In accordance with the text, “Empowerment Effort that Came Undone”, the key barriers to change at SportsGear includes extensive trust issues, lapses in communication and limited teamwork between employees. The new CEO of the company, Martin, was quick to reinforce the need for empowerment at Sports Gear but without reassurance or trust from an unknown team fixated on resisting change and remaining within their respective comfort zones. The reactions and behavior of Harry throughout the text is reminiscent of these trust issues and the failure of the CEO to adequately gain the trust and respect of his team prior to implementing these changes.
However the failure of the CEO to slowly develop trust within his team is compounded by significant resistance to change and employees failing to grasp innovation and change as a result of their traditional experiences, beliefs and training. Significant issues in relation to communication at Sports Gear are also responsible for resistance to change. There are obvious differences in opinions between employees towards the idea of change and inspiring empowerment and a new sense of innovation and dynamical thinking; however, these opinions are never openly communicated to the CEO and subsequently, Martin can not respond to these issues if there are no comprehensive communication feedback mechanisms in place.
Limited teamwork is a significant barrier to change as employees can not provide collaborative approaches to change or innovation in group environments without sufficient teamwork (Kotter 1996). There is significant disarray and disorder amongst the team at Sports Gear with conflict between employees and differing opinions of empowerment. Team members are not willing to provide the new CEO with advice or reliable feedback on how to make the idea of empowerment more appealing within the company. Instead, employees choose to discuss the idea of empowerment amongst themselves.
There are a number of measures that could have been implemented to assist George and his team in changing company ideals and direction. Firstly, George could have used the first few weeks of his tenure as CEO to become more acquainted with his team and find out what their issues were with regards to previous management and whether they have any advice with regards to facilitating change and empowerment in the current workplace. This time could also have been used to understand the respective requirements and job roles of each team member and employee and how they fit into the workplace and what their background is. This process would have immediately identified that employees such as Harry are disoriented with the business and too overly rigid and traditional in their practices and approaches to future development and growth within the company (Changing Minds, 2015). They would of provided the necessary means for employees to understand what the CEO is all about and what their vision is for the company. Time could have been allocated for discussion sessions and allowing older and more traditional members to further understand why change is necessary and how empowerment will not only spark change but promote positive behaviors (Kotter, 1996).
Other initiatives that could have been used to reduce resistance to change include the development of effective communication barriers between employees and management. By communicating the intent of change processes and informing personnel about why they are necessary, employees can be given the time to accept any future decisions and potentially grow to become part of the implemented or proposed changes. Furthermore, personnel can be allowed to openly provide advice or feedback on any proposed changes through a structured and fair communication system. Instead, the absence of effective streams of communication has led to lapses in trust (Kotter, 1996).
With respect to inspiring further commitment to change, discussion sessions and workshops can introduce employees to the ideas of change and clearly inform them about why they are necessary and how they will positively influence their careers with the company. Commitment can also be promoted by providing one on one feedback to each employee and showing on a personal level to each employee that management cares about their respective careers and futures with the company. By effectively communicating with employees on this level, they can build trust in the management of the company and respective leaders such as George and Martin (Changing Minds, 2015).
The provision of incentives or awards within the workplace can also inspire employees to remain committed to the company and any ideas which may be proposed. If employees can understand the benefits of change and be driven to accept change proposals through incentives or potential rewards, than they are more likely to grasp change initiatives and assist in implementing and maintaining them (Kotter, 1996). This also relates back to the idea of communication and ensuring that employees are cognizant of the benefits of potential change and how their respective contributions may lead to sufficient monetary rewards such as bonuses or even a pay rise.
Ultimately, employees at Sports Gear are pivotal to its future direction and potential change. By considering their potential reactions to change as well as their needs, requirements and responsibilities, change can be fairly implemented and with the full support of all involved. In the case of Sports Gear, management failed to consider these needs and expected that employees would support any proposed changes without any support or feedback from respective employees.
- Changing Minds. (2015). Rationales for Resistance. Changing Minds.Org, Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/
- Kotter, J.P. (1996). Leading Change. Harvard Business School Press, Retrieved from https://books.google.com.au/