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Over the recent years, the world of business, as well as other spheres, has undergone considerable changes predetermined mostly by such factors as the globalization, technological development, extension of the market, and alteration of the customer demands and preferences. However, change cannot be considered separately from the environment, in which it occurs. Hence, is necessary to analyze the sphere of its implementation attentively in order to define the positive and negative consequences of any changes. With regard to the variety of peculiar practices that can exist in business and a great number of aims of the changes and their possible consequences for the work, it is important to understand what factors can provide these reforms to positive consequences. The aim of this paper is to analyze the critical factors that can ensure the success of any innovations. In particular, it will refer communication as an effective management practice that can be applied to any organization and should be considered as an effective emotional, managerial, and organizational approach.
Critical Success Factors
A proper change management is a basic approach aimed to support the “business functions of any enterprise” (Yarberry 2007, p.80). While any transitions are difficult and demand serious control and planning of the most effective methods that can be applied in the work process and employees of organizations, they are the timely issues for the managers or those, who are anyhow interested in ensuring appropriate functioning of all processes in the changed conditions. Even though the change management seems to be a self-defining concept, it is not so. To provide the proper understanding of the appropriate factors, it is necessary to several possible types of transformations and changes. Among such, one can find the transformation to simpler or cheaper products, replacement of the old products with the new ones and efficiency innovations (Malone & Mouritsen 2014, p. 10). In fact, all three types should remain efficient and provide success to the organization.
According to Creasey and Taylor (2014), there are several factors that can lead management changes to the successful result. One of them is an active sponsorship; it is one of the most important factors of the change management success. The active sponsorship means providing help in motivating and leading other people, being attentiveness to the changes and their support, developing effective decision-making, building direct communication among the teams of change management and project management. Therefore, the main goal of a sponsor is to develop a strong sponsorship coalition, engage and take an active part in a project, and have direct communication with employees. According to the statistical data, projects with the support of sponsors are more effective than those without it (Creasey & Taylor 2014).
Another factor is an engagement or integration with the project management. This factor presupposes ensuring that the change management and project teams have a sufficient level of skills, knowledge, and competence, as well as general support from both the teams and coaching at often and regular meetings (Creasey & Taylor 2014). The next issue is the change management structuring, which means that the use of an established structure and methodology is a great contributor to the success management. It has a huge influence on the level of the management effectiveness because the use of methodology and structure helps develop logical stages, define a role and tools of the change management, understand all processes, and detect mistakes (Creasey & Taylor 2014). Moreover, the engagement of employees and their participation are important for the successful management, in general. This aspect is a key contribution to success. It is important to make the staff aware of the need for changes. In general, this point demands a close cooperation and desire to take part in implementing the developed changes together with the others. In his work, Jurkscheit (2014), who has focused on the change management in the IT environment, also emphasizes the idea that effective HR management is the basic step to effective changes. Hence, the eight-step Kotter’s model and focus on the employees are appropriate to all spheres (Jurkscheit 2014). In such a manner, it is critical to developing appropriate tactics or strategy of employees’ engagement in the new project.
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The communication about changes, which means a frequent communication among employees, use of effective channels, timely delivery of the change messages, and open communication process between managers and employees often become critical factors in the change management. Such feedback will increase the level of the change management success concerning several points. The last aspect is an engagement of the middle management and its support. This factor helps to develop positive interactions with employees, ensure managers’ and employees’ support, and improves skills and competencies (Creasey & Taylor 2014, p. 13).
Except these factors, the role of a manager and his or her ability to deal with the changes is crucial. First of all, it is important to the manager to show a public support of the changes, which are advocated by an organization (SHRM, 2008, p.6). In general, the success of the change implementation, as well as its effectiveness or failure, depends on the chosen strategy. Essers, Bohm, and Contu (2009, p. 130) referred to Zizek Lacan’s ideological and ethical approach in order to show how changes are dependent on the chosen approach. One can refer to the change strategies and communication tactics used by Robespierre with the aim to create a strong interconnection between ideological mechanisms and implementation of changes (Essers et al. 2009).
