizations X X Human process interventions related to interpersonal relationships and group dynamics include the following four interventions: 1.
T-group. This traditional change method provides members with experiential learning about group dynamics, leadership, and interpersonal relations. The basic T-group brings ten to fifteen strangers together with a professional trainer to examine the social dynamics that emerge from their interactions. Members gain feedback about the impact of their own behaviors on each other and learn about group dynamics. 2. Process consultation. This intervention focuses on interpersonal relations and social dynamics occurring in work group.
Typically, a process consultant helps group members diagnose group functioning and devise appropriate solutions to process problems, such as dysfunctional conflict, poor communication, and ineffective norms. The aim is to help members gain the skills and understanding necessary to identify and solve problems themselves. 3. Third-party intervention. This change method is a form of process consultation aimed at dysfunctional interpersonal relations in organizations. Interpersonal conflict may derive from substantive issues, such as disputes over work methods, or from interpersonal issues, such as miscommunication.
The third-party intervener helps people resolve conflicts through such methods as problem solving, bargaining, and conciliation. 4. Team building. This intervention helps work groups become more effective in accomplishing tasks. Like process consultation, team building helps members diagnose group processes and devise solutions to problems. It goes beyond group processes, however, to include examination of the group’s task, member roles, and strategies for performing tasks. The consultant also may function as a resource person offering expertise related to the group’s task.
Human process interventions that are more system-wide (than those related to Interpersonal & Groups) typically focus on the total organization or an entire department, as well as on relations between groups. These include the following four change programs: 1. Organization confrontation meeting. This change method mobilizes organization members to identify problems, set action targets, and begin working on problems. It is usually applied when organizations are experiencing stress and when management needs to organize resources for immediate problem solving.
The intervention generally includes various groupings of employees in identifying and solving problems. 2. Inter-group relations. These interventions are designed to improve interactions among different groups or departments in organizations. The microcosm group intervention involves a small group of people whose backgrounds closely match the organizational problems being addressed. This group addresses the problem and develops means to solve it. The inter-group conflict model typically involves a consultant helping two groups understand the causes of their conflict and choose appropriate solutions. . Large-group interventions.
These interventions involve getting a broad variety of stakeholders into a large meeting to clarify important values, to develop new ways of working, to articulate a new vision for the organization, or to solve pressing organizational problems. Such meetings are powerful tools for creating awareness of organizational problems and opportunities and for specifying valued directions for future action. 4. Grid organization development. This normative intervention specifies a particular way to manage an organization.
It is a packaged OD program that includes standardized instruments for measuring organizational practices and specific procedures for helping organizations to achieve the prescribed approach. Techno-structural Interventions: These interventions focus on an organization’s technology (for example, task methods and job design) and structure (for example, division of labor and hierarchy). These change methods are receiving increasing attention in OD, especially in light of current concerns about productivity and organizational effectiveness.
They include approaches to employee involvement, as well as methods for designing organizations, groups, and jobs. Techno-structural intervention are rooted in the disciplines of engineering, sociology, and psychology and in the applied fields of socio-technical systems and organization design, practitioners generally stress both productivity and human fulfillment and expect that organization effectiveness will result from appropriate work designs and organization structures. In the coming lectures we will discuss the following three techno-structural interventions concerned with restructuring organizations: . Structural design. This change process concerns the organization’s division of labor—how to specialize task performances. Interventions aimed at structural design include moving from more traditional ways of dividing the organizations overall work (such as functional, self-contained-unit, and matrix structures) to more integrative and flexible forms (such as process-based and networkbased structures).
Diagnostic guidelines exist to determine which structure is appropriate for particular organizational environments, technologies, and conditions. . Downsizing. This intervention reduces costs and bureaucracy by decreasing the size of the organization through personnel layouts, organization redesign and outsourcing. Each of these downsizing methods must be planned with a clear understanding of the organizations strategy. 3. Reengineering. This recent intervention radically redesigns the organization’s core work processes to create tighter linkage and coordination among the different tasks. This work-flow integration results in faster, more responsive task performance.
