Building Positive Employee Relations
Managing HR in Small Entrepreneurial Firms
This final project assignment is associated with the NCF (non-completion failure) grade. Failure to complete this assignment will result in the issuance of a grade of NCF if the course average would result in a failing grade in the course. Students should contact their Academic Counselor or Program Director if they have any questions regarding the NCF grade and its implications.
Communication sometimes fall short when designing and implementing change initiatives, and employees are generally left behind. Organizational change includes individual change. When planning major change initiatives, employers sometimes forget that building a positive employee relationship is critical for motivation since each person must go through this change and implementation for themselves. As leaders involved in plan change, there is plenty of time to get used to the idea because those involved would be part of the whole process and everyone else would follow along.
1. Describe the best method that the management should take to roll out a change management initiative.
2. Analyze what are some of the benefits of involving employees in the organization.
3. Summarize from experience why many organizations have fallen short in the mechanisms of designing and deploying the changes.
4. Explain why organizations create changes without communicating and gaining the support of the employees.
5. Describe what initiative an HR manager would take to communicate the management proposal with the employees.
Positive employee relationship is a key ingredient in creating a satisfied/happy and motivated workforce, retaining top-tier employees, and driving organizational performance. While there are other factors in play, the relationship is anchored primarily on effective communication between employees and their managers or supervisors and involvement in decision making as this makes them feel wanted at the organization, thereby giving them a sense of belonging. However, it is not uncommon for communication to fall short, especially when designing and implementing major change initiatives, which means employees are sometimes left behind. This presents a major hurdle in the change process since organizational change can be impossible without individual change. As such, it is necessary for managers, as change agents, to motivate and encourage the employees to participate in implementing the change by building a positive employee relationship since each person must go through the change process for themselves
Business organizations must constantly evolve in response to the changing needs and emerging challenges, ranging from the emergence of new technologies to the rise of new rivals, changes in legal regulations, and economic trends (Miller, 2020). As such, maintaining competitiveness and profitability in a given industry calls for continuous organizational change which involves taking actions to change the organizations’, vision, culture, underlying technology/infrastructure, mission, corporate hierarchy, and internal processes, with impact at both individual and organization level” (Bejinariu, Jitarel, Sarca & Mocan, 2017). As Miller (2020) further points outs, close to 50% of change initiatives in organizations fail, and this highlights why understanding or identifying an appropriate method for rolling out a given change initiative is of crucial importance in effective change management.
At its core, successful organizational change initiative is rooted in the approach/method used to manage the change. Several models have been set fourth to facilitate and guide organizational change processes, with the common ones being Kotter’s Leading change model, Prosci’s ADKAR model, Kubler-Ross Change Curve (Austin, 2015), and Burke-Litwin model (Bejinariu et al., 2017). Of these models, the ADKAR model is the most effective method for rolling out a change management initiative that requires adequate employee motivation through communication and involvement. According to Hiatt (2006), the ADKAR framework is a model for understanding change at an individual (employee) level, and has five building blocks or principles that increase the likelihood of successful implementation of the change. As shown in figure 1 below (adapted from Austin (2015)), these five principles are Awareness of the need for change; Desire to support and participate in the change process; Knowledge of how to change; Ability to implement required skills and behaviors; and Reinforcement to sustain the change.
Figure 1: the ADKAR Model Showing how a Change Management Initiative Can be Rolled Out Successfully without Leaving Employees Behind.
Unlike other models/methods for managing change implementation, the ADKAR model focuses heavily on changing people in the organization so that they can support the overall change initiative (Calder, 2013). This purpose of the ADKAR model is echoed in Austin (2015), who maintain that the model “focuses the change leader’s attention on identifying stakeholders, [communicating to them about the change], motivating them to support the change and giving them the skills needed to succeed when the change is implemented” (p. 5).
In their review, Obiekwe, Zeb-Obipi, and Ejo-Orusa (2019) define employee involvement as the process by which an organization’s management empowers employees to participate in making managerial decisions and suggesting how activities suitable to their job positions can be improved. This process offers many benefits, not just to the employees, but also to the organization. For one, it creates a sense of belonging among the employees which boosts their motivation, thereby increasing their engagement and satisfaction with the organization (Short, 2017). Employee involvement, as Obiekwe, Zeb-Obipi, and Ejo-Orusa (2019) adds therefore, makes jobs more satisfying and meaningful to the employees, allowing them to demonstrate loyalty and commitment to the organization. Second, involving employees in an organization keeps them engaged in their work, which gives the organization crucial competitive advantages such as increased ability to attract top-tier employees, and higher productivity (Vance, 2006). Employee involvement in decision making also makes employees happier and increases their willingness to stay with the organization (Andriotis), which ultimately reduces the rate of employee turnover and related recruiting, onboarding, and training costs.
