The introduction of changes in a business is usually related to resistance at lower or higher level. Such risk can be reduced if appropriate measures are taken in advance. In this study, reference is made to an organisation’s effort to implement a change plan in order to secure the benefits of Organisational Development.
The above effort of the organisation has led to certain benefits. Still, improvements would be made to the plan so that a long term growth is achieved. It should be noted that the business operate in the fast food industry, a sector which is quite competitive. In UK, where the business is based, the strong competition of the industry has been combined with the market pressures. This means that in order to secure their organisational development the businesses of the industry, including the business under review, should focus on all aspects of organisational change.
The appearance of failures in the completion of daily organisational tasks usually indicates the need for reviewing the organisational sectors involved. If such initiative is not taken immediately then the deterioration of organisational performance is not avoided. For ensuring that such phenomena are avoided in their environment businesses can act in advance by developing a flexible strategy, i.e. a strategy that allows to managers an early intervention to organisational problems (Pasmore et al., 2013). In this way, chances for severe losses are limited while the exposure of the organisation to further risks is reduced.
Organisational development is a framework that helps managers to face problems by implementing appropriate plans of change. In the literature, organisational development has been described as ‘the process of planned change and improvement of organisations through the application of knowledge of the behavioural sciences’ (Griffin and Moorhead, 2009: 504).
The practical implications of organisational development are explored in this paper. Reference is made to a business of the UK fast-food industry. The specific business operates in UK for more than 10 years and it is part of a global chain of fast-food restaurants. Due to severe problems in the organisation’s daily operations the implementation of a plan for change was considered as the only solution. The key aim of this effort was to achieve organisational development within the shortest possible period and within an economy budget. Following this practice would allow the business to keep its performance standardized while organisational development would be in progress. The target set was only partially achieved. Losses were minimized but the cost of the strategy was proved much higher than initially estimated. Being an employee of the business during this period I am able to describe the various phases of organisational development, as occurred in the particular business. A series of factors have negatively affected the progress of the strategy. Still, the benefits gained through the implementation of change cannot be ignored. Drawbacks would need a bit longer, than expected, in order to disappear.
2.0 Organisational development in practice – a case study
2.1 Overview of the UK fast food sector
The UK fast food sector is a quite powerful one. In fact, the specific sector is characterized by strong competition and the increased control of multinational brands, such as McDonalds and KFC (Ibis World, 2014). Despite the signs of decreased performance in the near past, the particular sector shows signs of long term growth. So far, the businesses of this sector achieve a growth of 2.5% annually (Ibis World 2014, par.2). Local brands seem to have improved their position while new entrants have become common phenomenon. For the future, the perspectives of the sector have been highlighted as significant. Still, concerns have appeared in regard to critical issues that have been related to industry’s products; reference can be made, as an example, to the concerns developed by governmental and non-governmental organisations in UK for the potential threat of the sector’s products for children’s health (Hardwick, 2014).
2.2 Assessment of the strategy implemented
In order to evaluate the appropriateness of the strategy of change implemented in the organisation of the case study it is necessary to present primary this strategy’s parts. Then, an assessment can be produced in regard to this strategy taking into consideration the existing literature but also the benefits and drawbacks of the strategy, as appeared almost immediately after the strategy’s implementation.
2.2.1 Key elements of the strategy
The strategy implemented in the business under examination had two parts: a) the first part referred to the introduction of changes in the tasks allocated to the staff; changes were introduced in relation to the duties of all employees, including for the restaurant’s supervisor; b) the second part of the strategy included a training program. All employees in the businesses had to participate in a training program of six weeks. The participation in the program was mandatory for employees. In order to avoid resistance the owner of the business has announced that during the program employees would be paid normally, as being in work. In the context of the program each employee had to spend one hour daily in classroom-based lectures. Also, employees were provided with support material, such as notes and lists with resources for further study. Each Friday employees had to pass a test on the week’s material. The results of the test were checked by a HR consultant. Each second Friday, the consultant had a meeting with employees for discussing their progress. At the end of the program employees passed an evaluation test the results of which were announced to the business owner. These results were combined with the employees’ overall performance, as reported daily in the workplace. Emphasis was given to the potential of employees to respond to their new duties and to achieve self-improvement.