Reengineering is often accomplished with new information technology that permits employees to control and coordinate work processes more effectively. Reengineering often fails if it ignores basic principles and processes of OD. Employee involvement (El). This broad category of interventions is aimed at improving employee wellbeing and organizational effectiveness. It generally attempts to move knowledge, power, information, and rewards downward in the organization. El includes parallel structures (such as cooperative union— management projects and quality circles), high-involvement plants, and total quality management.
Work design. These change programs are concerned with designing work for work groups and individual jobs. The intervention includes engineering, motivational, and socio-technical systems approaches that produce traditionally designed jobs and work groups; enriched jobs that provide employees with greater task variety, autonomy, and feedback about results; and self-managing teams that can govern their own task behaviors with limited external control. Human Resources Management Interventions: These interventions would focus on personnel practices used to integrate people into organizations.
These practices include career planning, reward systems, goal setting, and performance appraisal—change methods that traditionally have been associated with the personnel function in organizations. In recent years, interest has grown in integrating human resources management with OD. Human resources management interventions are rooted in the disciplines of economics and labor relations and in the applied personnel practices of wages and compensation employee selection and placements performance appraisal, and career development.
Practitioners in this area typically focus on the people in organizations believing that organizational effectiveness results from improved practices for integrating employees into organizations. Interventions concerning performance management include the following change programs: 1. Goal setting. This change program involves setting clear and challenging goals. It attempts to improve organization effectiveness by establishing a better fit between personal and organizational objectives. Managers and subordinates periodically meet to plan work, review accomplishments and solve problems in achieving goals. 2. Performance appraisal.
This intervention is a systematic process of jointly assessing work-related achievements, strengths, and weaknesses. It is the primary human resources management intervention for providing performance feedback to individuals and work groups. Performance appraisal represents an important link between goal setting and reward systems. 3. Reward systems. This intervention involves the design of organizational rewards to improve employee satisfaction and performance. It includes innovative approaches to pay, promotions and fringe benefits. Three change methods associated with developing and assisting organization members include: . Career planning and development. This intervention helps people choose organizations and career paths and attain career objectives. It generally focuses on managers and professional staff and is seen as a way of improving the quality of their work life. 2. Managing workforce diversity.
This change program makes human resources practices more responsive to a variety of individual needs. Important trends, such as the increasing number of women, ethnic minorities, and physically and mentally challenged people in the workforce, require a more flexible set of polices and practices. . Employee wellness. These interventions include employee assistance programs (EAPs) and stress management. EAPs are counseling programs that help employees deal with substance abuse and mental health, marital, and financial problems that often are associated with poor work performance. Stress management programs help workers cope with the negative consequences of stress at work. They help managers reduce specific sources of stress, such as role conflict and ambiguity, and provide methods for reducing such stress symptoms as hypertension and anxiety.
Strategic Interventions: Interventions that link the internal functioning of the organization to the larger environment and transform the organization to keep pace with changing conditions are among the newest additions to OD. They are implemented organization wide and bring about a fit between business strategy, structure, culture, and the larger environment. The interventions derive from the disciplines of strategic management, organization theory, open—systems theory, and cultural anthropology.
Major interventions for managing organization and environment relationships involve: 1. Integrated strategic change. This comprehensive OD intervention describes how planned change can make a value-added contribution to strategic management. It argues that business strategies and organizational systems must be changed together in response to external and internal disruptions. A strategic change plan helps members manage the transition between a current strategy and organization design and the desired future strategic orientation. 2. Trans-organization development.
This intervention helps organizations enter into alliances, partnerships, and joint ventures to perform tasks or solve problems that are too complex for single organizations to resolve. It helps organizations recognize the need for partnerships and develop appropriate structures for implementing them. 3. Merger and acquisition integration. This intervention describes how OD practitioners can assist two or more organizations to form a new entity. Addressing key strategic, leadership, and cultural issues prior to the legal and financial transaction helps to smooth operational integration.
Interventions for transforming organizations include: 1. Culture change. This intervention helps organizations develop cultures (behaviors, values, believes, and norms) appropriate to their strategies and environments. It focuses on developing a strong organization culture to keep organization members pulling in the same direction. 2. Self-designing organizations. This change program helps organizations gain the capacity to alter them fundamentally. It is a highly participative process involving multiple stakeholders in setting strategic directions and designing and implementing appropriate structures and processes.
