Organization Change

Abstract

Change is as good as rest. It is a common cliché with application in literature and in the corporate world. The business world remains dynamic, with changes constantly taking place. In most cases, external market conditions and internal business operations are always responsible for the change that always occurs.  When this change takes place because of market conditions, it is the role of managers to implement strategies, which allow enhance systematic change.  In some unfortunate situations, this change does not happen effectively because of the absence of a roadmap towards the envisaged destination. Oftentimes, some employees of the company may be a disappointment when they fail to become change agents as expected. This means that anyone can resist change including the beneficiaries of the change in question. However, experts in organization change have made it possible to achieve change by formulating a series of strategies. One of these approaches is Kotter’s 8-Step model.  In this paper, we shall explore various change management strategies and ways in which Aon Hewitt could employ them for effective change management.

Organization Change

Introduction

Due to the ever-changing business environment, most organizations adapt to change to remain relevant in their functions. Most business organizations change to remain firm, and prevent adversities, which arise with change. Moreover, changes in the business continue to affect the positions of stakeholders in order to be in harmony with new approaches in various business operations. For this, organization have no choice  but to consider radical changes that foster growth an stability amid competitive  forces, stemming from globalization, deregulation and technological change. While there is need for organizations to consider a wide range of change possibilities, the first is a change of the environment in which the business operates. There are many ways in which organizations bring about change and how they do business. These include, change in operational methodology, mergers, change in technology, and relocation.

Change also occur in business because of changes in political sphere, and natural calamities like earthquakes and civil wars among other factors. Among other changes that   such alterations bring about are decrease or increase in currency value, which in turn compel organizations to consider new ways of doing things. In a situation where the value of money is unstable, it becomes impossible for organizations to   determine trends in the stock market thus paralyzing the operations. Anther change like entry of new players and substitutes may for a company to implement other change strategies like market penetration to deal with stiff competition (Harigopal, 2006).

It is doubtless that organizational operations are always in line with the change environment, as this emanates from numerous factors. In order to realize change and manage it successfully, it is important to apply change management strategies. Change management simply denotes strategies, which an organization adopts and implements to adjust to alterations in the internal and external business environment (Harigopal, 2006).  Kotter’s eight steps of change management offer approaches on how to manage change in any organization. The model is so practical that it can offer solutions to different organizations regardless of area of operation. This paper applies the model to Aon Hewett, a consultancy company.

Company overview

Aon Hewitt was initially named, Hewitt Associates. It provides human capital in the United States and management consultancy. Aon Hewitt is multinational and operates in 120 countries worldwide with 500 offices, which offer a range of services like insurance, consultancy and outsourcing. Aon Hewitt started in 1940 as Hewitt Associates. In 2010, Aon Corporation acquired the company. Following the acquisition, Hewitt merged with Aon to become a subsidiary of Aon Associates, and was named Aon Hewitt (Hewitt Associates, 2012).

In recent years, Aon Hewitt has adopted policies aimed at finding solutions to several companies around the globe. Its headquarters are in Lincolnshire Illinois or Northern Suburbs of Chicago. The company prides in having expansive and effective values to its clients. The company highly values accommodating the needs of its customers by consolidating the talents of different associates to better the business environment. For the sake of winning and maintaining customer loyalty, the company upholds principles of honesty and integrity. Thus, the corporation prioritizes the needs of its clients and endeavors to have a perfect working environment for its employees to ensure they produce sterling products. Hewitt Associates further believes in teamwork for effective performance. It has good blend of its domestic and global organizational standards to meet the needs and expectations of its clients and staff. The company also tops in market segmentation through proper adjusting of operations to meet the demands of the market (Associated Press, 2009).

Additionally, Aon Hewitt provides software solutions to customers to eliminate inconveniences, which may arise and become complicated for employees. Its Human Resource department remains a pillar towards its success as it cements the relationships among employees, thus enhancing reliability. Because of this, the organization ensures that every client receives authentic information for operational standards. Aon Hewitt also complies with all government regulations for effective structuring of the HR principles, anchored on wholesome safety of clients. At Aon Hewitt, the organizational structure has two HR resolutions, which work together to meet clients’ needs, making them a major player in the market. Thus, the company has sections of human resource outsourcing and consulting (Associated Press, 2009).

