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Change and Culture

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Introduction

The scientific management approaches had mostly emphasized on specialization and incurring of high human and organizational costs. The classical theorists had insisted on providing and enforcing rules and regulations, decision making by a central figure, division of labor and job specialization. Job specialization based its reasoning from the theory that repetitiveness will lead to efficiency. This theory was later challenged for lack of job challenges and the routine job which meant that workers were not as productive. This led to the creation of another theory that suggested designing a program with job motivation and job enrichment strategies that led to creating a personal incentive and emphasize on job satisfaction as a way of improving management style (Parket et.al, 2001).

Change in organization has been thought to be inevitable and the only way to guarantee future survival of any organization. Culture has been thought as the way things are done within a given setting and refers to norms, beliefs, values and attitudes which play a part in determining how individuals or a group in an organization behaves. Culture include such factors as the relationship between the organization and its customers, suppliers, type and level of collaborative decision making, the pace and steps followed in making decisions, level of controls and formality, risk tolerance, rewarding performance to mention but a few.

According to Ramirez, (1994) organizational change is the wide range alteration, accumulation and or elimination of official, designed or supported service constituent as well as its associated credentials. It has been suggested that the concept does not include smaller changes but rather wide-range changes which include changes in mission adoption of new technology, mergers, right sizing, re-engineering, redesigning,  acquisitions, major collaboration, adoption of new programs for instance total quality management, re-engineering. This article will explain redesigning process as well as the performance expectations to be considered in the design. The article will also discuss the steps that should be followed in making an organization a learning organization.

Job Redesigning

Job redesigning is the process of restructuring and changing the job to make it more interesting to the worker. It involves motivating the worker by modifying the core job dimensions. The redesigning may be through job enlargement which entails addition of more tasks to the existing job to enhance variety, job rotation which constitutes mechanism that allows employees to do different jobs to add variety and reduce boredom, job enrichment which include making jobs more meaningful, challenging and more interesting, job engineering which is maximizing efficiency via time and motion studies and man-machine interfaces, goal setting which is using objectives or incentives to structure jobs. Job enrichment is allowed for by providing an opportunity for the employees to see their jobs as satisfying, exciting and stimulating. Additionally, when all these are done socio-technical part is equally important as it makes the employees responsible for the job as well as balancing the social and technical aspects of the job. The implementation is in three steps. The first step is to find out from the employees what is dissatisfying about their jobs preferably through a survey (Slocum, 1981). The next step is to identify the job enrichment options that should be provided to create a balance between the technical operational requirements and the individual workers job satisfaction (Hackman and Oldham, 1980). The third step is the designing and communicating the program to the workers and later ensuring that the program is constantly evaluated. The worker is supposed to feel individually responsible for the job that he is doing and for its success or failure.

The job should basically has a special meaning to the employee through; task identity where by an individual employees is allowed responsibility for the whole process in a task, and not just one process; or task variety where the worker will be involved in and is expected to use several skills to perform the task; and task significance which refers to the fact that the task being performed is important to the organization. There should be feedback in the organization communicating what has been achieved.

There are five implementation concepts in improving the core job dimensions. The first concept involves combining of tasks which are done by one individual. This increases the skill variety and employee satisfaction as the individual is performing several tasks and can identify him/herself by this task. The second concept is the division of jobs into logical groupings and apportioning a part of it to an individual worker, and thus creating a feeling of ownership of a job by this worker. Establishing client’s relationship is the next concept where the worker is given the responsibility to be the link between the client and the organization and thus is in a direct relationship with the client. This concept satisfies several job dimensions, increased feedback through direct praise or criticism, skills variety is enhanced by the need to learn the skills necessary to retain a client and the technical skill that is already required for the job. The fourth concept is the vertical loading which involves providing the worker with the freedom to control the whens and hows for their entire jobs and allows for the individual worker to design their work methods. The fifth and last concept is the opening of feedback channels which means diverting from feedback through a supervisor to job-provided feedback. The workers have a sense of being in control since the effectiveness of what they do is given instantly. 

Effective and quality communication to the correct people will be important as it will contribute towards the success or failure of the redesign (Ramirez, 1994). This includes communicating and coordinating with all whose jobs will be affected and to include the management and employees. The communication messages should emphasize on the belief on continuous growth, continuous learning and need fro improvement. The first and effective communication is setting the examples. In most cases, change is challenged by those who would want the status quo. It is therefore important to be ready for any resistance. This is to be done by taking into consideration people’s attitudes and characters. Appointing a change agent is advised. The change agent should be fully committed and in understanding of the new redesigned program.  Effective communication will include receiving and giving feedback which should be both negative and positive.

The Learning Organization

Peter Senge (2006) defines a learning organization as one where the workers are continuously developing their skills and abilities to their full satisfaction, and one where innovations and new way of thinking is encouraged, and where the workers are all working together as a team towards the same whole. Organizations are hence required to tap the workers commitment and their willingness to learn. In his article The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the Learning Organization. Senge outlines five disciplines that will help in achieving this type of learning.

The conceptual cornerstone of the learning organization approach is the systematic thinking. Systematic thinking is the first discipline which integrates the other disciplines. It means creating systems that work and changing those that do not work. This principle emphasizes on seeing the organization as part of a whole. The next discipline is the personal mastery which is emphasizes on the individual deepening their individual vision. The individual’s vision will be an important contributor in the organization’s learning. The organization cannot learn if the individuals do not learn. Thus the desire to continuously learn should be encouraged as it will in future be of importance to the organization. Mental model is the other discipline that Senge identifies as a discipline to make an organization a learning organization. He defines mental models are the “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” The mental models influence the way workers will view and act on a situation. The workers will therefore need to learn new skills and learn to change their views. Mental models are what define ones reaction on an issue. Building shared visions means that all workers share the same original vision of the organization with the leader or the founder. It involves sharing the same mental picture visions. These visions are shared through enthusiastic and clear commitment by the leaders. This clear shared vision will lead to the workers willingness to learn learnt from a willingness to learn and offers direction and reasons for existing. Team learning is essential for the workers have to work together. An organization can only establish itself and develop through open dialogue and respectable communication between all members. Team learning relies heavily on the mastery mental models and building shared visions and proper communication between the workers and everyone who is involved in the task. Senge says that a combination of dialogue and systems thinking are very important for organizational learning.

The role of a leader is very important in developing a learning organization. Senge says that it all depends on the leaders in building organizations, and it is therefore their responsibility to be the first to learn so as to inspire the others. For this role, Senge describes a leader as a designer whose work is to design policies, strategies and systems; as a steward whose work is to build and manage the organization on behalf of others; and as a teacher, who is supposed to cultivate the learning process.  

Conclusion

Though the more modern management methods have not been in use for long, they are applicable in the modern world. The job redesign emphasizes on employee empowerment and motivating. The possible advantages after implementation include low absenteeism, motivated workers meaning high quality performance and job satisfaction. Mangers should shift to job redesigning by creating a climate within their organizations that will aid in implementation.

This will put such organization at a better place in this competitive world of business where change has been deemed inevitable.

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