Furthermore, when employees are given the discretion to partake in decision making, they see the resulting decisions a their own, and this encourages them to work harder to support the attainment of the decisions’ objectives and goals (Obiekwe, Zeb-Obipi, & Ejo-Orusa, 2019). Lastly, employee involvement creates positive relationships among the employees, engenders a learning environment, and fosters a sense of teamwork through the sharing of opinions, ideas, and issues concerning their work
There is little agreement on the factors or conditions that influence organizational change initiatives because managers and change management experts look at an initiative from their own viewpoints based on personal experiences (Sirkin, Keenan, & Jackson, 2005). However, Levine (2017) and other scholars and researchers link failure of change efforts to an inadequate understanding of the dynamics of organizational change. A successful change process calls for a multi-level approach involving commitment by the top management, continual support from the middle management, and full ownership of the change by the employees. However, many organizations do not have a culture that can motivate employees to support or take part in implementing the change initiative. For instance, the change and its potential benefits and goals are not adequately communicated to the employees despite them being the most affected stakeholders by the change. The outcome is change resistance, which can render the change initiative futile. This observation resonates strongly with Levine’s (2017) argument that major organizational change “requires continual buy-in from the workforce [because] the most important part of any change effort is the “selling” of it” (para 3 line 1).
Organizations also fail to successfully design and deploy change initiatives because they tend to focus heavily on soft factors, such as motivation, communication, culture, and leadership, which leaves the hard factors unaddressed. As Sirkin, Keenan, and Jackson (2005) aptly put it, although soft factors or crucial in the success of change initiatives, managing them alone is not sufficient to deploy change projects because they may not directly influence the outcomes of some change initiatives. This implies that there is need for change managers to equally focus on hard factors including resources (both financial, technological, and human), duration (time required for change implementation), integrity and capabilities of the teams involved, commitment of organizational leaders and change agents, and efforts that the employees should make to cope with the change (Sirkin, Keenan, & Jackson, 2005).
Employees report that they are the most affected by organizational change initiatives regardless of whether the changes involve leadership transitions, regulatory changes, changes in business processes, or mergers and acquisitions. Nonetheless, it has been found that approximately one third of employees have no idea why the changes are implemented (Galbraith, 2018); and this is because the change initiatives and reasons for change are not adequately communicated to the employees. As Galbraith (2018) further reveals, this can negatively affect outcomes of the change initiative because employees are more likely to deny ownership of the change decisions, or even resist the change if they do not understand the reason behind it. So, why do organizations create changes without communicating them to the employees to gain their support? The first reason is the presence of a culture that does not support effective communication with the employees and their involvement in decision-making processes. Second, organizations and change managers have an apprehension of potential employee resistance to the planned change, and thus will be unwilling to inform them of the change until at the implementation stage or until it takes effect.
As aforementioned, change efforts are more likely to fails if employees are not adequately informed of and involved in the change process right from the first stage of planning and decision making. This is because change initiatives are not only trying to evolve an organization’s habits and business processes and approaches, but also convince employees and other key people to change their own behaviors, habits, and approaches (Ricks, 2020). Since effective communication is one of the management skills that play a pivotal role in realizing a successful organizational change, it is necessary for HR managers and other change agents to create a strategic change communication initiative to inform employees about the change, its expected benefits, and their anticipated role in implementing and rolling out the change. Such an initiative is a four-step process/approach that involves: 1) sharing a compelling vision of how the organization and individual employees will benefit from the transition (Galbraith, 2018); 2) telling a story to enable employees to envision where the organization needs to be and how it can transition; 3) inspire and empower to be change agents themselves; and 4) chart the path to show the employees how to get the future that the organization envisions.
Andriotis, N. (2017, December 5). How employee involvement can lead to great business results? eFront Blog. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2017/12/employee-involvement-great- business-results.html
Austin, J. (2015). Leading Effective Change: A Primer for the HR Professional. SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guideline Series. Retrieved September, 13, 2018.
Bejinariu, A. C., Jitarel, A., Sarca, I., & Mocan, A. (2017). Organizational Change Management– Concepts Definitions and Approaches Inventory. In Management Challenges in a Network Economy: Proceedings of the MakeLearn and TIIM International Conference (pp. 321-330).
Boca, G. D. (2013, March). Adkar model VS. quality management change. In International Conference Risk in Contemporary Economy; Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Dunarea de Jos University of Galati: Galati, Romania.
Bourne, M., Neely, A., Mills, J., & Platts, K. (2003). Why some performance measurement initiatives fail: lessons from the change management literature. International Journal of Business Performance Management, 5(2-3), 245-269.
Calder, A. M. (2013). Organizational change: Models for successfully implementing change.
Galbraith, M. (2018). Don‟ t just tell employees organizational changes are coming-Explain why. HBR. org.
Hiatt, J. (2006). ADKAR: a model for change in business, government, and our community. Prosci.
Miller, K. (2020, March 19). 5 critical steps in the change management process. Harvard Business School. Retrieved February 8, 2021, from https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/change-management-process
Short, S. (2020, February 21). Why should I involve my employees in decision- making? face2faceHR. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from https://face2facehr.com/i- involve-employees-decision-making/
Obiekwe, O., Zeb-Obipi, I., & Ejo-Orusa, H. (2019). Employee Involvement in Organizations: Benefits, Challenges and Implications.
Ricks, F. A. (2020, June 26). How to communicate organizational change: 4 steps. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/how- to-communicate-organizational-change
Sirkin, H. L., Keenan, P., & Jackson, A. (2005). The hard side of change management. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change, 99.
Vance, R. J. (2006). Employee engagement and commitment. SHRM foundation, 1-53.