Organizations learn how to design and implement their own strategic changes. 3. Organization learning and knowledge management. This intervention describes two interrelated change processes: Organization Learning (OL), which seeks to enhance an organization’s capability to acquire and develop new knowledge, and Knowledge Management (KM), which focuses on how that knowledge can be organized and used to improve organization performance. These interventions move the organization beyond solving existing problems so as to become capable of continuous improvement. Leading and Managing Change
After diagnosis reveals the cause of problem or opportunities for development, organization members begin planning and subsequently leading and implementing the changes necessary to improve organization effectiveness and performance. A large part of OD is concerned with interventions for improving organization. Changes can vary in complexity from the introduction of relatively simple process into a small work group to transformation the strategies and design features of the whole organization. Although change management differs across situation, here we discuss tasks that must be performed in managing any kind of organization change.
Overview of Changes Activities: The OD literature has directed considerable attention to leading and managing change. Much of the material is highly prescriptive, advising mangers about how to plan and implement organizational changes. Traditionally, change management has focused on identifying sources of resistance to change and offering ways to overcome them. More recent contribution has challenged the focus on resistance and has been aimed at creating vision and desired future, gaining political support for them, and managing the transition of the organization toward them.
The diversity of practical advice for managing change can be organized into five major activities, as shown in figure 33. The activities contribute to effective change management and are listed roughly in the order in which they typically are performed. Each activity represents a key element in change leadership. The first activity involves motivating change and includes creating a readiness for change among organization member and helping them address resistance to change. Leadership must create an environment in which people accept the need for change and commit physical and psychological energy to it.
Motivation is a critical issue in starting change because ample evidence indicates that people and organization seek to preserve the status quo and are willing to change only when there is compelling reason to do so. The second activity is concerned with creating a vision and is closely aligned with leadership activities. The vision provides a purpose and reason for change and describes the desired future state. Together, they provide the “why” and “what” of planned change. The third activity involves developing political support for change. Organizations are composed of powerful individuals and groups that can either block or promote change.
The fourth activity is concerned with managing the transition from the current state to the desired future state. It involves creating a plan for managing the change activities as well as planning special management structure for operating the organization during the transition. The fifth activity involves sustaining momentum for change so that it will be carried to completion. This includes providing resources for implementation the changes, building a support system for change agent, developing new competencies and skills, and reinforcing the new behaviors needed to implement the changes. Figure 33.
Activity Contributing to Effective Change Management Each of the activities shown in Figure 33 is important for managing change. Although little research has been conducted on their relative contributions, organization leaders must give careful attention to each activity when planning and implementing organizational change. Unless individuals are motivated and committed to change, unfreezing the status quo will be extremely difficult. In the absence of vision, change is likely to be disorganized and diffuse. Without the support of powerful individuals and groups, change may be blocked and possibly sabotaged.
Unless the transition process is managed carefully, the organization will have difficulty functioning while it moves from the current state to the future state. Without efforts to sustain momentum for change, the organization will have problems carrying the changes through to completion. Thus, all five activities must be managed effectively to realize success. Let’s now discuss more fully each of these change activities, directing attention to how the activities contribute to planning and implementing organizational change. Motivating Change: Organizational change involves moving from the known to the unknown.
Because the future is uncertain and may adversely affect people’s competencies, worth and coping abilities, organization members generally do not support change unless compelling reason convince them to do so. Similarly, organizations tend to be heavily invested in the status quo, and they resist changing it in the face of uncertain future benefits. Consequently, a key issue in planning for action is how to motivate commitment to organizational change. As shown in figure 33, this requires attention to two related tasks: creating readiness for change and overcoming resistance to change.
Creating Readiness for Change: One of the more fundamental axioms of OD is that people’s readiness for change depends on creating a felt need for change. This involves making people so dissatisfied with the status quo that they are motivated to try new work process, technology, or ways of behaving. Creating such dissatisfaction can be difficult, as any one knows who has tried to lose weight, stop smoking, or change some other habitual behavior. Generally, people and organizations need to experience deep levels of hurt before they will seriously undertake meaningful change.