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Another significant step is providing support to changes. It is important to realize what kind of support it is possible to get, choose a strategy that will help implement changes, understand who will guide all the changes, and expect possible resistance. Moreover, it is essential to provide people with the vision of the future changes in order to let them realize the results and consequences, create a plan for getting needed outcomes, put changes into reality, and learn from them. Such a stand will be extremely helpful. For this reason, any leader, who has decided to bring success to the company by means of changes, must understand any possible reactions of employees. First of all, it is the shock. People can feel completely unsafe as if they are threatened by something that they are not unable to resist (SHRM, 2008, p.6). According to the post-change reaction in the Children’s Society, “uncertainty, fluidity, and distortion” are the primary ways to react (Wakeling 2004, p. 116). Usually, the next step is the rejection. The reason is that some people are trying not to lose their previous life, so they are meeting new events with anger and conflict. The further stage is the acknowledgment. At this stage, when people are usually not feeling an urge to deny changes anymore. They are ready to realize a situation and consider all positive and negative sides of it. The last stage is the acceptance. If a manager provides all changes as slowly and gently as possible, most people will adapt to the new conditions and will let go the old situation, as well as associated anger and confusion (SHRM, 2008, p.7).
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In their work, Almeidaa, Domingues, and Sampaio (2014) developed approximately the same positions. They have put emphasize on such critical success factors as the stability of human resources, top management participation, and availability of financial resources, as well as engagement and motivation of the employees. According to the above-mentioned scholars, these factors are of primary importance to the change management success. However, authors also highlighted the secondary issues that have some influence on the positive result of change. They include a clear definition of the goals, learning spirit in the team, persistence, meeting the deadlines of a project, and objective attitude (Almeidaa et al. 2014, p. 348). In addition, it is possible to add to this list, a client satisfaction and high level of service quality, which are playing a huge role in the attainment of positive results, because, without the client satisfaction, all changes will not matter (Almeidaa et al. 2014, p. 348).
Values and culture of an organization are also very important. During the changes, exactly these factors are supporting the teams and departments and demonstrate the readiness of an organization and its employees to take risks. Information about the market demands and forces has even a greater influence on the change management. This issue provides an understanding, to which consequences the changes will lead an organization in relation to other market players and their performance (Kash et al. 2014, p. 74). In addition, the records of management can become a key tool for the changes implementation. In The Children Society, the change management is a good example of how efficient governance, ability to access personal cases and provide the regular recording of the achievements is effective to making the changes successful (Wakeling 2004, p. 121).
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All these factors are quite common for the change success. Therefore, it is important to understand that, despite the area, in which changes are taking place, the positive result will depend on the same success issues. For example, Sutanto, Kankanhalli, Tay, Raman, and Tan (2009) were studying critical success factors for the change management in interorganizational systems. They arrived with aspects quite similar to the one, mentioned before: the realization of need for changes, similar vision of the future changes, development of a structured plan and systematic change management project, support of the top management and resources for the future changes (Sutanto et al. 2009, p. 137). Therefore, it does not matter what area is changing. The result will depend only on the managers’ understanding of the main factors of the change success. Thus, the key elements of the positive results are common for most spheres.
The Role of Effective Communication
As mentioned above, the communication factor is really important for the organizations’ change management. Resistance to changes and new conditions is a natural reaction, and managers have to deal with it. Employees are usually developing strong resistance because of the unknown consequences. It means that exactly the lack of information and communication with top managers creates a negative and unsure emotional status. Therefore, communication is an extremely important factor in these changes, because it can increase the feeling of mastery and decrease the public anxiety.
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Thus, the main goal of the communication is to decrease the insecurity at work among employees. Bull and Brown (2012, p. 135) pointed out that the choice of communication methods is closely dependent on the satisfaction level of the workers. Based on the practical study, the research provides a number of evidence of why communication makes workers feel better, safer, and even more valued at their workplaces (Bull & Brown 2012, p. 145). Effective communication also allows decreasing the emotional insecurity, which is a considerable negative factor for employees. Hence, openness, readiness for changes, and their acceptance are the closely interconnected stages of the change acceptance, which is predetermined by the communication. The disability to provide people with inferior or sufficient information can lead to extremely adverse outcomes and cause negative attitude toward the changes. Therefore, in the change process, it is crucial to develop effective communication and information strategies that will lead the organization to success (Christensen 2014, p. 360).
