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Assignment Questions

Managing Change in the Workplace

MGT/426 Managing Change in the Workplace
Managing Change Paper Part III
Wal-Mart Super Store

Prepare a 500-word paper applying an appropriate change model to your selected organization?s change situation.
Develop a communication plan for that change.
Put your communication plan for change into 5 sections.
Here is Parts I and II for some guidance..

PT 1
Change Management for WalMart
The commercial environment in which firms compete is forever changing. Internal and external forces stimulate a need for change; firms that fail to change and adapt are likely to stagnate and suffer as a result of their resistance to change. The aim of this paper is to look at an organization which needs to change, considering what change is needed, the lifecycle of change, including consideration of continuous and discontinuous change, and different types of change agents.
The Need for Change at WalMart
WalMart is the largest retailer in the US; it is also the largest private employer with an estimated 1.3 million employees (Workplacefairness.org, 2014). The firm places a high level of reliance in the employees, but despite this the firm appears to have ongoing problems with its employee relations; the firm is regularly accused of discrimination, excessively low wages, and unfair practices (Halkias, 2014; RT.com, 2014). The problems are not new; the problems have been ongoing for many years, indicating a need for change within the organization and the way they engage with employees. To consider now the change should be designed and implemented it is necessary to look at the cycle of change.
The Cycle of Change
There is a pattern to the way successful changes take place within organizations. Several models have been developed to describe the process or cycle of change. Looking at all the models below, it becomes apparent there is a general pattern of preparation, implementation and then monitoring and support.
Lewin’s (1951) change model is old, but is still widely cited. This model has three stages, the preparation of the change during which the plans are made and employees support should be gained, the implementation of the change, and finally entrenching the change(Lewin, 1951).
Kotter (1996) developed an 8 stage model, the stages are self explanatory. The stages are, firstly, the creation of a sense of urgency, forming a powerful coalition, the creation of a vision and strategy, and the communication to share the vision (Kotter, 1996). This will be followed by the removal of obstacles, creating some sort term wins, building on the change and then anchoring the change in the organizational culture (Kotter, 1996). The first stages of preparation and communication relate to Lewin’s preparation stage, the middle stages to the actual change and the last two are the equivalent of entrenching the change.
The next consideration is the way in which the change occurs, there are two main typos of change; continuous and discontinuous.
Continuous Change
Continuous change may also be called evolutionary change or incremental change(Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010). These types of changes take place gradually, and may evolve naturally. Continuous change may take place in small steps, and face less resistance due to its gradual nature, it is also the type of change that may facilitate ongoing change, such as programs where there is the aim of constant improvements being sought (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010). This would involve making small changesso they became part of the culture, but the results may take a long time to be realized.
Discontinuous Change
Discontinuous change may also be called revolutionary change or transformational change (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010). Discontinuous changes are major changes that have a significant impact on the employees (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010). Nadler, Shaw, & Walton (2004), state that this type of change can be traumatic and painful for a firm. The change may be sudden and there may be a higher level of fear regarding the changethat may result in higher levels of resistance compared to continuous change, and more employee support will be needed if the change is to be efficient and effective (Nadler et al., 2004). An advantage is that discontinuous change may facilitate more rapid change, which is needed at WalMart.
Change Agents
Caldwell (2003) developed four classifications of change agents, these included leaders, management, change teams and consultants. Two of the main change agents are the leadership and the employees, one of which may influence through the formal channels of communication, and the other through the informal channels.
Leaders will have a vision, are able to communicate and win support though meetings and actions. The leaders are able to delegate and allocate resources, and it is known if senior management and leadership do not support a change, the potential for success will diminish (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010). The need for change, along with the sense of urgency and allocation of resources needed can be facilitated by the leadership, to develop a culture where there is a greater engagement with employees, where issues may be resolved internally and there is a greater stakeholder approach.
Employees will also need to be engaged, leaders can engage with management so that the message permeates down through the hierarchy. Management can then engage with opinion leaders in the employee base to garner support, explaining the change and gaining support. The culture of an organization and the way practices are implemented will be heavily reliant on the employees; if WalMart store managers and team leaders do not adopt the changes in values and practices, which impact on the culture, the problems with employee relations will continue.