For example IBM, GM and Sears experienced threats to their very survival before they undertook significant change program. The following three methods can help generate sufficient dissatisfaction to produce change: 1. Sensitize organizations to pressure for change. Innumerable pressures for change operate both externally and internally to organizations. As mentioned earlier, modern organizations face unprecedented environmental pressures to change themselves, including heavy foreign competition, rapidly changing technology, and the draw of global markets.
Internally pressures to change include new leadership, poor product quality, high production costs and excessive employee absenteeism and turnover. Before these pressures can serve as triggers for change, however, organizations must be sensitive to them. The pressure must pass beyond an organization’s threshold of awareness if managers are to respond to them. Many organizations, such as Kodak, Apple, Polaroid and Jenny Craig, set their threshold of awareness too high and neglected pressure for changes until those pressures reached disastrous levels.
Organizations can make themselves more sensitive to pressure for change by encouraging leaders to surround themselves with devil’s advocate; by cultivating external network that comprise people or organizations with different perspective and views; by visiting other organizations to gain exposure to new ideas and methods; and by using external standards of performance, such as competitions’ progress or benchmarks, rather than the organization’s own past standards of performance. Reveal discrepancies between current and desired states.
In this approach to generating a felt need for change, information about the organization’s current functioning is gathered and compared with desired states of operation. (See “Creating a Vision” later for more information about desired future states. ) These desired states may include organizational goals and standards, as well as general vision of a more desirable future state. Significant discrepancies between actual and ideal states can motivate organization members to initiate corrective changes, particularly when members are committed to achieving those ideals.
A major goal of diagnosis, as described earlier, is to provide members with feedback about current organizational functioning so that the information can be compared with goals or with desired function states. Such feedback can energize action to improve the organization. 3. Convey credible positive expectation for the change. Organization members invariably have expectations about the result of organizational changes. The contemporary approach to planned change described earlier suggest that these expectations can play an important role in generating motivation for change.
The expectations can serve as a fulfilling prophecy, leading members to invest energy in changes program that they expect will succeed. When members expect success, they are likely to develop greater commitment to the change process and to direct more energy into the constructive behaviors needed to implement it. The key to achieving these positive effects is to communicate realistic, positive expectation about the organizational changes. Organization members also can be taught about the benefit of positive expectations and be encouraged to set credible positive expectations for the change program.
Overcoming Resistance to Change: Change can generate deep resistance in people and in organization, thus making it difficulty, if not possible, to implement organizational improvement. At a personal level, change can arouse considerable anxiety about letting go of the known and moving to an uncertain future. People may be unsure whether their existing skills and contribution will be valued in the future, or have significant questions about whether they can learn to function effectively and to achieve benefits in the new situation.
At the organization level, resistance to change can come from three sources. Technical resistance comes from the habit of following common producers and the consideration of sunk costs invested in the status quo. Political resistance can arise when organization changes threaten powerful stakeholders, such as top executive or staff personal, or call into question the past decisions of leaders. Organization change often implies a different allocation of already scare resources, such as capital, training budgets and good people.
Finally cultural resistance takes the form of systems and procedures that reinforce the status quo, promoting conformity to existing values, norms, and assumptions about how things should operate. There are at least three major strategies for dealing with resistance to change. Empathy and support. A first step in overcoming resistance is to learn how people are experiencing change. This strategy can identify people who are having trouble accepting the changes, the nature of their resistance, and possible ways to overcome it, but it requires a great deal of empathy and support.
It demands willingness to suspend judgment and to see the situation from another’s perspective, a process called active listening. When people feel that those people who are responsible for managing change are genuinely interested in their feelings and perception, they are likely to be less defensive and more willing to share their concern and fears. This more open relationship not only provides useful information about resistance but also helps establish the basis for the kind of joint problem solving needed to overcome barriers to change. . Communication. People resist change when they are uncertain about its consequences. Lack of adequate information fuels rumors and gossip and adds to the anxiety generally associated with change. Effective communication about changes and their likely result can reduce this speculation and allay unfounded fears. It can help members realistically prepare for change. However, communication is also one of the most frustrating aspects of managing change. Organization members constantly receive data about people, changes and politics.