The Cause of Implementing Change

In understanding Aon Hewitt’s change management, it is worth noting that most of its employees were used to the structures of Hewitt Associates banner. Under this, employees adhered to a top-down communication, and the management addressed their needs satisfactorily.  Nonetheless, the company was not registering exemplary performance. For example, the company lacked the capacity to address consultancy needs of clients worldwide. In addition, it was necessary for the company to diversify its main services in order to capture a huge clientele in the market. Besides outsourcing and consultancy, the company also wanted to venture into insurance. Thus, the company wanted to market itself worldwide as a reliable global brand with solutions to problems facing organizations worldwide. To achieve this, Aon Hewitt needed to merge with a company with the capacity to meet international standards. For such, Aon Corporation was the best option, since it had good reputation and proper infrastructure. However, the organization was to undergo a structural overhaul to align with the operations of AON. This would encompass introduction of new information technology to deal with the capacity and equipment for employees to attend to increased workload (Hewitt Associates, 2012).

Even though these proposed were for the good of the company, employees resisted in the beginning. Many foresaw a change in working systems, which was likely to affect their normal working procedures. Many believed that they would be exposed to long working hours, more workload and too much stress to bear. The basis of this argument was that employees would be expected to work extra hard because of newly introduced services. Additionally, they feared losing jobs through the envisage restructuring. Because of the imminent shift, many employees suffered psychological and physical problems. If the company had addressed this problem early enough, many would have quit their jobs. Consequently, the company would have experienced high turnover and extra expenditure to hire and train other employees.

While the organization has realized massive growth, it is yet to gain tangible profits. For example, it has not recorded profits even though it has registered high sales in recent years. Thus, the organization has no other option but to implement effective change that would guarantee maximum profit. On the other hand, employees at Aon Hewitt have no idea about issues relating to the vision of the organization. Because of this, they have expressed their displeasure for the being left in darkness on important operational information. This is why the company requires n effective change strategy, which will ensure that employees appreciate the change by supporting innovative activities and ideas of the organization (The New York Times, 2010). To achieve this, Aon Hewitt should apply the following Kotter’s 8-step change management model.

Kotters’ Eight-Step Approach

From the analysis in the previous segments, it is evident that AON Hewitt intends to initiate change in most of its operations owing to ever-changing business environment. While these changes will have tremendous effects on the company’s employees, they are reluctant to support their idea. It is also clear that by now AON Hewitt has undergone huge structural and operational changes. Because of this change, what was known as Hewitt Associates is today Aon Hewitt Organization. Thus, AON Hewitt needs to apply a change management theory in order effect its operations. In this context, Kotter’s 8-step model of change management is a paramount tool. In the model, John Kotter emphasizes the need for effective leadership in order to realize successful change management. The theory has eight steps, which organizations have to use (Wember, 2012). By applying this theory, AON Hewitt will tame employee resistance and achieve its goal. The following sections give explanations to the eight steps on how to apply them in change management.

Creation of Urgency

This is the initial and most important stage of change management. It sets the pace of the change process, thus any organization that adopts this model must approach keenly. There is need for the management to initiate serious dialogue about the issue of change since 75% of the organization must be in agreement with the idea in order to claim victory (Stamm, 2010). As such, the management of AON Hewitt must single out threats, which are likely to harm the organization if it does not implement change. Some of these could a drop in the price of stocks and the possible loss of jobs by some employees. In addition, AON should explore the opportunities that will arise if the company adopts change. Some of these opportunities may include but not limited to better services, higher salaries, and an increase in the market share. To create this sense of urgency, the organization should ensure that vital information reaches concerned employees. In some cases, the union may consult an external market analyst to make the message of urgency clearer.

Formation of a Powerful Guiding Coalition

Aon Hewitt should consider having a few people to kick-start the process of change just as other organizations worldwide do. Importantly, a visible group within the company has to be behind the change. Thus, Hewitt could consider drawing members of different personalities to form this group. Of great significance would be the pool of experts at the firm, including IT specialists, HR gurus, and management experts among others. These groups should form the foundation of the coalition group. Importantly, the group should work as a team in order to carry on the momentum sparked in the first stage (Stamm, 2010). Moreover, members of the  guiding collation ought to be true leaders with commitment towards the course of bringing change to AON Hewitt.  The company should also employ team-building approaches to cement inter-personal relationship among members.

