Friday, 16 April 2021

Leadership & Change

Executive Summary

In this study, the change management process adapted by the Manufacturing industry amid the COVID19 pandemic has been investigated and certain recommendations based on my prior experience the report has been proposed. The current pandemic has affected both the organizations and their employees subjecting them to develop strategies to cope up with the challenging environment. The Lewin’s and the ADKAR models have been adapted and presented in this article alongside some recommendations that have been suggested after the identification of certain shortcomings. Lewin’s model proposes a three steps process for organizational change i.e. unfreezing, change and refreeze, each with its own sets of strategies, challenges, and shortcomings for which few recommendations also have been suggested to overcome these challenges.

Introduction

According to Cahill (2020), change especially in the business world is inevitable and the employees and their leaders must be flexible and rapid in adapting to the new predicament.  In this report, the change process in the Manufacturing industry is identified and evaluated. As Marconi (2016) said, the manufacturing industry holds crucial importance in the economy of a country. During the COVID19 pandemic, the manufacturing industry suffered a lot and had to make various changes in its system to survive. This report will cover and analyze all the changes and modifications the manufacturing industry had to adapt to survive through the pandemic. This report will also highlight the role of the various soft skills and qualities and determine the organization’s efficiency in adapting these changes and in the light of this evaluation will also suggest some recommendations to the organization.    

Change process in the manufacturing industry

The change process is the procedure followed by the organization to bring some changes in its policies, rules, technology, or leadership to increase the efficiency and productivity of the company[A1] [A2] . According to Sadeghi (2011), there is a direct relationship between the company’s success and its alignment with the fundamental change strategies of the organization i.e. structure, goals, culture, technology and, human resources. During the COVID19 pandemic, the UAE government had to put restrictions especially for reducing the public interaction at workplaces, educational institutions etc. As per the statement of Gereffi (2020), during the pandemic, the demand for medical supplies had skyrocketed and there was a huge burden on the manufacturing industry to cope up with the rising demands in the challenging environments like increasing production alongside reducing the workforce, the shortage of raw materials, supply chain management issues, etc. To tackle this issue I divided the staff into shift schedules which were quite challenging to adapt and also employed digital platforms for meetings etc. for which I also provided training to bridge the skill or knowledge gaps of the employees.  Manufacturing industries also had to focus on supply chain management and network risk management issues to become more resilient and agile towards disruption[A3] .

Change Process Models

Resistance towards change is natural and when it comes to organizational change management it becomes challenging because of the resistance towards these changes by the employees. The change management models help us to predict the possible hurdles and challenges during the implementation of changes (Rothwell et al., 2016). There are various change management models such as the ADKAR model, McKinsey 7s model, Lewin’s Model etc. but Lewin’s Model of the change process is going to be discussed here.

Lewin’s Model

It is an uncomplicated model of change management designed by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s (Burnes, 2020). It consists of three main steps i.e. Unfreezing, Change, and refreeze, as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Lewin's Model of Change Management Process, (Self-made)

Unfreeze

The initial challenging phase of the change management process where the employees are being transitioned from the previous habits towards the latest changes in policies, rules, etc. According to Wang (2020), workplaces are one of the hotspots of the spread of COVID19, and manufacturing companies were subjected to reduce their workforce and change their working hours, response to the government's restrictions. They also increased production sites closer to the areas of demand so to tackle supply chain management issues (Golan, 2020). To overcome the resistance of the employees towards the changes in work schedules they informed their employees about the importance of these changes and made them aware of the mutual benefits.

Change

According to Averch (2018), Resistance to change is as inexorable as time. [A4] Human interaction and effective communication are the key forces in speeding up change and overcoming resistance (Rajan, and Ganesan, 2017). During this phase, the employees begin accepting the new predicaments and habituating with the new environments but due to the over intensiveness of the workload and other changes made amid the COVID19 pandemic the employees might not be able to sustain these changes thus getting exhausted and altogether rejecting it.

