- Published: October 31, 2021
- Updated: October 31, 2021
- University / College: University of Plymouth
- Language: English
- Downloads: 5
Organizations have to adopt appropriate changes in time in order to remain competitive in this highly demanding global environment. So change forms integral to organizations, and they need to devise suitable strategies and tactics for facilitating effective changes at various levels. Assessments on the change management initiatives with special emphasis on J.C. Penney Company Inc (JCP) were made and are discussed in detail.
About the company
JCP is a US based retailer established in the early 1900’s. They are “one of the nation’s largest apparel and home furnishing retailers” (JC Penney, 2014, p. 3) in the US. There areabout 1000 plus JCP stores across the US where they provide quality products to different categories of customers. They have good online presence as well. In the recent times, they are restructuring their store formats and merchandizing mixes to better suit the changing demands and expectations of the customers as well as to expand their customer base.
The need for change
As a result of strong competition from their competitors like Kohl’s corporation, Macy’s, etc. and due to some serious miscalculations at strategic level, JCP had incurred huge losses in the recent years (Lublin and Mattel, 2013). So they aim to bring about major changes in their store formats and merchandizing options in view to remain competitive as well as for expanding their customer base and sales considerably. These changes at JCP should be done in alignment with the demands and expectations of the existing and prospective customers. The proposed change management initiatives are expected to affect all the stakeholders including the employees, clients, suppliers, partners and even the management. So suitable change management model need to be adapted for facilitating the necessary changes at JCP.
The change management model
Kotter’s eight step change management model (fig 1) appear to be suitable in effecting the proposed changes at JCP. Kotter’s eight step model is highly systematic and focused in bringing about changes smoothly at individual and organizational levels and hence found to be applicable in the current context. The different stages of the Kotter’s model are aimed at creating awareness among the stakeholder’s of the needed change; generating interest among the stakeholders in participating in the change process and guiding them into adopting the required changes in time (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).
Figure 1. Different steps in the Kotter’s 8 step change management model (Source: Kotter & Cohen, 2002, p. 36)
Based on Kotter’s model, the first and foremost thing for ensuring effective change management is to convince all the stakeholders of JCP about the purpose and importance of change to them as well as to the organization. Leaders and the managers have to create a sense of need and urgency among the employees at JCP towards the proposed change. Through appropriate means like presentations, briefings, etc. the employees should be made aware of the inevitability of these changes. Employees should be briefed of the possible risks and threats to the employees and to the organization, in case the proposed change is not implemented in time. Provide information on the benefits of these changes at individual, group and organizational levels. The next stage is to develop a highly motivated team including managers to actively go ahead with the change management process. There is the need to support and encourage all the employees to participate proactively in the process. Establish both formal and informal communication networks in order to progress effectively as a team.
Leader has to envision a realistic and time bound plan for implementing the changes at JCP effectively. In line with the vision and plan, the leader and the managers need devise appropriate strategies and tactics for proceeding with the change management process. In the case of JCP, the plan is to identify the needs, demands and expectations of the target population; redesign the store formats and merchandising options in alignment with customer expectations. After developing the plan, the leader along with the managers has to communicate to all the relevant stakeholders. That is, each employee should be clearly made aware of the altered tasks and responsibilities and the level of coordination and efforts expected of them individually and as a team for bringing about the proposed changes at JCP. Developing formal and informal communication networks seems appropriate for this purpose (Auguste, 2013).
Empowering the individuals to perform their altered responsibilities forms the next step in the process. In accordance with the requirements, organizing specific training sessions at JCP is a must (Stragalas, 2010). Leaders, as well as the managers, have to ensure that the employees have been adequately equipped to perform their new roles and responsibilities with ease. Encourage the employees to perform to expected levels. Setting interim goals and rewarding them in accordance with their fulfillment could form a major motivation for the employees in accomplishing the set goals. Attaining short-term and long-term goals are important for ensuring effective implementation of the different change processes at JCP.
At any stage, one cannot ignore the possibility for resistance from the part of the employees. So the leader needs to ensure that appropriate measures are taken at each stage for reducing or minimizing the extent of resistance. So proper communication, both forward and backward communication is essential for ensuring this. Empowerment also plays a major role in reducing resistance from the concerned stakeholders to a certain extent. The employees have to be rightly informed about the different change initiatives adopted at JCP, and they should be given opportunity to know about the progress, at each stage. Lack of clarity or absence of proper information might adversely affect the progress of the change management process.
The role of leader in the change initiative
Leaders have a prominent part in ensuring successful implementation of change management initiatives in an organization. They are the driving force in effecting change at individual and organizational levels. Leader needs to play a proactive role right from identifying the need for change; designing the change management processes; developing a vision for change; motivating and empowering the employees and other stakeholders in the direction of change; developing, leading and guiding the team, designing appropriate communication strategies and adopting or adapting all strategic measures for facilitating the needed change in their organization (Auguste. 2013).
Leader need to constantly motivate the managers and the employees and guide them in the right direction. The leader has to take conscious efforts to communicate effectively to all the stakeholders and to guide them along the path of change. There is the need to develop good working relationship with the management team as well as the employees so as to be effective in leading and guiding them (Kotter & Cohen, 2002). Leaders have a part in designing the short term and long term goals that are realistic and achievable for individuals as well as for the group. They need to encourage and empower the individuals and teams into accomplishing desirable outcome. The success of the change management initiatives does depend on how effectively the leader can motivate and support their employees into achieving desirable goals and objectives. At the same time, the leader need to remain highly focused in attaining both short term and long term goals. In order to sustain change, the leaders, through the support of the management team have to devise appropriate rewarding systems for encouraging the employees to perform and contribute effectively.
Evaluations on the change management initiatives with special emphasis on JCP revealed the need for focused and strategic efforts from the leadership for leading and guiding the organization in the direction of change. Kotter’s 8 step change management model was found to be applicable in the context as it systematically addresses all the change processes right from creating a need for change among the stakeholders until the implementation of the change. Effective leadership, proper communication strategy and the support and cooperation of all the stakeholders appear to be key in facilitating effective change in organizations.
Auguste, J. (2013). Applying Kotter’s 8-step process for leading change to the digital transformation of an orthopedic surgical practice group in Toronto, Canada. J Health Med Informat, 4 (3): 129 – 134. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from http://omicsonline.org/applying-kotter-step-process-for-leading-change-to-digital-transformation-of-an-orthopedic-surgical-practice-2157-7420.1000129.pdf
JC Penney (2014). About us. Retrieved May 31, 2014, from http://ir.jcpenney.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=70528&p=irol-homeprofile
Kotter, J. P. & Cohen, D.S. (2002). The heart of change: Real life stories of how people change their organizations. UK: Harvard Business Press.
Lublin, J. S. and Mattioli, D. (2013). Penney CEO Out, Old Boss Back In. The Wall Street Journal, April 8. Retrieved June 1, 2014, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324504704578411031708241800
Stragalas, N. (2010). Improving change implementation: Practical adaptations of Kotter’s model. OD Practitioner, 42 (1): 31 – 38. Retrieved June 3, 2014, from http://www.ncstragalas.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/my-article-in-OD-practitioner.pdf