2.2.2 Critical assessment of the strategy’s appropriateness
According to the literature, organisational development is a complex framework. Indeed, in practice it has been proved that the above framework can refer either to the structural characteristics of a business or to the communication channels used by employees for responding to the needs of their role (Cummings and Worley, 2014).
The major advantage of OD it its potential to be related ‘either to organisational structure or to organisational processes’ (Cummings and Worley, 2014: 3). Brandford and Burke (2005) also agree that OD is quite wide incorporating practices of different elements depending on the skills/ experiences of the managers involved or on the resources available for the implantation of the relevant strategy.
On other hand, Yaeger and Sorensen (2009) have supported that organisational development cannot be achieved just by introducing change. Rather, it is necessary to review organisational strategy carefully and to proceed to radical improvements (Yaeger and Sorensen, 2009). In other words, OD should be based on short-term benefits but rather on the long term organisational growth. A similar approach is used by Anderson (2013). The above researcher explains that OD is not just a series of changes on existing business activities. It is rather a framework for transforming organisational practices. Such benefit can be secured only if organisational culture is also reviewed and updated (Anderson, 2013). The value of OD for the improvement of organisational performance is also highlighted in the study of Rothwell et al. (2009). In the above study particular reference is made to the leader’s role in the successful implementation of OD plans. This view is justified by referring to the following fact: in case of strong oppositions towards an OD plan the leader is the person that has to assess the crisis appropriately and to take emergent decisions. If the leader fails to respond effectively in any phase of the plan then the chances for the success of the plan are significantly reduced (Rothwell et al., 2009). The potential practices of managers for developing effective strategies are presented in the graph in Figure 1 (Appendices).
According to the above, the strategy of change implemented in the business reviewed in this paper cannot be characterized as fully effective. At a first level, the restaurant’s manager has accepted that he had not experience on such plans. Then, when employees started to have concerns on their replacement during their absence for the seminars no clear answer was given to them. No particular program has been developed for arranging the changing of swifts during the training program. Rather, swift arrangements were made daily, in the beginning of the swift and with reference to the other day. In this way, if an employee would not be able to replace a colleague as a result of an unexpected event, then the staff’s left in the restaurant would not be adequate for covering the tasks required. On the other fact, all employees have welcomed the re-distribution of tasks and the arrangement of meetings with the HR consultant. Due to these practices the restaurant’s efforts to promote change have faced minimum resistance from employees.
2.3 Evaluation of how the cooperation of stakeholders has been ensured
In the change plan implemented in the business under examination the cooperation of stakeholders has been attempted by using two motives: one monetary and the other non-monetary. Indeed, at a primary level efforts have been made so employees do not feel as suffering losses due to their participation in the OD plan of the organisation. In fact, employees are compensated normally without their participation in the training program to reduce their daily income. Moreover, a non-monetary motive has been used by the employer in order to ensure that employees would not feel as threatened by the change efforts: employees have the chance to discuss with the HR consultant in regard to the changes in their duties but also in regard to their needs and weaknesses as of the tasks assigned to them daily. In this way, the change plan becomes for employees a chance for self-development and not a cause for potential losses. The effectiveness of this approach could be decided by referring to the responses of employees to the plan of change but also to their views as of the particular organisational initiative. After the end of the training program a survey was conducted within the business. Employees had to state their view on the OD plan so far and to make suggestions for potential improvements of the plan. The findings of the survey seem to be quite satisfactory: about 73% of employees are convinced for the plan’s necessity while 68% of employees agree that the chosen approaches for promoting change have been appropriate. However, there is also a percentage 32% of employees that would prefer to wait for a particular period of time before developing an opinion for the plan’s effectiveness.
