It is usually the top level of a management hierarchy that makes the most important changes in any organization. The lower level only implements these changes. Such a hierarchy often misses out small and minute details of planning. Managers must, hence, understand how to plan for changes under such conditions.
The term management hierarchy basically refers to a structure of superior and subordinate rankings. Almost every small and large organization follows this structure. Under this hierarchy, members of an organization follow a fixed chain of command.
In a management hierarchy, it is always the top-level executives who decide all important matters. For example, in a company, this would include the board of directors. Thus, they are the ones who take all the major decisions.
In the next level, managers and executives simply implement plans that the top level makes. They take only small and simple decisions in order to enforce those plans.
In other words, they do not really play a big role in enforcing changes. Under such structures, it is common for finer details of changes to get left out.
For example, let’s say a company’s board decides to revamp its business by adopting the latest technology available. The board will inform the management of this decision and leave its implementation to them.
In such cases, the management will have to consider finer details that the board is likely to leave out. This includes details like the purchase of new machinery, termination of certain employees, training of workers, etc.
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Changes under Management Hierarchies
As we saw above, it is difficult to implement big changes under a management hierarchy structure. Organizations can adopt several effective measures to resolve this problem.
One of the simplest solutions to this problem is to maintain a specialized planning unit. This unit is responsible for planning each and every finer detail of management. The unit can contain members from all levels of management for facilitating smooth implementation of changes.
Another effective strategy is to involve an external management consultant. These consultants are professionals who use their skills and expertise to suggest ways of implementing changes successfully. People are often less likely to resist changes when they are enforced and managed by outsiders.
Lewin’s Three-Step Model
American psychologist Kurt Lewin has also suggested an effective strategy to implement changes in hierarchical structures. According to him, changes involve three steps.
Firstly, the organization should try to unfreeze the status quo, i.e. the prevailing state of affairs. This step requires the organization to clearly identify the status quo and declare that it will no longer be in effect. All concerned members of the organization must know and understand this.
Secondly, the management must now find effective ways to change the status quo. This involves identification of methods to implement the changes. These methods should be practical and implementable.
Finally, the last step requires freezing of the new status quo. The management should, thus, ensure smooth facilitation of the changes. It must find ways to make the employees refrain from resisting against the proposed changes.
Action research is the process of evaluating the implementation of changes. Under this method, managers use a scientific approach to understand how plans are working. They may use figures, statistics, feedback and opinions of employees for this purpose.
Action research basically involves steps like diagnosis, feedback, action, and evaluation. A scientific approach like this helps in smooth implementation of changes. Furthermore, it plays an even bigger role in hierarchical structures where mistakes are more common.
Solved Questions for You
State the missing words in the following statements.
(1) It is always the __________ level of management that makes major decisions.
(2) Under a management hierarchy, the organization follows a fixed __________.
(3) Organizations can maintain a specialized __________ to implement changes and plans.
(4) The first step in Lewin’s three-step model involves __________ the status quo.
(5) The use of statistics and figures is a part of __________ for implementing changes.
Answers: (1) top (2) chain of command (3) planning unit (4) unfreezing (5) action research