Managing Change


Thesis: Managers of organizations today face a demand for change in their organizations if only because change is so pervasive in the world around them.



A. Widespread felt need.

B. Leadership

C. Trust

D. Resources

1. Funds

2. Expertise

E. Positive organizational history


A. Relative advantage of proposed change

B. Impact on social relationships of a proposed change

C. Magnitude of a proposed change

D. Reversibility

E. Complexity




A. Territory

B. Social Groupings

C. Social Power

D. Resources



Managers are fond of saying that "change is the only constant" in their work. Either we manage change or we are managed by change. Managing change is defined as the planning and organizing of sequence of activities (staff meetings, informal conferences, memos, retreats, etc.), that promote administrative and staff interaction which move towards desirable changes in policies, programs, organizational culture, physical environment, procedures, or relationships. Such change in organizations may lead to more efficient and cost-effective operations, better morale or improved services. This paper will identify assumptions, conditions, and dimensions of this practice that will be of use to managers and consultants interested in making or facilitating change in their organization. Finally, a set of organizational principles will be specified and discussed to provide these consultants and managers with a set of guidelines to aid them in the management of the changes they plan.

Managing Change

Managers of organizations today face a demand for change in their organizations if only because change is so pervasive in the world around them. One assumption often made by managers is that workers resist change. Mogeson, an industrial psychologist, clarified the limitations of this notion by suggesting that workers do not necessarily resist change, but "resist being changed" (Myers 39). Low and middle echelon personnel often have useful ideas about what needs changing in their work place. Unfortunately, they are rarely given the opportunity to suggest or make changes themselves (Patti & Resnick 55). Instead, changes are often "done" to them, leading to a tendency to resist these changes--to resist being changed. If workers were asked more often about what changes they wish, this assumption about resistance may wither away due to the usefulness of their change ideas (Kanter 204).
A second incorrect assumption is that the planning of a change in oneís department or organization can be kept separate from the implementation of that change (Weatherley & Lipsky 283). Managers often assume that the planning of an organizational change is best done by upper echelons of management while implementation of a change is best performed by lower echelons. Many managers have learned the painful lesson that those who implement change, i.e., lower echelons, often have sufficient resistive power to block the best of managementís planned changes. This is especially true if the change does not meet their (perceived) self-interests or if it upsets the work equilibrium they established over years in their work habitat (Weatherly & Lipsky 374). Managers of organizations must learn how to invite workers in the lower reaches of the organization to become partners in the change process. This would mean bringing them in prior to the implementation phase of a change project and involving them as early as possible in the planning phase (Patti & Resnick 56).
The belief that a change process can be managed effectively, regardless of the organizational context of that change, is a third erroneous (Snyder 164-176). For example, an organizationís recent history includes many changes and workers and management are overloaded. Consequently, no matter how important the new change may be to all concerned, they will be reluctant to support it. If there is a climate of fear or distress in the organizationís recent history (or not so recent), change ideas may be met with active resistance or indifference. Such problems in the organization must seriously be considered and efforts made to deal with them directly and openly before a change project is mounted. Change projects that are perfectly sound may be sabotaged because of these past experiences.
These are only some of the assumptions that may affect how managers position themselves as they address organizational change.
Five conditions for change are cast here in ideal terms, knowing that few organizations or