Organizational Change Demands Employee Commitment and Support

Change is an inevitable process in every sphere of life and without doubt organizational change is not exclusive but it is an important and inevitable essential to the business world because without change it will be difficult to meet the demands of the changing customer needs, competitive advantages and eventually to remain in business.

Adopting and carrying out business activities just as it was done a decade or two decades ago would mean reluctance and failure to recognize the why’s of change and provide solutions.

What is Organizational Change?
In order to understand this concept, the organization has to be ready for change. Leigh Richards wrote “why things are done a certain way and look for new ways to get things done faster, better and with higher levels of quality and service?”

When an organization realizes that things have to be done differently, then the urge to pursue the envisioned change begins to develop. Hence, organizational change is the movement of an organization from one state of affairs to another.

Theory vs. Models of Change
The two terms are sometimes interchangeable however, theory refers to abstract contemplation or insight and prominent in the field of science. On the other hand models refer to a set of plans and/or procedures especially in areas of business or psychology.

Change is something that can be developed not only at the project initiation level but also it can be evolved retrospectively. In every change the common denominators are:
• Long term goal
• Program activities
• Outcomes
Theory of change refers to long term goals through establishment of project or program activities, the process of achieving outcomes and using the outcome of one process as a pre-requisite for another.

The essential characteristic of a change is the ability to demonstrate progress on the achievement of outcomes through measured indices. In other words it should be measurable.

Models of Organizational Change
Each approach and model of change represents a different ideology with its own assumptions about the nature of human beings and social organizations. A change is to consider readiness of people to accept change easily and give consideration to fairly rigid people or identities.

Development of a model or the need to have a model in place is required in order to enjoy the following benefits:
• It helps to access change at the level at which many institutional leaders view their organizations.
• It can help reveal the areas where a change is required and why the change is inevitable.
• It helps to answer the question of how the changes will occur such as the stages, scales and timing.
• Above all, it helps to identify the contents of change, outcomes, results and measuring indices.

The effectiveness and success of the model depends on the capacity of the people to welcome change and manage them. Any change should be commensurate with the ability of the employees to deliver. In other words, employee’s strength in areas of skill development, support, motivation and education is required. Another factor to consider is the ideology as it relates to the nature of reality and people.

Types of Organizational Change
There are different types and forms of change and these can be grouped under varied categories of change typology. Van De Ven and Poole identified six categories as follows:
• Life cycle (based on psychology and human elements of change)
• Evolutionary and adaptive (synonymous to environmental theories)
• Dialectical
• Teleological (scientific management and planned changes)
• Social – cognition
• Cultural approaches

According to another study by Nordvall’s synthesis (1982) there are eight models within teleological, dialectical and evolutionary with the following as examples: problem solving, action research, organizational development, political models, social interaction, system theory and adaptive models.

What is needed for a Change?
A change without the commitment of a reliable workforce will be as effective as not affecting a change plan at all. Therefore, there are three components necessary to build and manage a truly committed workforce.
• There is a need to attract qualified employees.
• The willingness and ability to develop those employees over time with no conditions attached.
• An attempt to build a bond of trust and commitment with those employees.

Causes of Organizational Change
It is not far-fetched to admit that we are living in a changing world, a world with changing technological advancement, economic growth and dynamic customer or stakeholders need. The following reflects some of these causes:

Adoption of new technology to increase productivity, service or the way of communication. Training on the use of these technologies and application of technology will change the way business operations are carried out. Take for instance, until recent years, the postal service has been the major means of sending messages however, with the advent of computer and email delivering systems, the postal service is now faced with challenges of change to adapt and accommodate new technology.

Business exists not only for the sake of projected profits but also to meet customer’s requirements. These days, customer’s expectations are constantly growing with challenging customer needs. In order to survive in the competitive market a change might be imminent to provide customer satisfaction.