Managers and OD practitioners must think seriously about how to break through this stream of information. One strategy is to make change information salient by communicating through a new different channel. If most information is delivered through memos and emails, the change information can be sent through meeting and presentations. Another method that can be effective during largescale change is to substitute change information for normal operating information deliberately. This sends a message that changing one’s activities is a critical part of a member’s job. 3. Participation and involvement.
One of the oldest and most effective strategies for overcoming resistance is to involve organization members directly in planning and implementing change. Participation can lead both to designing high quality changes and to overcoming resistance to implementing them. Members can provide a diversity of information and ideas, which can contribute to making the innovations effective and appropriate to the situation. They also can identify pitfalls and barriers to implementation. Involvement in planning the changes increases the likelihood that members’ interest and needs will be accounted for during the intervention.
Consequently, participants will be committed to implementing the changes because doing so will suit their interests and meet their needs. Moreover, for people having strong needs for involvement, the act of participation itself can be motivating, leading to greater effort to make the changes work. The Life Cycle of Resistance to Change: Organization programs such as downsizing, reengineering and total quality management involve innovations and changes that will probably encounter some degree of resistance. This resistance will be evident in individuals and groups in such forms as controversy, hostility, and conflict, either overt or covert.
The response to change tends to move through a life cycle. Phase 1 In the first phase, there are only a few people who see the need for change and take reform seriously, As a fringe element of the organization, they may be openly criticized, ridiculed, and persecuted by whatever methods the organization has at its disposal and thinks appropriate to handle dissidents and force them to conform to established organizational norms. The resistance looks massive. At this point the change program may die, or it may continue to grow. Large organizations seem to have more difficulty bringing about change than smaller organizations.
One of IBM’s business partners has said, for example, that trying to get action from IBM is like swimming through “giant pools of peanut butter. ” Phase 2 As the movement for change begins to grow the forces for and against it become identifiable. The change is discussed, and is more thoroughly understood by more of the organizations members. Greater understanding may lessen the perceived threat of the change. In time, the novelty and strangeness of the change tends to disappear. Phase 3 In this phase there is a direct conflict and showdown between the forces for and against the change.
This phase will probably mean life or death to the change effort, because the exponents of the change often underestimate the strength of their opponents. Those in organization who see change as good and needed often find it difficult to believe how far the opposition will go to put a stop to the change. Phase 4 If the supporters of the change are in power after the decisive battles, they will see the remaining resistance as stubborn and a nuisance. There is still a possibility that the resisters will mobilize enough support to shift the balance of power.
Wisdom is necessary in dealing with overt opposition and also with the sizable element that are not openly opposed to the change but also not convinced of its benefits. Phase 5 In the last phase, the resisters to the change are as few and as alienated as the advocates were in the first phase. Although the description of the five phases may give the impression that a battle is being waged between those trying to bring about change and those resisting the change (and sometimes this is the situation), the actual conflict is usually more subtle and may only surface in small verbal disagreements, questions, reluctance, and so forth.
To better understand the phases, see the Five Phases of Resistance to Change in Action. Regardless of how much resistance there is to the organizations change program, the change will to some extent evolve through the five phases described above. Depending on the change program, however, some of the phases may be brief, omitted, or repeated. If the last phase is not solidified, the change process will move into first phase again. General Electric’s retired CEO, John F. Welch, has written: People always ask, “Is the change over? Can we stop now? You’ve got to tell them, “No, it’s just begun. ” They must come to understand that it is never ending. Leaders must create an atmosphere where people understand that change is continuing process, not an event. The Five Phases of Resistance to Change Phase 1 In the 1970s the environmental movement began to grow. The First Earth Day was held in 1970. Widespread interest in environmental concerns subsided during the 1980s. Some political officials neglected environmental concerns, and environmentalists were often portrayed as extremists and radicals (even antidevelopment).
The forces for change were small, but pressure for change persisted through court actions, elected officials, and group actions. Phase 2 Environmental supporters and opponents became more identifiable in the 1980s. Secretary of the Interior James Watt was perhaps the most vocal and visible opponent of environmental concerns and served as a “lightening rod” for pro-environmental forces like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. As time passed, educational efforts by environmental groups increasingly delivered their message. The public now has information and scientific data that enabled it to understand the problem.
