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The Heart of Change Review

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Introduction Technology is forcing organizations to change, sometimes rapidly, if they are to survive in today’s world. Thanks to advanced communication, globalization, and computerization, these changes must be anticipated and accepted as the new norm. Understanding, accommodating, and using change are now part of a manager’s job requirement. Resisting the reality of change will lead to conflict, reduced performance, job dissatisfaction, decreased morale, and increased turnover (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 7-9).

In The Heart of Change, John Kotter and Dan Cohen interview hundreds of successful leaders to identify the key to successful change.

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According to Kotter and Cohen, change is successful when you make people feel differently. Emphasis is placed on the “see-feel-change” dynamic. Successful change does not come from analysis and reports. Instead, people must be shown the problems how and to solve them, ultimately changing their behavior (Kotter &Cohen, p. 7). These people must physically “see” a problem, “feel” a sense of urgency to fix the problem, only then will they begin to “change” their behavior.

This “see-feel-change” concept is used throughout the eight-step process described by Kotter and Cohen in order to implement successful organizational change. Discussion Step 1: Increase Urgency The biggest obstacles that stop the launch of change are complacency, immobilization, hesitation, and the “you-can’t-make-me-move” mentality (Kotter & Cohen, p. 17). These behaviors stem from arrogance, fear, pessimism, and sometimes anger, all of which result in resistance to change.

To overcome these obstacles, management must create a sense of urgency to create new and positive emotions in these employees (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 06). This can be done with an inspirational speech, or even a video from a previously-loyal-now-unhappy client. Whatever vehicle used, management must “go after the emotions [of employees] with concrete, smellable evidence” (Kotter & Cohen, p. 30). This was exactly what was done in the story from “Gloves on the Boardroom Table” (Kotter & Cohen, p. 28) and “The Videotape of the Angry Customer” (Kotter &Cohen, p. 18). Management must be careful to create a sense of urgency without instilling fear or anger, unless it can be turned into a positive energy.

Fear and Anger lead to self-preservation instead of organizational transformation (Kotter & Cohen, p. 27). Many times, employees know that the old way is no longer working, and they just need clarity of direction. Management must create emotions so powerful, that each person feels it within their being the need for action. Step 2: Build the Guiding Team Once a sense of urgency is created, people are more willing to help, even with the knowledge of increased risk and decreased personal reward.

This is the time to build a powerful guiding team, made up of the right people, with the right leadership capacity, positive teamwork skills, credibility, and with the right connections (Kotter & Cohen, p. 37, 43). This may mean that the current management team is no longer appropriate, even if they are considered “good” people. What has worked in the past no longer applies (Kotter & Cohen, p. 47). According to Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, the new guiding team should contain people with the Big Five Personality Dimensions. Extroverts tend to be sociable, gravitating others toward them.

Those with high emotional stability are associated with high levels of employee motivation. These people and also tend to be more agreeable, maintaining good interpersonal relationships with others. The guiding team should made up of conscientious people who are dependable, organized, and responsible. The team should be made up of people who are open to experience. These people are willing to take risks, are creative, and intelligent. Finally, the guiding team should be ma de up of people who have an internal locus of control. These people believe they are responsible for their fate.

When the team performs well, they feel it is because of their effort and skill (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 82-84). In order for this team to be successful, they must be “empowered with enough authority to make necessary decisions, and must be enabled with knowledge to know when to exercise that authority” (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 171). If the team must constantly go to upper management for approval on miniscule decision, motivation and the sense to urgency will rapidly decline. Step 3: Get the Vision Right The newly empowered team must create a compelling vision of the organization’s future.

The team shows what change is needed, what should not be changed, and whether certain changes are too dangerous to undertake (Kotter & Cohen, p. 61). The vision must be clear and motivating. Budgets and strategies, although important during change, are not motivating. Vision requires creativity, and shows the end result of where the budgets and strategies will ultimately lead the organization. To obtain commitment to organizational change, employees must be able to identify with the organization’s goals. The must feel involved and important to the organization.

Without loyalty, there is no commitment. Without commitment, organizational effectiveness is reduced. “A committed employee perceives the value and importance of integrating personal and organizational goals” and will be more willing to adapt to change (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 198). Step 4: Communicate for Buy-In At this point, the goal is to get as many people within the organization involved to make the vision a reality (Kotter & Cohen, p. 83). Although some people may be on board, lack of clarity for some people will cause questioning and resistance.

Communicating the need for change can be effective with a Question-and-Answer session if the team is well prepared. The presenter must be answer clearly and honestly, without becoming defensive. The presenter must have faith in the vision. Employees will know when message is not heartfelt. Keep the message simple, using a clear channel, removing unnecessary clutter (Kotter & Cohen, p87, 91), and avoiding communication overload (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 390). Information richness and informational justice are also very important.

