Organizational change is a challenging endeavour because it affects many structural units and employees. Without adequate change processes, such ventures often fail because of many resisting forces. Therefore, it is imperative to plan the implementation carefully and communicate the ideas to employees correctly. This paper analyses the case of George Boon, the new director of Byfield Business College, whose new transformational ideas were not welcomed by the employees. It provides an outline of the problems encountered by the director, potential long-term and short-term challenges, and proposes solutions for resolving these issues. The main problem Boon is likely to face is the resignation of the current employees that were consistently performing well and kept students satisfied. Employee morale is a critical factor that influences performance outcomes, and the director’s changes had a deteriorating effect on employee contentment.
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Is Change Necessary?
When George Boon got appointed to his new role, he immediately noticed that the operations of the central records office were not coherent with his personal perception of a professional business college. His individual beliefs were the primary determinant behind proposing change. However, he failed to assess the work processes in the central records office and adequately analyse the efficacy of the current structure. This point can be proven by Boon’s reaction to Robert’s formal systems analysis. The report said that the office had been handling a workload beyond the theoretical maximum. These results mean that the current office structure is efficient. Instead of conducting further analysis on how the office was capable of operating beyond its capacity, Boon relies solely on his personal perceptions of the ideal work structure. No surveys were conducted to collect data directly from employees.
Organizational change is about bringing workers to new behaviours that help the enterprise meet its business objectives (Petrou, Demerouti, and Schaufeli, 2018). Among the most critical elements of an influence strategy to implement change is effective communication between employees and managers (Petrou, Demerouti, and Schaufeli, 2018). Change agents, who are usually senior managers, should be able to communicate the objectives of change and potential benefits clearly (Boulding, Guha, and Staelin, 2016). In this context, Boon had to collect opinions from employees, and explain why the change is necessary and what it will bring. The director did hold a meeting during which he outlined the proposed system. However, instead of becoming blinded by his thoughts that everybody agreed with him without arguing, he had to ask questions and encourage open conversation between him and employees.
Implementing changes and managing the change process is failure-prone and may unintentionally cause new problems (Chernova, Mazurkevych, and Chernova, 2018). Before planning any change, managers should assess the level of intensity of resistance to changes in the organization (Chernova, Mazurkevych, and Chernova, 2018). Without having a clear picture of potential challenges and without developing an adequate response plan, the majority of such ventures will fail to succeed (Hechanova, Caringal-Go, and Magsaysay, 2018). Boon’s problem emerged partly because he did not have a risk plan. He was confident that his new system is the most suitable and everyone will be satisfied with it. However, Boon was mistaken, and his new system was not welcomed by the staff.
Concerning the determinants for change, in summary, Boon made several mistakes. First, he failed to carefully assess whether the change was needed indeed or if his motivations were only supported by his personal beliefs. Besides that, Boon had issues communicating with employees and facilitating an open and productive conversation. Another crucial mistake is that Boon did not measure the organizational capacity for change after being appointed to his new role. This capacity is positively associated with higher levels of technological turbulence, or in other words, technological progression (Heckmann, Steger, and Dowling, 2016). Therefore, some organizations are more capable of change, and the director should have a clear understanding of the status of his company before proposing any change (Aziz and Curlee, 2017). In other words, Boon should have analysed whether his new ideas are feasible (Burke, 2017). Instead, he took an authoritarian approach and attempted to force a change. The main short-term consequence of his mistakes is that his new system will fail immediately because the employees will resist it.
Organizational capacity for change is significantly influenced by the employees’ perception of previously experienced changes (Heckmann, Steger, and Dowling, 2016). By inadequately implementing change, Boon might dramatically have deteriorated the organization’s ability for changes in the future. Among the long-term consequences is the impossibility of achieving any change without replacing the whole personnel. In turn, it will potentially lead to additional expenditure and financial losses.
From Mixed Approaches Back to Bureaucracy
During the last several decades, enterprises have started to switch from more rigid vertical organizational structures toward mixed and horizontal approaches (Fransen, Delvaux, Mesquita, and Van Puyenbroeck, 2018). Evidence shows that corporate efficacy is aided by the flexibility and innovativeness of employees (Goodman and Dingli, 2017). Therefore, many organizations started to refuse from strict bureaucratical systems in favour of simpler and horizontal structures of management (Neis, Pereira, and Maccari, 2017). However, Boon’s idea of having a strict separation of job responsibilities and enforcing a rigid structure is contradictory to contemporary efforts of the corporate sector to allow employees to have more freedom, and thus to facilitate to innovativeness. Bureaucratic systems are slowly disappearing from the public sector. Only government and military agencies consistently employ strict vertical structures (Verkuil, 2017).
