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HR, change initiatives and organization conflict

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Every week, the HR division has a virtual team meeting in which you discuss both specific and general issues relating to CF&F. The focus this week is on developing a collaborative workplace culture.

You know that in implementing any major organizational change initiative, there will be resistance to it. The talk turns to the use of power, conflict, and coalitions. You decide to help the group by doing some research on these concepts to understand how they play out in moving the change forward and in resistance to any change.

Answer these questions:

How does power move a change initiative forward, and how is it used to block changes?

What can HR and senior leadership do to use power to move change levers?

How can conflict be a powerful tool for organization change and growth?

How can HR and senior leadership determine when and how to use conflict?

Coalitions move the organizational culture in many directions (and block movements as well). How can the organization determine which coalitions are helping the change and which are blocking the change?

How can you use that information to help move the organization toward the desired future state of the change? Be sure to provide examples.

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How does power move a change initiative forward, and how is it used to block changes?

Power is broadly defined as "the capacity to bring about change (Burgess, 2010).
Mintzberg (1983) says that organizational change processes are influenced by the institutionalization of power and the behavior of interest groups in and around organizations.

A substantial amount of power resides in the top management of the organization. Power is the driving force of any organization. It can be used to make an initiative come to fruition and it can also be used to block change initiative.

If the organization envisions achieving growth and dominance in a particular industry, the management can simply invoke its power to hire the best technical minds, acquiring the state-of-the art productive facilities. It has the power of the bourse.

On the other hand, power can also be used to block changes. Technological change is the trend today, in business, in politics, in running any organization, trade, among others. Top management (those uninitiated bureaucrats) has the power of shielding itself from technological changes by sticking to old ways of producing things thru office memoranda. Restricting the use of internet by allocating minimal, if not zero, budget on any technological attempts is one way of blocking change the legitimate way.

Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, Co-Directors and Editors
c/o Conflict Information Consortium (Formerly Conflict Research Consortium), University of Colorado http://www.beyondintractability.org/user_guides/third_side/equalizers_what-is-power.jsp

What can HR and senior leadership do to use power to move change levers?

HR and the senior leadership are instrumental in instituting change with the vast power that they possess in the organization. They can, and have the power, to change how things are run/managed. Stright (1997) suggested that management can alter the following aspects to effect organization change. These are a.)methodology for managing change, b.) managing the enterprise culture to support change, c.) altering organization design, d.) process design, and e.) how the organization treat technology. Each of these factors is not treated independently from each other but rather as a gear moving in unison. It depends on how the HR and senior leadership will steer the gear - backwards or forward.

Source:
Stright, Jay F., Jr., "Five Letter of Effective Change in HR", Reprinted from Employment Relations Today, Spring 1997, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

How can conflict be a powerful tool for organization change and growth?

No two individuals or workers possess the same characteristics. Even identical twins have distinct personality. Conflict in the organization arises because of different orientation, education, and views. However, conflicts can be a vehicle for growth. When workers find themselves on the opposite side of the management would mean that they care about the future of the organization. Grievances in the organization are indicators that the organization has not yet evolved to face the challenges of the future. Conflict is like a stream running across rough stones and eventually making them soft in due time. Apple Corporation would have not attained their position today in the software, hardware, and communications market had it not for the leadership conflict they encountered.

Conflict is often needed because it:

1. Helps to raise and address problems.
2. Energizes work to be on the most appropriate issues.
3. Helps people "be real", for example, it motivates them to participate.
4. Helps people learn how to recognize and benefit from their differences.

Conflict is not the same as discomfort. The conflict isn't the problem - it is when conflict is poorly managed that is the problem. (Carter Mcnamara)

Source: Basics of Conflict Management, © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision. http://managementhelp.org/intrpsnl/basics.htm

How can HR and senior leadership determine when and how to use conflict?

Foundation Coalition (www.foundationcoalition.org) defined conflict as a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, value, or goals. Conflict on teams is inevitable. Conflict might ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses how power moves a change initiative forward and how is it used to block changes. There are further discussions on HR and senior leadership as agents of lever change. It deals on how conflict can be a potent tool for organization change and growth.

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