Face-to-face interaction is more likely to be well-received than a mass e-mail. When important concepts are being presented to employees, does management take time to explain their decisions? It is important to keep many channels of communication open, not just downward communication, so that employees may follow-up with any questions or concerns they may have throughout the process of change (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 137, 377-380). If Step 3 is done poorly, the vision may lack clarity, leading employees to only endure or reject the change. Step 5: Empower Action

According to Kotter and Cohen, empowerment is not giving power to employees or increasing responsibilities. Instead, it is removing barriers. Sometimes, the boss is the barrier. Some of these bosses have been with the company for a long time and refuse to learn a new style. The “boss barrier” cannot be ignored. It must be removed, perhaps by transferring to another position (p. 101-102). Empowerment also means allowing employees to be creative and take risks, without fear of retribution if they fail. Creativity allows employees to think outside the box.

If, however, mistakes and failure are not tolerated, then the organization should not expect employees to take risks (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 87). Empowerment and autonomy increase self-esteem, leading to increased motivation and self-actualization, as well as increased quality of work life. Empowerment can be created through self-manage teams, allowing these teams to perform certain activities based on decisions made within the group, although some managers are reluctant and fear loss of control and status (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 124, 151, 166).

Step 6: Create Short-Term Wins Allowing empowerment during change creates short-term wins, thereby continuing motivation and focus. Small victories increase faith, and emotionally reward hard work. Criticism decreases, taking the power away from cynics (Kotter & Cohen, p. 123-125). Short-term wins create self-efficacy among employees. Self efficacy is learned, based on past experience and tends to be task specific (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 85). These winds must be as visible to as many people as possible, and they must be meaningful to those people.

Without the short-term wins, large-scale change rarely happens. Step 7: Don’t Let Up After a few short-term wins, momentum builds and direction becomes clearer. Howver, this is not the time declare victory just yet. It is important to keep urgency up. Managers may need to revert to methods used in step 1. Challenges should become more difficult. More power should be given, including time, resources, and access, not simply more authority (Kotter & Cohen, p. 143-145). Persistence is key, as it refers to the staying power of an individual.

Some employees may focus their efforts with a high degree of intensity, but only for a short period of time. These employees need new sources of motivation, new challenges to tackle, in order to stay focused on the large-scale change and avoid burnout (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 121). Without new motivation, highly cohesive groups are also at risk for groupthink, where mental efficiency deteriorates in the interest of group solidarity. These groups begin to think they are invincible, opposition is viewed as weak, and opposing ideas are dismissed.

These employees developed a short-range and self-interested preoccupation with meeting objectives (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, p. 291-292). To keep momentum going, managers can set new goals and keep ideas fresh. Short-term wind can be analyzed for improvement. Outdated and unnecessary tasks should be removed. Self-managed teams may even need to be split up. It is important for management to persevere. Step 8: Make Change Stick Changing the way an organization performs if very difficult, even after short-term wins lead to large-scale change. “Tradition is a powerful force” (Kotter & Cohen, p. 159).

It is much easier to slide back into old, comfortable habits, even when the change has proven successful time and time again. A new, stronger organizational culture must be created, but making it stick is difficult. The guiding team is as important as ever to reinforce behavior. Culture doesn’t change because organizational leaders say so. Culture is created by behavioral norms and shared values among a group of people. This means changing deeply embedded norms (Kotter & Cohen, p. 163-164). As long as there is continuity of behavior and success over a long period of time, new culture can be developed rather easily.

Also, giving the right promotions to people living by the new culture, ensure its success through influence. This leads to a sense of empowerment by these people, causing them to continue the behavior (Kotter & Cohen, p. 171). Conclusion We See, We Feel, We Change The need for change will never end. By following the eight-step process, organizations will continue to successfully change behavior, which will lead to successful transformation. People are sensitive to emotions, not budget analysis. Emotions can support or undermine change, and managers must be careful when creating a sense of urgency.

Employees are sensitive to emotions and find ways to reduce feelings that undermine change, while enhancing feeling that facilitate change. Building the right guiding team and creating the right vision are key when attempting to build the foundation for change. Without the first three steps, the remaining steps are sure to fail. Employees must see the problem in a way that increase emotions that facilitate the need for change. These feelings transform behavior. The new behavior helps the organization effectively move through the eight steps “and leap into a prosperous future (Kotter & Cohen, p. 179).

Cite this The Heart of Change Review

The Heart of Change Review. (2016, Oct 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-heart-of-change-review/

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