Although change is a part of life and always been an inevitable occurrence in the organisational landscape, arguably over the last twenty years the pace of change has rapidly accelerated. Dealing with this accelerated change is increasing in importance to organisations as highlighted by Kotter (1996. pp. 3-4):
‘By any objective measure, the amount of significant, often traumatic change in organizations has grown tremendously over the past two decades . . . . To date, major change efforts have helped some organizations adapt significantly to shifting conditions, have improved the competitive standing of others, and have positioned a few for a far better future.’
Organisational change is defined by Nelson (2003) as moving from the status quo to a new, desired, configuration to better match the environment; and that it could be viewed as a departure from the norm, or alternatively as normal and simply a natural response to environmental and internal conditions.
It can be attributed to a huge range of factors including but not limited to:
• technological advances (including the communicative technologies arena)
• deregulation, privatisation, mergers or acquisitions
• movement of labour-intensive projects to less expensive locations
• customer and market changes
• social and political pressures
• organizational crises
• major events such as the global financial crisis
Competition between organisations in a global context has become more aggressive than ever as communication and logistics become faster and simpler, ensuring more streamlined transactions for parties across the world. Additionally with economies competing and changing as they are, this can only mean one thing for organisations; they must remain dynamic, malleable and responsive to stay in the game. Hence the reasons why organisations are scrambling to become leaner organisations at the moment- they’re all just trying to stay in the game.
For Human Resources this means being able to support, guide and assist both the management team and the people of the organisation so that they are able to cope effectively and ultimately come to terms with the changes; personally and as an organisation. Despite a vast amount of literature on the subject of change management, Beer and Nohria (2000) argue that a huge 70 per cent of change programs fail due to reasons such as lack of communication and trust, lack of change management skills and resistance to change.
It is strategically essential that organisations get this right.
What sort of change are you facing in your organisation and how are you dealing with it in HR?