However, the communication process is quite difficult. There can be several levels of communication. One of the most important is the interpersonal level, because it creates a basis for the effective communication process. In turn, it has two main tools to be considered. One of them is active listening. It means understanding all kinds of communication elements, including movements, posture, body language, and face expression that can influence the positive attitude and productivity of employees. Another aspect is a mindful communication, which means the ability to recognize information or behavior from different sides and perspectives. Understanding the communication process can help increase its effectiveness and productivity in the employees. Therefore, effective communication ensures successful change (SHRM, 2008, p.5).
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It is critical to realize what issues can make the communication effective. Since the previous decades, not many strategies have changed. Mary Young and James E. Post (1993) described several aspects of effective communication. All these aspects deserve particular attention as far as this work was written in the period of numerous changes. One of the aspects is the right standpoint of the top managers in the communication process. It means that the behavior and attitude of the top managers in the communication process have a huge influence on the employees and their effectiveness. Managers have to take a wise and skilled position and make a positive influence with own attitude on the communication efficiency level. Another aspect is managerial actions. It is the next significant factor of effective communication because any actions of the managers have to follow their intentions and goals. Otherwise, it is very easy to lose the trust of own employees. The next factor is a two-sided communication, which is extremely important because exactly the same dialogue ensures a high-level and effective communication. Dialogue is an exchange of information between people; thus, it is also a good way to discuss a number of issues critically. For effective communication, it is crucial to have face-to-face meetings, because this kind of communication between employees and top management is extremely beneficial. This method plays an especially huge role during the change process, because the feedback from the employees is higher on several points, than results from the distance communication. Moreover, it is very important to provide a common responsibility for the communication process. During changes, shared responsibility ensures a more effective communication than in the case of the centralized one. Each manager has to identify and deal with communication problems, and then to solve them by involving the participation of employees. Another important aspect is the right attitude toward bad news because it has a huge effect on the communication effectiveness, the way how top managers receive bad news and share them with the organization are critical to the success of changes (Young & Post 1993, p. 34).
Moreover, in order to get a high level of the communication effectiveness, it is important to develop and present a communication strategy for employees. The creation of such a strategy is critical to the success results. It is critical to understand that it is necessary to report not only the data about changes that happen but also to explain the reasons and the process to get a positive result with using this strategy. Employees must realize the background of the top manager’s decisions and see possible consequences. Another valuable factor for the successful communication strategy is timeliness. For managers, it is critical to communicate about what and when they will get to know. Otherwise, the only reaction they receive in the end is anger, dissatisfaction, and loss of trust. The next issue is continuous communication, especially during the crisis or changes. In this case, even if there are some mistakes, the reaction will be more forgiving. It is important not to tell people how they should feel about the changes. According to the statistical data, in most cases, such attitude causes negative consequences and leads to the failure of managers (Young & Post 1993, p. 40).
As it was mentioned before, effective communication has a huge influence on the organization`s success, because it is of utmost importance for the productivity and employees engagement in the implementation of changes. Thus, managers are promoters of the organizational communication, and their main goal is to improve relationships between the top management and the employees. For effective communication, it is critical to engage employees in dialogue, explain and discuss all positive and negative sides, use a top-down communication way, and personalize communication. Effective cooperation and discussions can bring only benefits to the organization. The manager’s role in the communication process includes creating a clear communication plan, providing people with the opportunity to take part in the changes, and provide them with the comfortable and effective communication style and way. Effective communication must pass to employees the information about the future decisions, outcomes, and benefits, as well as progress, nature of changes, and a common vision for the future changes. This strategy will help not only keep people well-informed but also decrease the influence on the performance and result in a higher level of productivity (SHRM, 2008, 6).
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To sum everything up, a well-planned changed management is the basic contributor and determinant of the future success of a company after the transformation of the production or policies. It is why each leader has to understand that it demands a careful preparation and analysis of the customers’ and employees’ perspectives and viewpoints. Among the critical factors of the change management success, one can point out sufficient resources, sponsorship, and proper structuring, as well as employee’s classification and communication. Out of other elements, effective communication between a manager and employees deserves particular attention as far as it is the most effective mean of exchanging the information and discussing any questionable issues.