Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Relationships

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"...one of the distinguishing qualities of successful people who lead in any field is the emphasis they place on personal relationships......the critical resource is access, and so the greatest care is given to creating and mentoring networks of people whom they can call on, work with, and engage in addressing the issue at hand..."

Ronald A. Heifetz et al, 2002

This involves dealing with people who are with you on the issue; managing those who are in opposition; working with those who are uncommitted and wary, ie the people you are trying to move

Connectedness is about relationships. Relationships involve understanding the culture of an organisation. The manifestations of an organisation's culture can be divided into 2 areas: practices and values (Hofstede, 1991). Practices can be divided into 3 categories: symbols, heroes and rituals. Generally, practices are visible; with symbols representing the most superficial element.

- Symbols are words, gestures, pictures or objects that carry a particular meaning and are only recognised by those who share the culture. New symbols can be easily developed and old ones disappear; symbols from one group can be readily copied by another group.

- Heroes are persons, dead or alive, real or imaginary, who possess characteristics which are highly prized in the culture and serve as models for behaviour, eg TV characters.

- Rituals are collective activities that are considered socially essential although they can appear to be meaningless. Examples include ways of greeting, paying respect to others, social ceremonies, etc.

The core of organisational culture is formed by values, and values are the most significant manifestations of culture.

In understanding values, it is important to differentiate between desirable and the desired: how people think the organisation should be vs. what people want for themselves. What distinguishes the desirable from the desired is the norms involved. Norms are the standards of values that exist within a group. In the case of desirable, the norm is absolute, ie indicating it is ethically right. The desirable relates more to ideology, the desired to practical matters.

. More important than critical mass is the myriad of critical connections in relationships. Therefore, activities in one part of the whole can create effects that appear in distant places. Also of vital importance to an organisation is the impact of forces such as culture, values, purpose, ethics, etc. Each of these concepts describes an element of organisational life which can be observed in behaviour yet does not exist independent of these behaviours. What influences these behaviours? For example, creating a purpose (organisational clarity about future purpose and direction) is a way of creating power and influence, ie a visionary message matched by visionary behaviour. The purpose can filter through the entire organisation and have a vital influence on the behaviour of all staff. Thus organisational behaviour is influenced by the "invisible"or conceptual controls. In addition to purpose, culture, values and purpose are conceptual controls.

. Goals mean nothing without an understanding of the network of relationships and the resources that are required to support the work of the person. Hierarchy and defined power are not as important as relationships, ie focal points for interaction

. Organisations needs to think outside the box. They need to go beyond the boxes that have been drawn to describe roles and relationships. A fluid pattern of relationships and internal connectiveness needs to be reflected; a world, not of hierarchies, but of on-going partnerships - a move from chain of command to a web of influence. Roles and structures created from need and interest facilitate relationships which encourage creativity and success. As a result, it is not who or what position will take care of the problem, but rather what energy, skill, influence and wisdom are available to contribute to the solution. Thus an organisation must want to learn and be willing to look at information that challenges its past beliefs and practices. Organisations that want to stay vital must search out surprise - look for what is startling, uncomfortable and may be even shocking. The organisation then needs to support people to reflect on this unsettling or disconcerting information. People are encouraged to look at variations, etc.

 

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