Phase 3 The Clean Air Act passed by Congress in 1990 represented the culmination of years of confrontation between pro- and anti-environmental forces. The bill was passed several months after national and worldwide Earth Day events. Corporations criticized for contributing to environmental problems took out large newspaper and television ads to explain how they were reducing pollution and cleaning up the environment.
The “greening” of corporations became very popular. Phase 4 One example is the confrontation between Greenpeace (an environmental group) and Shell Oil. The Greenpeace group had been campaigning for weeks to block he Royal Dutch/Shell group from disposing of the towering Brent Spar oil-storage rig by sinking it deep in the Atlantic Ocean. As a small helicopter sought to land Greenpeace protesters on the rig’s deck, Shell blasted high-powered water canons to fend off the aircraft. This was all captured on film and shown on TV around the world. Four days after the incident, Shell executives made a humiliating about-face; they agreed to comply with Greenpeace requests and dispose of the Brent Spar on land. The incident, like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, shows how highprofile cases can ignite worldwide public interest.
Phase 5 Much of the world now sees environmentally responsible behavior as a necessity. Near-zero automobile emissions are moving closer to a reality. Recycling has become a natural part of everyday life for many people. But new ways to be environmentally responsible are still be Evaluating and Institutionalizing Organization Development Interventions This lecture focuses on the final stage of the organization development cycle— evaluation and institutionalization. Evaluation is concerned with providing feed-back to practitioners and organization members about the progress and impact of interventions.
Such information may suggest the need for further diagnosis and modification of the change program, or it may show that the intervention is successful. Institutionalization involves making a particular change a permanent part of the organization’s normal functioning. It ensures that the results of successful change programs persist over time. Evaluation processes consider both the implementation success of the intended intervention and the longterm results it produces. Two key aspects of effective evaluation are measurement and research design.
Time institutionalization or long- term persistence of intervention effects is examined in a framework showing the organization characteristics, intervention dimensions, and processes contributing to institutionalization of OD interventions in organizations. Evaluating OD Interventions: Assessing organization development interventions involves judgments about whether an intervention has been implemented as intended and, if so, whether it is having desired results. Managers investing resources in OD efforts increasingly are being held accountable for results—being asked to justify the expenditures in terms of hard, bottom-line outcomes.
More and more, managers are asking for rigorous assessment of OD interventions and are using the results to make important resource allocation decisions about OD, such as whether to continue to support the change program, to modify or alter it, or to terminate it and try something else. Traditionally, OD evaluation has been discussed as something that occurs after the intervention. That view can be misleading, however. Decisions about the measurement of relevant variables and the design of the evaluation process should be made early in the OD cycle so that evaluation choices can be integrated with intervention decisions.
There are two distinct types of OD evaluation—one intended to guide the implementation of interventions and another to assess their overall impact. The key issues in evaluation are measurement and research design. Implementation and Evaluation Feedback: Most discussions and applications of OD evaluation imply that evaluation is something done after intervention. It is typically argued that once the intervention is implemented, it should be evaluated to discover whether it is producing intended effects. For example, it might be expected that a job enrichment program would lead to higher employee satisfaction and performance.
After implementing job enrichment, evaluation would involve assessing whether these positive results indeed did occur. This after-implementation view of evaluation is only partially correct. It assumes that interventions have been implemented as intended and that the key purpose of evaluation is to assess their effects. In many, if not most, organization development programs, however, implementing interventions cannot be taken for granted. Most OD interventions require significant changes in people’s behaviors and ways of thinking about organizations, but hey typically offer only broad prescriptions for how such changes are to occur. For example, job enrichment calls for adding discretion, variety, and meaningful feedback to people’s jobs. Implementing such changes requires considerable learning and experimentation as employees and managers discover how to translate these general prescriptions into specific behaviors and procedures. This learning process involves much trial and error and needs to be guided by information about whether behaviors and procedures are being changed as intended.
Consequently, we should expand our view of evaluation to include both during-implementation assessment of whether interventions are actually being implemented and after-implementation evaluation of whether they are producing expected results. Both kinds of evaluation provide organization members with feedback about interventions. Evaluation aimed at guiding implementation may be called implementation feedback, and assessment intended to discover intervention outcomes may be called evaluation feedback. Figure 36 shows how the two kinds of feedback fit with the diagnostic and intervention stages of OD.