Booming or buoyant market economy: At the time when the country is experiencing a boom it is reflected on the law of demand and supply. As a result there can be pressure on the organization to produce more products or services thus resulting to positive impact. On the contrary, the same is true when the economy experiences a recession thereby, an organization may be forced to make structural changes to survive in business.

In such scenarios when an organization enjoy or benefit from good times and faced with a decision for growth. Changes in their policy to allow employees acquire new skills through training and exploration and new opportunities at the organization’s expense either wholly or partially may be affected.

Other causes can include but not limited to poor performance, challenging the status quo e.t.c.

Employee Commitment to change
Employees are supposed to abide by the organizational rules and policies including the need for a change. The fact that an employee performs a task or abides by the rules does not necessarily translate to commitment. For an organization to achieve the desired results on their proposed changes an employee commitment is desired.

Under normal circumstances, it will be expected of an employee to commit to any change but employee’s acceptance to the change is crucial. According to a school of thought on a hypothesis that “People exhibit stronger escalation of commitment when they are personally responsible for the initial decision than when they are not responsible for it” In other words, an employee integration into the project/program should be encouraged.

Other conditions can involve dealing with those employees with a record of long term of service that are reluctant to change as compared to new employees that are more adept to accept change. New employees joining an organization are especially valuable because they can often point to areas of opportunity for improvement that those who have been long involved in the company might have considered insignificant.

One of the most important things the organization should do is to link employee’s goals with that of the organization so that employees can find purpose in their work and a sense of belonging.

What is Commitment?
The relationship between organizational change and employee’s commitment can be described as:
• Cognitive
• Emotional
• Behavioural
Employee commitment can be a positive thing or negative quality depending on a variety of conditions. Many people have attempted to define commitment in different ways but the common denominator is a sense of attachment to the work of an organization.

Based on Meyer, Allen and Herscovitch model and definition, commitment is a force that binds an individual to a target, social or non-social and to a course of action relevant to that target.

John Meyer and Natalie Allen Model of Commitment
Meyer and Allen proposed three component model of commitment which explains that commitment to an organization is a psychological state with three components as follows:
1. Affective component – This deals with affection for your job. This is an emotional attachment you have because you identify with goals and values. Thus you enjoy your work, you have a good feeling and job satisfaction as a sign of your affective commitment.

2. Continuance commitment – This is the form of commitment arising from the fear of loss. After considering the pros and cons of leaving the organization in terms of monetary benefits, professional role, status, level of responsibilities and social interactions with friends and allies.

3. Sense of obligation – Despite personal inconvenience, you feel to remain with the organization because of their investment on you in terms of training or financial benefits.

Benefits from Increased Employee Commitment
It cannot be denied that employee commitment will result in corresponding benefits in many areas. First and foremost, the objectives of the planned or retrospective change will be fulfilled and bring forth the desired outcome which can later act as the basis for future changes.

The organization will also gain from decreased loss of talents by decreased intention to leave and source for alternative employers. Other benefits include, increased job satisfaction, performance and stakeholder’s return on investment.

Employee’s Reluctance to Commitment
Most employees view their commitment as a form of transaction in which the organization has gained and they expect something in return for themselves. Where such mutual benefits are lacking an employee may feel that the organization is not committed to them with reciprocity.

Also, another reason is when you lack the sense that the employer will be there for you when you need the organization’s help, support and/or motivation.

An employee can show a cold shoulder when he/she perceive that the organization viewed and treated him/her as a mere collection of employees or independent contractors rather than as a united cohesive group.

Finally, an employee with a sense of anticipated regret when highly committed will develop and maintain neutral position. According to Zeelenberg (1999), he defined regret as an emotion that we experience when realizing or imagining that our present situation would have been better had we decided differently.

In conclusion, I will leave you with these questions to ponder, Are you committed to your organizational change? Are you willing to commit yourself? As a representative of your organization, have you done enough for your employees in order for them to have a sense of fulfilment, purpose and a sense of oneness? Is there anything you can now do better as from this day forward?


Olajide Ageh