Managing Love And Hate

Managing Love And Hate

Change is a word with which we humans have experienced a love-hate relationship during different stages of our lives. On occasions, we have welcomed change, at times, we have been indifferent to change, and, at some point in time, disliked or even hated change. Our relationship with change as individuals has therefore remained unpredictable. Also, the change that we so looked forward to was in fact viewed with dismay later, when we actually understood the implications or consequences that it brought in its wake. The one thing that we know for sure is that change is inevitable.


Change is definitely all pervasive in the world of business, and, is hence embedded in everyone’s work experience. There is no escape. The acronym VUCA is in itself as much a harbinger of change as it can be. If the world in itself has become volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, then you will live in a state of flux,  and therefore change. An organisation thus finds that it will have to adapt if it has to survive. Changes that an organisation will face can be several and varied. There are organisations that seem to be successful in swimming through the tides of change, and others, who finally get there, and still others, who drown at some point. Whether the organisation will sink or swim depends on a multitude of factors. An organisation and organisational change are all about people. At the end of the day, an organisation is about its people and culture. An organisational change does not happen in an abstract manner, and, when we refer to the organisation, we refer to the people within.


Change is

  • Inevitable
  • All pervasive
  • Embedded in everyone’s work experience


Identifying the change


The first question of course is whether an organisation is successful in identifying the changes that are coming its way. Is the leadership able to forecast advance changes in economic factors, market needs and sentiments, and consumer behaviour that will lead to disruptions in the organisation’s business? Are there disruptors coming from any other direction? Maybe, there are disruptions that are already in the market which can have a rippling effect on the business in unforeseen ways. Technology, for instance, brings in something new every day, and the astonishing rate of change means it has far reaching consequences for business. Nobody really saw the oft repeated examples of Amazon, Uber and Airbnb, and what it did to organised retail, the way we commute, and the way we book accommodation. Some are old and well established today, and some have been able to spread rapidly worldwide, and are now on the brink of stabilising themselves. However, we have seen many of the following disappear, shrink or reduce – bookshops, black and yellow taxi cabs, hotels/guesthouses. So, here are examples of whole industries that have been disrupted. However, when such a change comes along the important question is what did the organisation then do to sink, swim or emerge victorious?

















Responding to change


When the survival of a business is dependent on its ability to effectively respond to change, being unresponsive does not remain a choice. Sometimes, companies struggle to meet external market forces. What is needed at that time is innovation and great leadership to meet such changes. The ability to foresee change, identify it before it overwhelms the organisation, then take the required steps to move the company forward is the sign of a great leadership team at the helm of affairs, who can be trusted to successfully guide the company through choppy waters. Then, there are changes that come from within an organisation. Leadership changes, changes in the way of doing something, processes etc. You also have the big ticket changes due to market consolidations of being merged with another organisation, or acquired by another organisation. This apart from the obvious market impact will result in major changes for the workforce. Let us think of some of the changes that come to mind in a merger or acquisition. Most of them are obvious – changes in leadership, organisation structure and hierarchy, culture of the organisation, the direction of the business, consolidation of business units and functions, redundancies, job insecurity, resistance to change, talent drainage, low motivation, and, an overall stress to the system.


In Quotes “The ability to foresee change, identify it before it overwhelms the organisation, then take the required steps to move the company forward is the sign of a great leadership team..


Change management is in itself an area of expertise. There is sufficient data to indicate how mergers and acquisitions have failed due to poor handling of change management. To ensure success, there has to be an effective communication strategy in place. A lot of problems encountered during any change in an organisation is usually due to a lack of adequate, timely, and effective communication. Communication has to clearly indicate the purpose of the change, and, how it impacts the individual. For an employee ultimately, the question, what’s in it for me must be answered - what happens to his or her role, compensation and benefits, who will become the new boss, who will be the new leadership team – and clarity will be sought regarding this. Will there be policies and processes that will change and have a material impact on the way of working? If there is a feeling of comfort with existing routines and habits, there will be a resistance to change.


However, as long as things are unclear to a person, he/she is bound to feel discomfort. Discomfort implies that the focus will be more on seeking clarity rather than focusing on making the change work. The questions that really bother them will get in their way of effective working. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively at the earliest possible is always the best. Leadership is definitely related to change. Given the sheer pace at which change is happening, having an effective leader is vital. During the earlier days of long planning cycles, leaders had the luxury of time. Now, decisions have to be taken far more swiftly. So, the ability to digest data and information being lobbed at you, and, look at the big picture which is far more complex than before, and, take the correct decision calls for a very able leader. An excellent leader not only is a great change manager himself/herself but he/she can also create change for the better.


The impact of change


Leadership changes can also have a very big impact on the organisation. There are any number of scenarios possible. You often have new leaders, who, without understanding the organisation, will initiate changes which may not be beneficial to the organisation in the long run. Nowadays, with the pressure of trying to showcase something, the need for fast action may in itself be fatal. Also, if the values of the new leader are not in line with the culture of the organisation, it can create a huge stress to the system. However, if the culture of the organisation has negative factors, and the leader is trying to change the same in a positive way, that can only be for the better. For example, if an organisation is known to be unresponsive, and the leader is able to change the company into one which is responsive, then this of course is going to reap rewards for it. Ultimately, navigating change will be a tricky affair in any aspect of life. When it is about an organisation, the sheer scale and complexity required to initiate and execute a transformation is a journey of its own. Once the change objective is clear in the minds of those who are at the helm of leading the change, it is then a project that needs to be well managed.


In Quotes “Navigating change will be a tricky affair in any aspect of life. When it is about an organisation, the sheer scale and complexity required to initiate and execute a transformation is a journey of its own.”

Arpita Kuila is Head HR, NEC Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.


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