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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Managing change in Gambian institutions

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“Change” has proved to be an extraordinary popular concept. The trouble is popular concepts sometimes looks like magic. The more popular they become, the more powerful the magic seems. Some managers in The Gambia, misled by wishful thinking, believe that merely repeating the key words “changing the organizational management” is enough to bring transformation. Change presents a major leadership challenge. For one simple reason, many people don’t like it or at least they don’t want to be told they need to change. They may fear the unknown; they may be unwilling to give up current habits or benefits; they may not trust the motive of the people advocating for change; or they may simply have experienced too many change initiatives in The Gambia that didn’t yield the promised result.

Unfortunately, nothing is that simple. Changing the way institutions work prescribes actions, not words, and difficult, long-term actions at that, not just one-short expedients like downsizing or outsourcing. Changing the manner of work involves a voyage that will last for years, possibly our entire management life time. For managers, nothing seems to be certain anymore, neither their professional know-how, nor their career paths, and certainly not their job security, to my own point of view as a pure management student and the views of many managers I have talked to about change. For failed CEOs, the consequences are partially mitigated by gold and platinum parachutes, but the parachutes themselves are a measure, by way of compensation of the exponential increase in the pressures of top cooperate officers. Management has joined the ranks of the dangerous professions.

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This article spells out a practical exploration of key questions that the actual practice of change has kicked up, all of which must be addressed for change to succeed. There are four broad issues that need to be addressed: issues of purpose, issues of culture, issues of process and performances; and issues of people.

Issues of purpose
Regarding issues of purpose, the new manager must insistently, persistently and relentlessly ask: What for? What is it that we are in business for? What is this process for? This product? This task? This team? This job? What are we doing here anyway?

Top management usually sets the vision for the organization and then often works with others in the firm to establish a mission statement. A mission statement outlines the organization’s fundamental purposes. The mission statement becomes the foundation for setting specific goals and objectives. Goals are the broad, long-term accomplishments an organization wishes to attain

Issues of culture
If successful change requires a change in a company’s whole culture, as seems to be the case in many instances, how is it to be accomplished by the same management that did so well in the old culture? If it is true and it is that change is unlikely to succeed where the cooperate atmosphere is charge with fear, how do we generate another, better environment, say, of willingness and mutual confidence?

When asked about their professional objectives, some students say, “I want to be a manager.” they may think that the role of a manager is basically being the boss. But in today’s business environment, companies are looking for much more than bosses. They want managers who understand technology, can adapt quickly to change, can skillfully motivate employees, and realize the importance of satisfying customers. Managers who can master those skills will continue to be in great demand because their commitment strongly affects their firms’ performance. An organization’s corporate culture is its system of principles, beliefs, and values. The leadership style of its managers, the way it communicates, and the overall work environment influence a firm’s corporate culture. A corporate culture is typically shaped by the leaders who founded and developed the company and by those who have succeeded them.

Identifying the value that define a culture of change, that is a culture that willingly embrace the need for constant change, is a necessary step. To make those values and culture thrive within a corporate community and to remove all the “weeds” requires teaching, living and doing at all levels of the organisation at all time.

A culture, as we have seen, can neither be simply proclaimed nor easily manipulated. The good news is that, when you clear away the weeds of bad behavior, you often find a set of values that once guided a company and to which people still adhere. In most cases, however, it will be necessary to update those values and to put them in sync with changing times.
But whether you are just weeding bad behavior, making a company’s values more contemporary or actually attempting more radical or cultural change. To change the behavior of a society of people, a common goal must be clearly expressed.

Issues of process and performance
How do we get the kind of process we want? How do we get the performance we need from our people? How do we set norms and standard or measure results for worker performance, management performance, and the performance of the whole enterprise? Change usually demand radical objectives, as well as leadership and political skills to realize. But how do we know whether we have the stuff? What does it take to be a good manager today? Today change has lead business organisation to enter what we call downsizing and outsourcing to change their process and performance.

As the economy tightens, companies are often faced with the hard choice of terminating employees to cut costs. Downsizing is the process of reducing the number of employees within a firm by eliminating jobs. Downsizing can be accomplished through early retirement plans or voluntary severance programs. When downsizing is the only alternative for company survival, there are steps managers can take to make sure it is done the best way possible. A firm committed to its workforce as part of its mission will do everything it can to support the workers who must leave and those who will stay.

Another way that firms shrink themselves into leaner organizations is by outsourcing. Outsourcing involves transferring jobs from inside a firm to outside the firm. Jobs that are typically outsourced include office maintenance, deliveries, food service, and security. However, other job functions can be outsourced as well, including what many banks are doing in the country, they outsource most of their lower level employees, who are in the workplace to develop their career. They did this to cut cost but is ok I doubt it because those employees might feel unsecure and perhaps isolated. These must be taken care in time of change.

Issues of people
Who do we want to work with? How can we find them from both inside and outside a company? How do we get them to want to work with us? How do we know whether they are the kind of people we want?
Management at different companies from different industries know that hiring good workers is vital to their overall success. Achieving the highest level of job satisfaction and dedication among employees is the goal of human resource management, which attracts, develops, and retains the employees who can perform the activities necessary to accomplish organizational objectives. Are we applying the relevant techniques?

Although these are hard questions to pose, they are harder to answer, and learning to live the answer is far harder still. As I look at the practice of business management in The Gambia today, I sometimes think of the way organizations are managed.
We must look at ourselves and each other to find the personal resources we need to do our jobs with courage, trust and smartness. That is where this article, I hope, can be especially useful. I can provide some ideas and some encouragements. But business leaders cannot hope to carry out their responsibilities to employees and investors without first facing the tensions, problems and conflicts associated with organizational leadership of today. This article is for people I know as heroes and heroines. They are the protagonists in the great central drama of our time- the creators of a better workplace and the producers of wealth. But never before has this drama been so shot through with peril, conflict and anxiety. Never before has it been so heightened by raw contingency. And never before have its opportunities- personal and corporate- been so vast, or so potentially rewarding. This is because those in the face of these realities are keen for the battle and determined to win.

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