The application of OD to a particular organization starts with a thorough diagnosis of the situation, which helps identify particular organizational problems or areas for improvement, as well as likely causes underlying them. Next, from an array of possible interventions, one or some set is chosen as a means of improving the organization. The choice is based on knowledge linking interventions to diagnosis and change management. In most cases, the chosen intervention provides only general guidelines for organizational change, leaving managers and employees with the task of translating those guidelines into specific behaviors and procedures.
Implementation feedback informs this process by supplying data about the different features of the intervention itself and data about the immediate effects of the intervention. These data, colleted repeatedly and at short intervals, provide a series of snapshots about how the intervention is progressing. Organization members can use this information, first, to gain a clearer understanding of the intervention (the kinds of behaviors and procedures required to implement it) and, second, to plan for the next implementation steps.
This feedback cycle might proceed for several rounds, with each round providing members with knowledge about the intervention and ideas lot the next stage of implementation. Implementation and Evaluation Feedback Once implementation feedback informs organization members that the intervention is sufficiently in place, evaluation feedback begins, in contrast to implementation feedback, it is concerned with the overall impact of the intervention and with whether resources should continue to be allocated to it or to other possible interventions. Evaluation feedback takes longer to gather and interpret than does implementation feedback.
It typically includes a broad array of outcome measures, such as performance job satisfaction, absenteeism, and turnover. Negative results on these measures tell members either that the initial diagnosis was seriously flawed or that tile wrong intervention was chosen. Such feedback might prompt additional diagnosis and a search for a more effective intervention. Positive results, on the other hand, tell members that the intervention produced expected outcomes and might prompt a search for ways to institutionalize the changes, making them a permanent part of the organizations normal functioning.
An example of a job enrichment intervention helps to clarity the OD stages and feedback linkages shown in Figure 36. Suppose the initial diagnosis reveals that employee performance and satisfaction are low and that jobs being overly structured and routinized is an underlying cause of this problem. An inspection of alternative interventions to improve productivity and satisfaction suggests that job enrichment might be applicable for this situation.
Existing job enrichment theory proposes that increasing employee discretion, task variety, and feedback can lead to improvements in work quality and attitudes and that this job design and outcome linkage is especially strong for employees who have growth needs—needs for challenge, autonomy, and development. Initial diagnosis suggests that most of the employees have high growth needs and that the existing job designs prevent the fulfillment of these needs. Therefore, job enrichment seems particularly suited to this situation.
Managers and employees now start to translate the general prescriptions offered by job enrichment theory into specific behaviors and procedures. At this stage, the intervention is relatively broad and must be tailored to fit the specific situation. To implement the intervention, employees might decide on the following organizational changes: job discretion can be increased through more participatory styles of supervision; task variety can be enhanced by allowing employees to inspect their job outputs; and feedback can be made more meaningful by providing employees with quicker and more specific information about their performances.
After three months of trying to implement these changes, the members use implementation feedback to see how the intervention is progressing. Questionnaires and interviews (similar to those used in diagnosis) are administered to measure the different features of job enrichment (discretion, variety, and feedback) and to assess employees’ reactions to the changes. Company records are analyzed to show the short-term effects on productivity of the intervention. The data reveal that productivity and satisfaction have changed very little since the initial diagnosis.
Employ perceptions of job discretion and feedback also have shown negligible change, but perceptions of task variety have shown significant improvement. In-depth discussion and analysis of this first round of implementation feedback help supervisors gain a better feel for the kinds of behaviors needed to move toward a participatory leadership style. This greater clarification of one feature of the intervention leads to a decision to involve the supervisors in leadership training to develop the skills and knowledge needed to lead anticipatively.
A decision also is made to make job feedback more meaningful by translating such data into simple bar graphs, rather than continuing to provide voluminous statistical reports. After these modifications have been in effect for about three months, members institute a second round of implementation feedback to see how the intervention is progressing. The data now show that productivity and satisfaction have moved moderately higher than in the first round of feedback and that employee perceptions of task variety and feedback are both high. Employee perceptions of discretion, however, remain relatively low.
