Productivity during change can be affected positively and negatively by restraining forces and driving forces respectively. Productivity can reach a state of equilibrium between these two apposing forces. However, this balance can be punctuated by a disturbance in one or both of the apposing forces. Therefore, at any given time, the productivity can go up or down depending on the strength or weakness of either the restraining or driving forces. This view of change and transformation is known as punctuated equilibrium.
A leader can use this theory in preparing for change in order to evaluate whether the change is possible to implement and/or to plan actions to better implement the change. To do so, the leader should conduct a force field analysis of both the driving forces behind the change and the restraining forces against the change. He or she can then estimate if there is a reasonable possibility to implement the change or not.
Restraining forces may include market pressures, internal structures and capabilities or resistance from employees. Resistance can be passive or overt. For example, employees may be unenthusiastic to make a change because they have been through previous change efforts which were not totally successful. Because of this, their will to take up another project may be low. In some cases, employees may totally check out of the process, either passively or actively resisting the change. This could include talking negatively about the project with other team members, starting an employee campaign against the project, or other actions which can hurt the successful implementation of the change.
Leaders can do eight steps which will help them manage change efforts more successfully. These include the following: 1. Build an environment of trust with the employees in order to create an environment where employees are more open to ideas and more willing to discuss possibilities and problems associated with change. 2. Link the change effort to a common team value in order to help employees feel they can relate to the change effort at a personal level. This increases the desire and motivation to change. 3. Articulate and communicate a clear message about why the change effort is needed and will help the team. This links the facts and figures supporting the change to the team value. Communication should frequent throughout the effort. 4. Establish a vision with the employees regarding the possible advantages of making the change in order to help the team define for themselves where the change will take them. 5. Collaborate for solutions with team members so that employees have the opportunity to identify the driving and restraining forces in the change effort and identify action steps for implementing steps to implement the change and overcome the restraining forces. 6. Establish and celebrate wins along the way. The leader should actively orchestrate wins and celebrations so employees can see that the change effort is important and see that changes in behavior will lead to positive outcomes. 7. The leader must manage performance around the change. This includes coaching those who need support with the change, disciplining or removing those who continually resist the change or have decided to fight against it, rewarding positive changes, hiring employees who have the new capabilities needed in the change effort, etc… 8. Constantly monitor the process and the results to ensure that the change effort is on track.
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