Buchanan, D; Huczynski, A, (2010) Organizational Behavior, Harlow, FT/Prentice Hall

Caldwell Raymond, (2003), Models of Change Agency: a Fourfold Classification, British Journal of Management, 14 131-132

Halkias, M, (2014, April 1), Appeals court allows former Wal-Mart employee?s gender bias lawsuit to proceed, Dallas News, accessed at http://www.dallasnews.com/business/retail/20140401-appeals-court-allows-former-wal-mart-employees-gender-bias-lawsuit-to-proceed.ece on 20th June 2014

Kotter J P, (1996), Leading Change, Harvard Business Press

Lewin K, (1951) Field Theory in Social Sciences, Harper and Row

Nadler David A; Shaw Robert B; Walton A. Elise, (1994), Discontinuous Change: Leading Organizational Transformation, Jossey-Bass

RT.com, (2014, Jan 16), Feds accuse Walmart of threatening, intimidating employees who protest company, RT, accessed http://rt.com/usa/walmart-charged-documents-labor-union-679/ on 20th June 2014

Workplacefairness.org, (2014), Wal-Mart, accessed at http://www.workplacefairness.org/reports/good-bad-wal-mart/wal-mart.php on 20th June 2014

PT 2
Managing Change at Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is among the unique success stories in the business world. Founded by Sam Walton in 1962, the company has expanded to become the largest corporation in the world. The success of this company can be attributed to a range of strategies culminating to higher productivity and reduced costs than competitors. These strategies allowed Wal-Mart to earn a high turnover while charging low prices. Regardless of all the success, the company is experiencing problems. Even with the long term held belief that workers must be treated well; the corporation has been a target of the workers, citing discrimination and working for long hours without overtime pay. All these warrant the need for change.
Understanding shared vision and organizational culture is a key determinant of success in introducing change. It is certain that in the organization, there will be resistance to change. Employees? basic way of life is likely to change, and their familiar work environment will be altered. Basic organizational aspects will be challenged so changewill generate stiff resistance. Communicating the vision for the change, thus is a crucial vehicle to help generate commitment and overcome resistance. Understanding why the change is beneficial and necessary will be the most vital move in obtaining employee commitment. According to research, employers have a tendency of explaining ?why? to subordinates they hold in high esteem. Therefore, explaining ?why? will communicate both esteem and caring for employees touched by the change process (Kezar & George Washington University, 2001).
The issue is that most Wal-Mart employees are part of the previous way of life as well as part of the future change. Previous criticisms diminish employee commitment because it is perceived as a criticism of the previous best efforts of Wal-Mart?s employees. Wal-Mart?s leadership must communicate a straight and clear vision about the future because change must have a clear picture of the future. Lack of organizational vision will make it difficult for Wal-Mart to achieve a successful change. According to Kotter (1995), it is very vital for Wal-Mart?s leadership to communicate a shared vision by explaining it.
Organizational culture also has a role in developing changes within Wal-Mart. Culture is the most powerful tool for managing and controlling employee behavior in the face of change. Rules and regulations may not be effective; instead, creative culture of innovation will accomplish better results by motivating employees to know that the company priorities are clear. Leaders are required to develop and manage change by fostering a suitable environment within Wal-Mart to adopt change (Mohan, 2013). Leaders are obliged to generate new strategies to develop and manage culture. The culture includes the values and beliefs that lead Wal-Mart to innovation. They include the unwritten disciplines and rules, and the leadership role will be consultative, supportive, and instructive. In Wal-Mart?s case, the most important role of the managers in change management is supporting a shared vision and organizational culture. Therefore, the ability to understand the organizational culture is a vital aspect for Wal-Mart to have in its toolkit when implementing their change process.
Engaging people who are most affected by the change, using change agents and empowering employees to implement components of the change will help minimize resistance. Sharing a common vision as broadly as possible will inhibit the trend of people developing their own theories in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity. Reducing rumor by sharing a common goal and information are all ways of engendering support (Yaeger & Sorensen, 2009).
Change management in Wal-Mart is the key to staying abreast with internal and external forces in the business world. However, it is a continuous and complex process; Wal-Mart must practice this new strategy to operate successfully.
Kezar, A. J. & George Washington University. (2001). Understanding and facilitating organizational change in the 21st century: Recent research and conceptualizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mohan, M. L. (2013). Organizational communication and cultural vision: Approaches for analysis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Yaeger, T. F., & Sorensen, P. F. (2009). Strategic organization development: Managing change for success. Charlotte: Information Age Pub.

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