Organizational change is something that cannot be avoided. Sometimes change can come to organizations without any effort in that the conditions for change avail themselves without any human effort. In other cases, the management makes a deliberate effort to engineer change so as to make the organization more productive. There are a number of elements that can provide opportunities for change within organizations. These include power, conflict and coalitions. It is important to point out that these elements can also block change in an organization (Hill& Jones 2001, pp.56-57). How do these elements avail opportunities for change and how can the management use them to the advantage of the organization?
To start with, power has always been, it still is and will always be a potent instrument for change within organizations. It has also been used to block change in the same organizations. Power is the authority to carry out certain actions within an establishment. Thus power brings about change through the actions of the people who occupy the positions of power in organizations (Hofstede 1980, pp.34-35). In the same manner, power can block change by these same people ensuring that they make use of their power to veto any attempt to do things differently within the organization. In order for power to serve as a weapon for change, people who occupy positions of power have to be made to see the sense in doing things differently. Once this has been done, they will then use their power to influence others to do things in the suggested way. Thus once an initiative has been conceived, all that is needed is to sell it to the person in power who will then use the power in his or her office to ensure that the initiative is implemented. This becomes easy if the person in power is the one who has the initiative because all that has to be done in this case is to market the idea to the juniors within the organization so that it is implemented smoothly with as little opposition as possible. Therefore the human resources department in consultation with senior leadership can hire an individual whom they think will bring the desired change and put this individual in a powerful position where he or she can make decisions without much challenge.
Conflicts as Opportunities for Change
Besides the above, conflict is another element that can be very helpful when it comes to implementing change. In moments of conflict, tension builds up and the workers within the organization get prepared for any eventuality. It is during this time that the management can make changes within the organization without experiencing much opposition. Therefore, it is the duty of the management of the organization to know the required changes so as to be ready for opportunities created by conflicts. Conflicts are therefore used to implement change when there is a desired initiative that has been held back for lack of the right moment (Parker 200, p.90). Conflicts can also be utilized for change if the performance of the organization is dwindling. During this time, new models of operation can be introduced as a way of trying to turn the corporation around.
Coalitions as Opportunities for Change
It is clear that teams or groups exist in corporations. These teams are of different sizes and involve various people and departments within the organization. This is one facet of coalitions as they exist in organizations. Coalitions can equally help in implementing change. This is also true for blocking change in that a team of employees can oppose new initiatives and even vote it down in case of a vote on the issue (Hill& Jones 2001,pp.143). The best way to determine whether the identified coalitions are good for the desired change is to monitor the response they give to suggestions of implementing the idea under consideration. Negative feedback means the coalition is ready to kill the change while a nod means that the coalition is good for the change. What can be done if the coalition is against the change?
In the event that the coalition is opposing the desired change, the management can attempt to convince the team leaders of the coalition to support the change. If this fails, breaking down the coalition by such measures as transfers and even firing some people may be used although they are delicate means of dealing with coalitions that stand in the way of change.
It is clear that power, conflict and coalitions can help implement change. The most important thing is that the management of an organization must observe and know how and when these instruments should be utilized for best results.
- Hill, C & Jones, G., 2001. Strategic Management. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
- Hofstede, G., 1980. Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
- Parker, M., 2000. Organizational Culture and Identity. London: Sage