Communication in change implementation: an emergent issue in change management
Organizational change comprises many activities that an organization undertakes with the aim of improving performance. It can be observed that change is a process that combines many activities. These activities are often sidelined by organizational leaders who assume that such activities can be addressed in a passive manner. These activities are discharged in organizational programs that are introduced into the organization. The main objective of organizational change is to improve the organizational functions hence, improving the performance of an organization. Nonetheless, it can be observed that change faces many hindrances (Miller 183). One factor that constraints change in organizations is communication. The communication of change in firms is a complicated process. This is true especially on the part of the organizational members and organizational leadership. The organizational leadership is often charged with the implementation of change. This is considered a concrete issue considering that organizational success highly depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of organizational communication. Notably, change programs in organizations results to lots of reshuffles and rearrangements that can lead to breakage of the normal communication processes used in the organization. When these processes are tampered with, it becomes quite strenuous to attain complete communication. This culminates into failure in the achievement of the overall organizational goals and the main goals underlying the change programs within the organization. Nonetheless, change efforts in firms are highly dependent on communication (Dunton 109-111).
Change and communication
Change cannot be initiated or run in the firm when there is no communication. Change begins with communication, and is supported by communication too. Internal and external communication is used to enhance the adoption of change in firms. Any firm that is undergoing transformation in the current economy requires effective communication that backs up the transformation process. This is what is referred to as strategic communication in modern management practices. Research points to the relevance of effective or strategic communication in the change process within organizations (Lewis, Schmisseur, Stephens and Weir 113-137). Research has indicated that most organizations face difficulties in the attainment of their objectives due to breakdown in communication during the process of implementing change. The change process involves many activities such as organizational learning. These activities purely need communication and that the communication of change in the firm is a complex process. Change may, in many instances, involve activities that go beyond the organization, and this includes cross-organizational communication. This happens in pure business firms, especially during change projects that have an aspect of merger and acquisition or partnership elements. Such activities call for excellent communication techniques on the partof organizational leaders that are directly involved in such deals. They involve the exchange of sensitive organizational information or data as in the signing of working partnership agreements known as contracts (Self and Schraeder 167-182).
It has been noted that change involves all stakeholders of any given organization. On the other hand, communications links stakeholder to one another and to the change initiative of the firm (Dunton 109-111). Change involves influencing of the behaviors and routine working patterns of employees organizational members. This is something that needs strong communication techniques. In large production organizations, the change process has to be communicated to a very wide audience including the customers of the organization. Organizational stakeholders will often react or participate in change depending on the way they understand the change messages that are passed to them by the management of firms. As far as communication is of great importance in organizational change, many research findings are pointing to the fact that communication is the main hindrance in the attainment of change among many organizations. This happens in spite of the argument that strategic communication can help in the full realization of organizational change. Communication still remains a critical issue in the realization of change within firms thereby attracting more research (Clampitt and Berk 1).
Research also reveals that communication is a central pillar for organizational change. However, it is often ignored or taken with little seriousness during the implementation of change. Many theories of organizational change and organizational development only highlight the role of communication in organizational change. They do not explore the essence of communication in organizational change programs. Lapses in communication often results to failure or very minimal achievements of the change objectives. Most of the failure aspects in organizational projects are often blamed on poor or breakdown in communication among organizational stakeholders (Fulk and Boyd 417).
The problem of communicating change in Microsoft Corporation and Apple Incorporated
As mentioned earlier, organizational communication remains to be one of the most important elements of organizational change. It can be noted that communication guides, leads, and streamlines the implementation of change in organizations (Fulk and Boyd 419). Both Microsoft Corporation and Apple Corporation are firms that deal in the production of technical products. They operate in the informational and communication technology industry. This is one of the most explosive industries in terms or the rate and pace of changes. Therefore, these firms are synonymous with organizational change because they often engage in projects and programs meant to invent new technological products that match the emerging communication needs. The technologies that are use in the innovation of new products by these firms are in most cases complicated. Therefore, this is a pointer to the importance of communication in change programs or projects that are being worked on by the firms. Failure of good communication is not good for these companies as this may result to difficulties in the achievement of the firms’ goals. They might easily end up coming up with products that have faults thus jeopardizing the market for these companies. This may also result to these firms being outdone by their competitors in the industry. This will have an adverse effect on the aim and expected outcomes of organizational change (Russ 2).
Change management in these firms involves the employment of managerial communications that utilize technology or automated systems. However, the overall change programs are run and controlled by organizational staffs. Therefore, organizational communications processes thus remain to be of a big impact in the implementation of change programs and processes in these firms. This is in contrast to the argument by a number of people that automated communications highly improve the implementation of change in such firms. The automated systems only improve the feedback process of change implementation. They play no role in the strategizing of change initiatives. This is purely done by leaders of these organizations (Russ 2).
