People tend to fear change, and employees may be reluctant to see their familiar processes and software programs thrown out. In situations of change, employees tend to move from their ‘comfort zone’, where they feel secure confident and in control of their lives and work, to the ‘no zone’ that they become paralyzed at news of the change of their work, they are affected and performing bad because of the sock and then they move to the ‘gap zone’, where they are trying to find ways to react. The challenge for the manager who is implementing the change is to move the employees to the ‘go zone’, where everyone is going ahead the change.
There are many ways to combat resistance to change. One way is to ensure that employees see that the management is completely committed to ensuring the change occurs. Second, it is important for the change vision to be communicated clearly to all employees so that everybody understands what to expect. Part of why people resist change is the fear of the unknown. Furthermore, scope creep is a risk of every project. This risk involves the scope of the project becoming larger over time. This is especially a threat in change management situations.
After a period of time when many people interfere, the scope of the report change has widened so broadly as to require things like a clip art image of a giraffe on the fourth page and a coffee stain on the back. In order to avoid scope creep in change management, it is vital that the scope of the change be explicitly stated and communicated to all whom the change affects. Griffin had to come up with the right ways to implement changes in a high-urgency situation. The time was pressing and the employees were separated between enthusiasm and resistance, while he was a totally brand new person in the organization.
In order to gain the trust of the employees and credibility he used high communication levels in order to approach a low disruptive approach through the mobilize phase and gradually he proceeded to movement and sustain phase. To be more accurate he tried to create an in person open and honest communication around the organization. He tried to explain what exactly the issues were without trying to hide the truth or creating confusion about his goals; his purpose was just to make the company competitive and efficient and not just compared to other government agencies but also to the private own industry .
The next step was to create the strategic business plan and so he did. The strategic plan was ranging from business strategy to individual growth and development. The change plan as WSSC managers believed required both personal and corporate transformation and needed to implement through a value-driven culture. First step was the Competitive Action Program (CAP) by creating a steering committee consisting of 12-15 member of a cross section of work functions and hierarchical levels whose task was to review and approve for implementation best-in-class practices in the industry.
Although most of the goals were encompassed in CAP other aspects, such as an effort to increase management diversity to better represent the customer base served by the organization, had to be changed to support these efforts. Another step that Griffin preceded was binding a fiscal plan committing to freeze rates for the next five years and to reach external shareholders and gain their support. On the way to change and in order for the company to be more cost efficient and culture reorganization was needed.
Actually between 1996 and 2002 there was a 30% reduction in personnel when CAP identified the competitive gap but also by offering the incentive of early retirement. In the effort of the WSSC to reduce costs beside the cut of the number of the employees also the staffing levels were reduced. This means that they decided to have less staff at night because usually at the night the consumption and the emergencies are low regarding that their clients sleep and do not need to consume at these hours. Furthermore several groups of managers were sent to a local training facility to participate in team building and leadership programs.
Griffin tried also to motivate his staff using direct discussions about their problems and concerns and empowering the vital side of their existence inside the organization. Team-base incentive system was also implemented. Team performance incentives were accompanied by 360-degree evaluations with great emphasis on continuous improvement and goal transparency. Another major staff development was the grouping of teams that assigned a responsible party to a project from start to finish and the successful new customer care programs.
A customer care newsletter called ‘Connections’ to spread information internally while externally WSSC hosted fairs and educational programs for the communities. To go even further, a major innovation and step towards change was the creation of the flexible worker program. Employees were receiving additional compensation through diversifying their skills and on the other hand this cross training helped the company to maximize the skills and availability of its workers overcoming the previous needs for the help of experts.
The union was consulted and briefed at any significant stage, especially when setting the flexible-worker steps and compensation grades creating even more friendly and warm atmosphere inside the organization. Finally, the Entrepreneurial team was searching for new opportunities of making profits such as selling specialized laboratory services to the government (for example in the army) and the private sector. The decision of the change of WSSC eliminated many risks and dangers if we consider that there was a division between the employees.
Half of the working labor was enthusiastic about the changes but the rest of them were strongly resisting. After evaluating the company’s outcomes between 199-2002 we can realize the great importance of the restructuring plan. WSSC was a company with many disappointed customers because of the unstable pricing policy, dissatisfied government owners because on the budget conflicts and due to the unprofessional behavior of the whole company towards competition.
Baring in mind that the consultants found after research that the gap between WSSC’s efficiency and that of the best-in-class private companies was 21% and after the changes implemented was dropped to3. 5% there is no space for doubting about the change plan. The work labor of the company was more skilled and efficient, the services and the price policy were more competitive the costs were significantly reduced and all leaded the company to a better business perspective. The company also through these changes managed to create strong relationships between its consumers and its business partners.
The outcome of a well established change plan as that of WSSC company and John Griffin is beyond any further questioning. Every step of the change was carefully thought and smoothly implemented and that was the major reason of its success. Now WWSC and John Griffin have to face a new challenge. Is it healthy for an organization to go through so many changes in such a short period of time? Is there any space for further improvement? That is the main question. The entrepreneurial team and its manager John McLeod are looking to find new opportunities in order to increase revenues.
The expansion of the core business of the company on outside activities such as selling specialized laboratory services to local country and to the private sector. Moreover, the company was considering providing the local military bases with water and sewer services. One more opportunity in the horizon is the option of WSSC partnering with community businesses and industry in order to reduce costs even more. The expansion of WSSC in more activities can lead the company to a greater success.
It is very possible for the company to manage with further changes to be more competitive, increase its revenues and its market share and in the meanwhile create new challenges for its employees. The new opportunities can create better personal development chances for the employees and can work as motivation for personal improvement. It is wise to keep in mind that the company’s environment after the first changes has completely changed. WSSC’s work labor is now more skilled, ambitious and willing to work and develop through the company’s hierarchy.