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Advantages of Bureaucracy
Bureaucratic systems have received a lot of criticism, but it should be noted that they do have certain advantages (Verkuil, 2017). Standardization is a central aspect of a bureaucracy affecting processes, policies, and procedures in such companies. Bureaucratic systems require accountability from each employee – being a pool of rules and regulations, vertical systems often have personnel with higher education and a high level of expertise (Verkuil, 2017). Job security is apparent within such organizations because performance is primarily measured by the quality of abiding by the guidelines instead of output. Relationships within a bureaucratic organization are often impersonal; this aspect may be perceived as unfavourable in the beginning, but it does have its benefits (Katayama, Meagher, and Wait, 2018). Namely, within such an environment, there is no favouritism, and every employee receives equal opportunities (Verkuil, 2017).
Disadvantages of Bureaucracy
Bureaucracies have been mainly criticized for strict policies that pose a hindrance to operations and communication. In turn, these shortcomings lead to several other disadvantages. The bureaucratic organizational structure reduces productivity and innovation because a vast number of policies and procedures attaches an additional level of complexity to roles and responsibilities (Karimi, Abokhamsi, and Saki, 2019). Because of this overhead, employee morale decreases, and workers lose motivation (Pereira-Moliner et al., 2016). Within such circumstances, reward systems play a significant role in motivating the workers. Less autonomy is also a contributing factor to reduced employee morale.
There are many consequences of integrating the bureaucratic structure into an environment with employee freedom and horizontal relationships. In the case of Byfield Business College, employee resignation is the most apparent short-term problem. Unable to cope with the new requirements, and being reluctant to adhere to new rules, the majority of the team may be willing to leave their positions. Boon may not be able to fill the open spots quickly, which will disrupt the college’s processes significantly. However, it is only a short-term problem because the director will eventually find suitable personnel. To avoid this situation altogether, Boon has to either revert to the old system or communicate his ideas adequately and present why the new system will benefit the central records office in the long run.
Boon’s new initiative may be beneficial if it is integrated successfully, but a failure to fully implement the change may result in severe long-term consequences. Because of the added complexity and reduced employee morale, the efficacy of the office will be falling for a substantial amount of time. Many of the courses that rely on the steady operation of the central records office will experience severe difficulties, and the quality of the courses themselves may deteriorate over time, spoiling the image of the college. Therefore, Boon has to consider the future of the college and choose the most effective approach to managing the office instead of pursuing to implement what he perceives to be best. If it is impossible, then a different director with more modern methods should be appointed.
Employee Morale and End-user Satisfaction
Currently, available evidence suggests that there is a strong link between employee morale and organisational performance (Bailey et al., 2017; Raman and Sambamoorthy, 2018). It is also known that in enterprises where employees often interact with end customers, high employee motivation leads to a higher number of satisfied clients (Bakotić, 2016). When designing their system, Boon and his associates did not consider who the eventual customer is. Any new system that is integrated into an organisation should be targeted primarily at enhancing the experiences of end-users (Qi and Wang, 2018). Furthermore, change agents should be careful because corporate restructuring may have a deteriorating effect on worker morale (Chaddha, 2016).
In the case of Byfield Business College, customers are students, and the new system was not accepted favourably by the clients. Previously, they used to receive personalised help and attention from each of the staff, but the new system of Boon deprived the students of this opportunity. Therefore, the director should reconsider his initiative and put customers and employees in the middle. Because the staff of the central records office directly interacts with students, it is imperative to help and motivate them. By boosting their morale, the management will have increased the level of satisfaction of students (Bell and Raj, 2016). That is because empowering employees leads to an increased level of employee performance (Bose, 2018; Patil, Biswas, and Kaur, 2018).
Decreased employee morale will significantly impact student satisfaction and student performance because essential processes will be disrupted. Because the college will continue to receive complaints from students and the central records office will not be able to handle all students because of reduced efficacy, other departments may need to be involved. This situation will place an additional burden on other structural units, which may lead to decreased employee morale in other departments as well. To avoid this situation, Boon needs to revert to the previous system until he thoroughly plans his new initiative or gives up this venture.
Long-term consequences are more severe – because of continuous complaints and degradation in academic performance, the college may spoil its image and lose its popularity. Because a smaller number of students will be interested in enrolling in this educational institution, the college will lose profits. This situation will not please the stakeholders who may consider removing Boon from his position. Therefore, it is in the interest of the director to communicate with the employees and think of a compromise.
There are many disadvantages of a bureaucratic structure, and the majority of organisations today are switching to flat horizontal systems or are incorporating the elements of horizontal structure into their existing hierarchies. Boon’s initiative to make the operation of central records office more rigid and more bureaucratic does not coincide with modern trends. As a result, Boon is about to introduce the same disadvantages of a bureaucratic structure to the college. A decrease in employee morale and student satisfaction are some of the examples. Boon, in summary, has two choices – he may cancel his initiative and bring back the old system or invest more time in communicating his ideas to the subordinates.
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