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Change Management

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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
LESSON # 28
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SYMBOLIC PROCESSES
Change processes are not always of an overt, formal phenomenon and may also be symbolic in nature.
Symbolic acts and artefacts of an organization and managers help preserve the paradigm, and there exist a
relation ship between organization culture and its strategy. Symbols are objects, events, acts or people
which express more than their intrinsic content. They may be everyday things which are nevertheless
meaningful in the context of a particular situation. It is argued that the creation or manipulation of symbol
has impact, to the extent that changing symbols can reshape beliefs and expectation because meaning
becomes apparent in day to day experience in the organization.
Many of rituals of the organizations are implicitly concerned with effecting or consolidating change. They
are capable of being managed proactively: new rituals can be introduced or old rituals done away with.
Symbolic significance is also embedded in the systems and processes of the organization. Reward system,
information and control system, and the very organizational structures that represent reporting
relationships and often status are also symbolic in nature. For example take the case of selection interview
for organization. A highly formal interview procedure may signal a mechanistic, hierarchical
organization, whereas a more informal dialogue is likely to signal an environment and expectation of
challenge and questioning. If selection processes are changed, different types of managers are appointed,
and visible encouragement to challenge and questioning is given, this can signal within the organization a
commitment to strategic change. In this sense selection processes are symbolic in nature.
Similarly changes in physical aspects of the work environment are powerful symbols of change. Typical
here is the location and change of location for head office, relocation of personnel, changes in dress or
uniform, and alteration to office space or office space
The most powerful symbol of all is the behaviour of change agent themselves, particularly strategic
leaders. Their behaviour, language and the stories associated with them signal very powerfully the need
for change and appropriate behaviour relating to the management of change.
Beside stories, rumours on grapevine the use of language used by change agent also effects change
process. Either consciously or unconsciously change agents may employ language and metaphor to
galvanise change. In this context language is also powerful not only for the communication of facts and
information but because of its symbolic significance and is able to carry several meanings at once.
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Political Processes
One can not escape politics where there is human concern. The reconfiguration of power structure in the
organization is needed which depends on the nature of change. Radical or transformational the type of
change more radical will be the reconfiguration of power structure. The momentum for change will need
powerful advocacy within the organization, typically from the chief executive, members of board, union
and other influential outsiders. Change occurs in organization combining the interest and power of
individual and groups, thereby making the understanding of political context in and around organization
quite essential for achieving change successfully.
Like else where in organization too there is a ruling party (unsaid) and opposition party whether it is a
public or private sector organization. Members of organization perceive to be on either side, and the
nature of nature of opposition varies from the type of industry, sector and size of organization. Similar
concept is of organization elite, trustworthy and loyal people are appointed on key or prime position for
the use of authority and control of resources. Thus change may either means a threat for existing elites or
perpetuation of their rule. Therefore people, rules and resources are manipulated to achieve change related
objectives. The successful change management means involvement in the political activities like building
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
the power or political base, overcoming resistance and achieving compliance for change related policies
and objective. Categorically stating the political activities may include the followings:
i)
to build the political support or power base
ii)
to encourage support or overcome resistance
iii)
to achieve commitment to a strategy or course of action
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