Refreeze

This is the phase where the new adaptations become habits and work schedules become routines. Since the modifications adopted amid the current pandemic are too unnatural there is a lot of disparity in the performance of the employees in comparison to the pre-COVID times (Dirani, 2020). Likewise, in my organization, there has been an increase in employees’ absentees and a significant reduction in workers output due to the intensity of the workload.

ADKAR model

ADKAR is a people-centred model. Since the success of the organizational change depends more on the employee's ability and, willingness towards implementation of the change rather than the change itself, this model gives us the five-step effective approach towards successful yet effective change management, as shown in Figure 2 (Karambelkar, 2017). It can be divided into two major zones i.e. enablement zone and the engagement zone, as explained below.

Figure 2: ADKAR Change Management Process, (SELF-Made)

Awareness and desire

These are the initial phases of the enablement zone where employees are being informed, motivated towards the adaptation of the latest changes. (Wilson, 2018) The manufacturing industry though was hit by a huge burden but still, they reacted well towards the new predicaments, developing and implementing the new strategies, designed new work schedules, and made their workers aware of these changes well in time.

Knowledge

A distal part of the enablement zone where the employees are trained and provided with support to be able to adapt to changes more efficiently. During the current pandemic, it was a need of the hour to adopt the digital and online environment and be able to work remotely if necessary (Briciu and Briciu, 2021). My organization was surely aware of these requirements and they did help their employees familiarize themselves with the online world and aided them in bridging up their skill and knowledge gaps.

Ability

Ability is the early phase of the engagement zone. After proper guidance and training the organization should schedule practice sessions for the employees so that any issues and problems in the adaptation and implementation of the new changes be assessed, evaluated, and properly guided (Bakari, 2017). My organization understanding these issues did conduct practice sessions and countered their employs' incapability along with polishing their required skills and bridging their knowledge gaps.

Reinforcement

It is said that Sustaining the change is as important as adapting the change to achieve the desired outcomes (Willis, 2016). Reinforcement is the last step of the engagement zone when the employees are monitored for their efficiency and performance after adapting to the new circumstances. My organization achieved this through encouragement, recognition and, offering incentives to boost the change process otherwise the latest predicaments would surely exhaust the employees and they might reject the new policies.

Recommendations

A slower yet informed and properly guided change is more effective than a sudden imposition of change that often faces resistance, as proposed by Lewin’s model of change management (Galli, 2019). Recognizing these issues the company had to make certain modifications to the model to make the process more effective, sustainable, and efficient.

·         Awareness of the employees' benefits in the implementation of changes is highly important (Zafar, 2014).  It is better for the organization to properly inform their employees about the changes and addressing their employee’s interests in adapting the new solutions and modifications as opposed to the unfreezing phase of Lewin’s model where the employees are not properly informed and guided about the changes.

·         Since sustaining the change is as important as adapting the change to achieve the desired outcomes (Hayes, 2018) any change without proper knowledge and awareness of the desired interest will be a burden and the employees will become fed up with the new predicament thereby altogether rejecting it. To prevent this a company should properly aware their employees of the possible outcomes and their interests in the implementation of the changes alongside also addressing the employee's concerns and issues in adapting to the new solutions and circumstances.

·         Adaptation to the changing environments could be quite challenging if not properly guided and, assessed about the shortcomings in the proper implementation of the changes especially when involving certain skills (Stouten, 2018). I suggest that the company should properly monitor their employees, conduct practice sessions and properly guide to bridge their gaps in efficiency and performance.

 Conclusion

In this study, the effect of the current pandemic on the manufacturing sector, and their reaction to the new predicaments has been investigated. The suggested recommendations are based on my prior experience in the manufacturing industry and literature research regarding Lewin's model of change. It is a short but lesser efficient three-step process i.e. unfreezing, change, and refreezing. Out of all these three phases the unfreezing is the most critical yet challenging phase where the leadership or the company can be subjected to a big resistance from the employees towards the implementation of the changes because of the lack of proper guidance, awareness, and knowledge. On the other hand, ADKAR presents a proper comprehensive model of change management, comprising of five steps i.e., reinforcement, adapt, knowledge, desire and, awareness. This model proposes that the employees should be made aware of the changes and their interests along with conducting training and encourage them for the sustainable and efficient change process.


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