Members conclude that the variety and feedback dimensions of job enrichment are sufficiently implemented but that the discretion component needs improvement. They decide to put more effort into supervisory training and to ask OD practitioners to provide online counseling and coaching to supervisors about their leadership styles. After four more months, a third round of implementation feedback occurs. The data now show that satisfaction and performance are significantly higher than in the first round of feedback and moderately higher than in the second round.
The data also show that discretion, variety, and feedback are all high, suggesting that the job enrichment intervention has been successfully implemented. Now evaluation feedback is used to assess the overall effectiveness of the program. The evaluation feedback includes all the data from the satisfaction and performance measures used in the implementation feedback. Because both the immediate and broader effects of the intervention are being evaluated, additional outcomes are examined, such as employee absenteeism, maintenance costs, and reactions of other organizational units not included in job enrichment.
The full array of evaluation data might suggest that after one year from the start of implementation, the job enrichment program is having expected effects and thus should be continued and made more permanent. Measurement: Providing useful implementation and evaluation feedback involves two activities: selecting the appropriate variables and designing good measures. Selecting Variables : Ideally, the variables measured in OD evaluation should derive from the theory or conceptual model underlying the intervention. The model should incorporate the key features of the intervention as well as its expected results.
The general diagnostic models described in Chapters 5 and 6 meet these criteria, as do the more specific models introduced in Chapters 12 through 20. For example, the job-level diagnostic model described in Chapter 6 proposes several major features of work: task variety, feedback, and autonomy. The theory argues that high levels of these elements can be expected to result in high levels of work quality and satisfaction. In addition, as we shall see in Chapter 16, the strength of this relationship varies with the degree of employee growth need: the higher the need, the more that job enrichment produces positive results.
The job-level diagnostic model suggests a number of measurement variables for implementation and evaluation feedback. Whether the intervention is being implemented could be assessed by determining how many job descriptions have been rewritten to include more responsibility or how many organization members have received cross-training in other job skills. Evaluation of the immediate and long- term impact of job enrichment would include measures of employee performance and satisfaction over time. Again, these measures would likely be included in the initial diagnosis, when the company’s problems or areas for improvement are discovered.
Measuring both intervention and outcome variables is necessary for implementation and evaluation feedback. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency in OD to measure only outcome variables while neglecting intervention variables altogether. It generally is assumed that the intervention has been implemented and attention, therefore, is directed to its impact on such organizational outcomes as performance, absenteeism, and satisfaction. As argued earlier, implementing OD interventions generally take considerable time and learning.
It must be empirically determined that the intervention has been implemented; it cannot simply be assumed. Implementation feedback serves this purposes guiding the implementation process and helping to interpret outcome data Outcome measures are ambiguous without knowledge of how well the intervention has been implemented. For example, a negligible change in measures of performance and satisfaction could mean that the wrong intervention has been chosen, that the correct intervention has not been implemented effectively, or that the wrong variables have been measured.
Measurement of the intervention variables helps determine the correct interpretation of outcome measures. As suggested above, the choice of intervention variables to measure should derive from the conceptual framework underlying the OD intervention. OD research and theory increasingly have come to identify specific organizational changes needed to implement particular interventions. These variables should guide not only implementation of the intervention but also choices about what change variables to measure for evaluative purposes.
Additional sources of knowledge about intervention variables can be found in the numerous references at the end of each of the intervention chapters in this book and in several of the books in the Wiley Series on Organizational Assessment and Change. The choice of what outcome variables to measure also should be dictated by intervention theory, which specifies the kinds of results that can be expected from particular change programs. Again, the material in this book and elsewhere identifies numerous outcome measures, such as job satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, organizational commitment, absenteeism, turnover, and productivity.
Historically, OD assessment has focused on attitudinal outcomes, such as job satisfaction, while neglecting hard measures, such as performance. Increasingly, however, managers and researchers are calling for development of behavioral measures of OD outcomes. Managers are interested primarily in applying OD to change work-related behaviors that involve joining, remaining, and producing at work, and are assessing OD more frequently in terms of such bottom-line results. Macy and Mirvis have done extensive research to develop a standardized set of behavioral outcomes for assessing and comparing intervention results.

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