Organisational Change Management Volume 2

20. Faking

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. In the quest for improved efficiency, continuous innovation and other organisational goals, organisations have repeatedly launched programs to strengthen, deepen, widen or harden whatever quality is perceived to be essential to success. Whenever it comes to management issues, organisations stress extremes, ie strong commitment, deep motivation, wide consensus, core values and unquestionable loyalty. Mild is only lukewarm!!!!

. There are several explanations for this

i) high involvement through loyalty and organisational culture is a way of ensuring that workers are not excessively opportunistic, ie selfish, thus reducing the cost of monitoring their behaviour

ii) organisational hierarchies operate by rules and authority which require staff commitment, motivation and identification with an organisation's goals

iii) internal coordination is much easier when everyone shares strong values

iv) sustained co-operative behaviour requires a high degree of consensus about organisational goals and legitimate authority, and strong cultures and identities stabilise such a consensus

v) intense motivation, strong cultures and deep values focus everyone's attention on a narrow range of relevant issues, while providing guidelines for group decision-making. Organisation

"...can reap valuable benefits from high involvement: maximum worker efforts, producing great efficiencies in exporting available resources; autonomous adaptive behaviour, resulting in quick responses to shifts in market demand and other changes in the environment; and mobilisation of individual and collective resources, spurring creative ideas that may give an organisation an edge over its competitors..."

Herve Laroche, 2004

. On other hand, high involvement strategies have many organisational risks. For example, deeply-motivated people can be a challenge for management for the following reasons

i) they tend to interpret organisational purposes in their own way, sometimes substituting their own purposes for organisational objectives without even realizing this

ii) they can display strong resentment when an organisation fails to fulfil the needs or desires they are so imbued with

iii) they are not necessarily easy to get along with as they don't comply with rules or policies that they don't fully approve of

iv) they feel that they should have a say about almost everything

v) they tend to behave as if they are owners of the organisation

vi) they can develop excessive confidence in the face of difficulties so that they are blind to warning signs which can lead to excessive delays in corrective action

vii) they are prone to believe that the end justifies any means, ie this can include unethical behaviour which could jeopardize an entire organisation

. Loyalty and trust are a sound basis for corporate behaviour. Sometimes this can be misplaced so that a resulting clique develops that is antagonistic towards other groups. Furthermore, unquestionable loyalty to a leader can be problematic if he/she leaves or is removed.

. Organisations with strong cultures can exhibit a dual attitude towards change.

"...in some ways, they are remarkably adaptive while in others they can be excessively rigid. A firm may be innovative within its traditional area of expertise but overly conservative when it comes to outside technologies. Many strong cultures are reluctant to learn from other groups; they despise standard or off-the-shelf solutions; and they develop idiosyncratic ways of doing things; they are convinced they are superior to other approaches..."

Herve Laroche, 2004

. Values and identities are important. They help staff make sense of tasks, missions and problems. On the other hand, trouble can occur when staff's interpretations diverge sharply from other stakeholders. Organisations need to have effective mechanisms for keeping control of people once they are deeply committed. Organisations need to keep staff all moving in the same direction.

. Organisations need to deal with the contradictions of high involvement policies. One way is to maintain a careful fuzziness, eg

- motivation should be deep but not attached to anything specific, such as a product, or task, or a leader. Thus motivation can be activated, directed and redirected at will

- identities should provide a full and enduring sense of self but be elusive enough to enable painless change

- culture should be strong but still highly flexible. This explains why many mission statements, the espoused company values and principles appear devoid of meaning.

. Abstraction is the only way to avoid contradiction. On the other hand, abstract platitudes are unlikely to boost an organisation's performance. In fact, most managers do not believe that their organisation's statement of purpose accurately reflects reality or is influential in daily decision-making. As a result, faking becomes a standard mode of operation in these highly involved-organisations. It is a way of handling the contradictions that staff themselves cannot, ie they still want to do the job properly without overtly violating unrealistic requirements or principles. The faking becomes reasonable behaviour

"...by faking, people demonstrate that they acknowledge expected behaviours and requested efforts, and signal to others that they are ready to comply with the rules of the game. But because these guidelines are unclear and are likely to be reinterpreted or modified, managers must be vigilant in anticipating people's reactions to the unexpected. The trouble with subordinates who are truly and deeply involved is that they are likely to react badly to any changes in the rules of the game, such as a reinterpretation or modification of a company's mission..."

Herve Larouche, 2004

Moderation may be better than increased doses of intensity

. There is more than one way to manage staff, ie sticky notes versus superglue

organisational development change management

(source: Herve Laroche, 2004)

 

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