The contemporary organisation has become multifaceted and is highly dependent on its technological competence and the social skills of its people. It relies strongly on team-based, collaborative processes in an effort to achieve both the short-term objectives and the long-term vision. Organisations are social entities and do not operate in isolation. The macro and micro environmental factors are always at play and can significantly impact organisational performance and output. Technology and globalisation has led to a quantum shift in organisational practices to sustain the competitive pressures of a rapidly changing business environment (Urbancova, 2013). Research suggests that agile organisations that accommodate change are more sustainable and are more likely to achieve a competitive advantage through their innovative products, processes and practices as opposed to those that resist change.
Rapidly changing technology has forced organisations to be proactive and use modern ways of handling their operations to become truly efficient. Tablets and other web-enabled devices have modernised the communication process and have transformed the way work is organised. Businesses are no longer concerned with geographical boundaries and cater to a global audience. Adapting to change has become a pivotal part of strategising in business. But, it is not only the adaptation to change that is important, organisations must always be flexible to accommodate to the changing circumstances, and function without disruptions towards the desired objectives. This requires certain capabilities and competencies that have to be developed in order to sustain for the future (Easterby‐Smith, Lyles and Peteraf, 2009).
Change management is a complex phenomenon and is of significant importance for both management and leadership. To implement change, organisations must go through a comprehensive analysis process and devise strategies that will ensure a smooth transition from the existing state to a new one (Hamel, 2008). For successful change implementation, organisations must avoid a strict top-down approach, leadership should model the new behaviours they are asking their people to adopt, hold one another accountable for the initiative’s success and identify change agents within each tier to enable organisational-wide understanding, support and commitment towards change.
The transition to a new process or practice requires effective engagement and support of all employees. Each employee faces certain phases during the change management process which often starts with a complete mental block towards the change and is then followed by denial. The denial stage may also lead some employees to feel angry or depressed about the work. Leadership and change agents within teams play a key part during this time to support employees towards the change through setting examples, inspiring colleagues and encouraging employees to explore and understand what it means to implement a particular change (Strebel, 1996). Generally, employees want to hear from two sources during transition, leadership: to explain why the change is necessary, and their immediate supervisor: to define the benefit to each individual staff member. Once an understanding is developed, the uncertainty in the minds of employees will be replaced with confidence and acceptance towards the change.
In an effort to devise flexible strategies that accommodate change, a company must gauge the business context proactively. Environmental scanning and business planning are important techniques to understand the business context (Hamel, 2008). These techniques result in useful insights about the changes and opportunities that exist in the market, thereby enabling the leadership to gain a holistic view and navigate accordingly.
The future holds many challenges for businesses and this will require the efforts of leadership towards institutionalising best practices to capture the full benefit of this change and any future transformation, and building internal capabilities and capacities that will ensure sustainability (Lawson and Samson, 2001). Leadership and management will be required to enhance their skill-sets and bring their unique contributions forward in achieving organisational targets. Smart machines and systems enhance organisational efficiency and every organisation can make effective use of the advanced technology. However, it is of great importance to note that it is human resources that will become the differentiating factor and a vital source for competitive advantage (Paauwe and Boselie, 2005). Therefore, in the face of change, leadership and personal development practices will be of vital significance for the modern and sustainable organisation of the future.
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- Easterby‐Smith, M., Lyles, M.A. and Peteraf, M.A., 2009. Dynamic capabilities: Current debates and future directions. British Journal of Management, 20(s1).
- Hamel, G., 2008. The future of management. Human Resource Management International Digest, 16(6).
- Lawson, B. and Samson, D., 2001. Developing innovation capability in organisations: a dynamic capabilities approach. International journal of innovation management, 5(03), pp.377-400.
- Paauwe, J. and Boselie, P., 2005. HRM and performance: what next? Human resource management journal, 15(4), pp.68-83.
- Strebel, P., 1996. Why do employees resist change? Harvard business review, 74(3), p.86.
- Urbancova, H., 2013. Competitive advantage achievement through innovation and knowledge. Journal of Competitiveness, 5(1).