Microsoft Corporation is of the most renowned companies in the world for the production of computer software. The company always keeps itself in the state of research and innovation in order to keep in pace with the competitors in the industry. This helps in the improvement of the existing products and the invention of other new products that support the performance and existence of the company in the market. In its change processes, Microsoft engages in strategic partnerships with many other firms. These partnerships are meant to enhance the production of quality products in the invention projects and programs of the firm. Some of the change agreements that the company has adopted include underpinning contracts, operating level agreements, and service level agreements. This means that well structured and coordinated work relations in projects that are run by the Microsoft Company are critical to its success. This coordination requires organized and effective communication techniques that have to be used by teams that are involved in the projects (Microsoft Corporation 2-12).
As part of change initiatives, Microsoft has been opening its business practices by delegating the provision of some of its services to vendors. Such programs seem to be problematic due to various reasons. These include the lack of full definition of the working relationship between the company and service providers or vendors. It also includes unclear definition of roles to be discharged by the vendors. Others include the failure to enlist the objectives and set clear measures to be utilized for the success of these projects. This does not means that this change initiative is a flaw. It simply points to the fact that proper or complete communication is not factored in the change process and programs of the company. Service vendors can help the company in maximizing its turnover in the market. This will happen if the company clearly defines and communicates the objectives of partnering with the service vendors. The same should be extended to the benefits that are expected and the manner in which they are to be achieved (Microsoft Corporation 2-12).
The Apple Company is also among the most competitive companies in the information and communication telecommunication industry. The company is known for its innovativeness depicted in the production of the most sophisticated telecommunication gadgets. Apple has been known as one of the organizations that have undergone tremendous changes. This was especially under its former chief executive officer, Steve Jobs. It is argued that organizational change is effective when it has the full corporation and involvement of the top executives of a firm. This can easily be said of Steve Jobs who ensured that the organization was intact and focused on innovation. The company has had its fair of problems in the implementation of change. Most of the problems are linked to the lack of effective communication in its innovation processes. The company is faced with many challenges. One of these challenges is the technical problem that was observed in one of their products – the iPods. This problem was highly linked to lapses in the communication process during the manufacture of the products. As a technology company focusing on the manufacture of technological products, Apple also suffers from communication lapses that are inherent in the innovative processes (Govindarajan and Trimble para. 1-4).
How Microsoft and Apple Deal with the problem of communication in organizational change
To ensure that the company is doing well, each of the service agreements that are entered into by Microsoft is strategized and considered as a venture. The top management of the company fully engages in the drafting of all that appertain to the service agreement entered into by the firm. The company leadership documents all operations that will go into a given service agreement and how the agreements are structured. This implies that the top executives of Microsoft draft the entire business communication process entailing change programs to be implemented within the organization. Top executives also lead in the development of the new and innovative projects of the company. For such projects, the company ensures that all resources needed in the development of these projects are availed. These resources include both human and material resources that go into innovation. The availing of all these materials is a motivating factor. This helps in minimizing communication lapses during the implementation of the projects. In addition, aspects of specialization are fully embraces in the company as this helps in maintenance and keeping to standards all the technical elements that are involved in the innovation projects of the organization (Biafore 50).
Microsoft invests a lot of money in the development of change projects. This is critical as it helps in addressing the possible challenges that can lead to breakdown of communication within the process. The company has managed to implement new projects and other change processes that support its current strategic position in the industry with great success. Communication is steered by the management who ensures that they fully strategize on change initiatives to discourage inconsistencies. Technology also plays a big part in enhancing communication during the change process (Microsoft Corporation 2-12).
Apple Company has managed to stay on top of competition. This is because the company embraces a number of communicative aspects in innovation and change management practice of the firm. The company has put significant emphasis on the process that is critical in developing new products and practices within the company. Communication is emphasized during the procurement of resources to be used in the enhancement of new projects. This eliminates communicative flaws that are reflected in faulty resources of the firm. In addition, the firm emphasizes a lot on organizational learning in change management. This helps it in keeping up with the standards in all change initiatives that are implemented by the organization. The leadership of Apple insists on managerial communication in all organizational programs. Managerial communication ensures that all procedures to be used in a given program by the organization are communicated and understood by members responsible for implementation. Managerial communication streamlines the strategies of change in the organization by ensuring that all stipulated steps in the process of change are implemented in the manner in which they were intended. Just like the Microsoft Corporation, Apple Companyhas well structured systems that are utilized in the organizational programs that gear the company to innovations. In essence, both human and mechanical systems are established to ensure that communication remains intact. Through this, change flows in the organization as flaws implementation are easily detected, communicated, and corrected for good outcomes (Schermerhorn 282).
Change is inevitable in the current economic environment in which firms are operating. While change remains inevitable, the flow of communication in the change processes of firms also remains vital. Communication has been found to be the determinant factor of success in the implementation of change. Both Microsoft and Apple companies have had difficulties in the utilization of communication for implementing change. This means that many organizations are finding it hard to implement change because of communication barriers. Therefore, communication remains to be a major issue that affects change in organizations. Communication has to be fully included in researches on organizational change as it is one of the impediments of full realization of change.