It has always been man’s nature to become the one to be followed. Even the timid have had this urge within them, as history shows. They have always sought any form of power and went through the way by which it was easiest to achieve that power. It is this attractiveness in power that makes man perform acts which he never thought he would ever do. What every person bestowed with power forgets, however, is what power is originally about (Herriot et al., 1998).
Power and organizational culture
When we combine responsibility with the authority to perform that responsibility, we have a mixture called power. This authority to command and make others trust and believe in you is what has made every powerful man in the world greedy for more (Pfeffer, 1994).
The world of organizations, however, is a little different when it comes to practice of power. The flow of information and the communication steps required for an idea to reach the top management is drastically different in every organization. However, it depends on a few variables:
This is the person’s position in the official rule books in the organization. Every person is “supposed” to respect the person with respect to his position in the organization and this forms an official culture. It depends on how the higher ups treat their lower subordinates, as this is how the rest of the bosses will have to treat their subordinates.
This depends on the task at hand. The person most powerful here will be the person closest to the task. The project manager of a project will have the power to veto any ideas given by his team for example, if he wants to.
If a person plays a major role in a key network, for example to pass on an idea to the top management, he will be regarded as being relatively more powerful than the others.
This is a very important characteristic. It shows how much discretion a person is allowed to practice in his decisions. The more it is, the more power the person has.
This is very straightforward. The person seen as most powerful by others, by getting more respect and making employees do whatever he says, holds the torch.
Change and organizational culture
Organizational cultures are very strictly embedded in the roots of the organization. Therefore it makes it very hard to change them (Toole, 1996). So any manager willing to bring about some changes must take a careful approach or he can find himself in big trouble.
Establish a Sense of Urgency
There should be an urgent wake-up call made by the manager pointing out to other managers about how things have been going wrong or in some cases, how they can be even more streamlined to reduce costs and maximize profits.
Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
Now that the manager has opened the eyes of other managers and made them believe that a change should be implemented, he should form a coalition for this very purpose, so that he has some backing for his ideas.
- Create a vision and communicate it
- Now that the manager has become an unofficial leader of the coalition, he must provide strategies of how his proposed change can be implemented and if needed, give out tasks to the members of the coalition.
- Empower others to act on the vision
- Identify the change resistors and act against them by removing them from the path to change.
- Plan and create short term wins
- This is vital to show your coalition that you are gaining success with your efforts will help in motivating them and make them work harder.
- Consolidate improvements and produce more change
As the manager’s change starts to take some shape, he should consolidate all his short term wins and show it as a big picture that the change is actually taking place on a much larger scale. At the same time, he can now divide his power to other trustworthy members from the coalition to make the change process even faster.
Institutionalize new approaches
This is the final step. It makes sure that all future strategies developed and plans made for the company are made using the new change. This will help in embedding the change in the whole structure of the organization.
As seen, organizational culture takes a lot of time to develop and an even longer time to change it. Therefore it is best to try to blend in with the culture until it becomes necessary for any change to be implemented by you as a manager. It is not something which should be avoided, but it isn’t something which should be constantly be taking place either as having a consistent and well evolved culture leads to a satisfied employee and therefore a well performing organization.
- Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change. Harvard Business Press
- Herriot, P., Boonstra, J. and Gravenhorst, K. (1998) Power Dynamics and Organizational Change. Psychology Press
- Pfeffer, J. (1994) Managing with Power. Harvard Business Press
- Toole, J. (1996) Leading Change. Ballentine Books