The literature developed in this field offers the chance to understand the role of stakeholders in the organisational development but also the need to secure their participation in any organisational change plan. For Grieves (2010) stakeholders would be willing to support the OD of a business only in the following case: that they would be given the chance to share their knowledge/ resources with the organisation. For example, customers would be supportive to an organisation’s effort to improve its services by giving to customers the potential for a feedback (Grieves, 2010). The provision of free Internet within a restaurant so that customers can check the daily menu and state their view on their food on real-time would be another scheme for increasing the customers’ interest towards the business involved.
From another point of view, Schabracq (2009) explained that the efforts for securing the stakeholders’ support in a plan of change should be based on criteria of hierarchy: emphasis should be given primarily to the members of the organisation as ‘those who are interested mostly for the organisation’s success’ (Schabracq, 2009: 23). However, Roberts notes that when being in front of a plan of change the employees of a business are likely to react primarily with ‘cynicism and skepticism’ (2014: 58).
If checked using the literature mentioned above, the approach of the manager to secure the support of stakeholders can be characterized as successful. However, this view would refer only to a particular category of stakeholders: employees. For other categories, including customers and community valid view could be formulated after a period of time, such as 6 months, and after checking the business performance in practice. For example, if 6 months after the number of customers’ complaints would continue to increase then the alteration of the OD plan of the business would be unavoidable. In other words, the business has emphasized just on its close stakeholders, probably believing that in this way direct benefits could be achieved. For the stakeholders of the business that are outside of the internal organisational environment (Figure 2) the relevant measures would take long to show their benefits, a view that can be considered as partially justified.
The implementation of a change plan in the business under review has been considered as the only way to achieve organisational development (OD). However, the change plan introduced has not been carefully designed. The fact that emphasis has been given to employees can be considered as justified since employees are those directly affected by the organisational performance and those that can mostly prevent the success of such plan (Oswick, 2013). However, the failure of the business to address the needs of other stakeholders can be considered as a major issue (Idris et al., 2014). In addition, signs of improvement of the daily performance of business have appeared but this benefit has been achieved employing higher investment than estimated (Barnard and Stoll, 2010). Of course, the efforts of a business to promote change should not be too dynamic. In this case the chance for the negative responses of the stakeholders is high (Hashim, 2014). In regard to this issue it has been noted that the opposition of stakeholders to a change plan is likely to become ‘stronger as the time passes’ (Roberts 2014; 58). For eliminating such risk the managers of GM have preferred to follow Lewin’s plan of change (Figure 3), which highlights the value of slow steps in the implementation of change in each organisation. The manager in the business under examination seemed to have preferred a similar approach. Despite this fact, the alteration of the strategy implemented as certain of its parts would result to the increase of the strategy’s effectiveness.
The strategy of change implemented in the business under review should be improved at the following points: a) customers should be given the chance to evaluate the business performance and to make their recommendations in regard to the progress of change, as applied in the business; for example, a customer-feedback leaflet should be available in the restaurant; b) the website of the restaurant should be appropriately customized so that the following option is available to customers: customers should be given the potential to vote online for the restaurant’s menu, making their choices as their preferences. The results would be evaluated by the firm’s manager on a weekly basis so that drawbacks of the menu are addressed. In other words, customers should be given a more active role in the improvement of organisation’s performance. The specific approach however would require the transformation of the business culture which is more aligned with the interests of its closest stakeholders, i.e. its members, a practice that it is not always considered as negative (Schabracq, 2009); c) also, a supervision scheme should be developed for ensuring that the phases of the strategy of change are sufficiently monitored as in all of their elements. This measure would be aligned with the suggestions made by Griffith-Cooper and King (2007) in regard to the importance of control in the organisational change (Figure 4).
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