Creating a Vision

For a change to be convincing, it must have successful and appealing dream that is achievable. The management of AON Hewitt should therefore communicate these expectations to all stakeholders to seek their support on the change initiative. At anytime, an organization should have a change mission that prioritizes the needs of customers through decision-making and embark on having stable employee-clientele relationships.  Thus, this change would lessen the work of employees by strengthening their relationships with customers. This would be an added benefit for employees, as they will face minimal or no challenges when serving customers (Wember, 2012).

While employees are concerned with losing their jobs in the event of AON acquisition, it is equally important for them to appreciate that Hewitt Associates in its current state would not add value to them. Thus, they need to embrace a change to have the company operate under AON Inc., which is among leading brands around the globe. In this case, Hewitt will ride on already existing irrefutable record of accomplishment and employees who are worried about losing jobs would be deployed in other departments. It is necessary for the vision-bearers to practice it through speech and capture it succinctly by the change coalition in the second stage of the model.

 Communicating the Vision

What a company does with the vision, determine the success story of the change process. Through communication, everyone in the organization will read from the same script. However, there is always competition when a company is choosing the appropriate communication channel. For this reason, the in charge must pass across the message aggressively (Stamm, 2010).  To achieve better results, the management should have a forum, through which it can pass the message of change to other stakeholders.  To do this, the management should use the opportunities envisaged to convince others. This communication has to be a daily process to ensure that it remains fresh in people’s minds and cause them to react. Above all, the management will have to be in the forefront and lead by example. However, the leadership of AON should endeavor to respond to all the concerns and anxiety that may arise during communication. They should explain to employees what is expected of them in terms of behavior.

Removing Obstacles

Change does not come easily. Organizations are bound to experience resistance from all quarters. Nevertheless, in cases where there are no impediments towards change then the management can avoid this stage. From experience, there is always high possibility of resistance and the management should leave no obstacle. For better experience, the organization should have change structures. This would ensure that the results of change are within some parameters (Stamm, 2010). Moreover, Hewitt should consider hiring change experts, who should work with all employees to realize positive outcome of the change. The experts should also have a wealth of knowledge in mergers and acquisitions for effective implementation of change. Where possible, employees who oppose the change should give way by surrendering their positions. Such workers should get enough time to adjust to the changes, and be removed if their resistance persists. Importantly, the organization should recognize those steering the change process and reward them. During this process of obstacle removal, the company should scrutinize its structure and ensure that it is in harmony with Hewitt’s structure. Hewitt should identify similarities in structure with AON, including job groups and descriptions to allow easy assimilation of its employees with out redundancy. Through this alignment of structures of AON and Hewitt, the management will eliminate worries and anxieties, thus removing obstacles.

Creating Short-term Wins

Nothing motivates any initiative like success. Thus, Aon Hewitt should have keen interest in identifying and rewarding such wins. It should create short-term goals instead of having excess attention on long-term achievements. This will allow employees to taste the fruits of successful change management without waiting for so long (Stamm, 2010).  The company should realize increased market size through a systematic approach. Firstly, the company could consider operating under AON brand in its original structures. This will be a boost for Hewitt since Aon has a sizeable market share with global recognition, making it an avenue to with support for the change. To motivate employees who oppose the change process, the organization ought not to sack anyone of them. During the same period, employees from the two organizations could be merged in order to test their compatibility in working together. In establishing short-term wins, which is important for the change process, the management should mind the merits and demerits of the cause. Above all, the company should reward every employee involved in the process.

Building on the Change

One of the reasons why some change management projects fail is early declaration of victory. Thus, AON Hewitt should avoid being a victim since the main aim is to realize long-term goals progressively. In addition, aligning the structures of Hewitt and AON will not take a single day but a stepwise process with wins at every level as the company grows. At this stage, the management should evaluate the success and flops of its operations under the new system, and implement necessary changes, which are in line with the findings of the analysis. For instance, the management could develop operational goals to ensure that enough energy goes into attainment of set goals. To keep change ideas fresh, the management should always introduce new ideas and rejuvenated change agents (Wember, 2012).

Anchoring the Changes to the Corporate Structure

The company should consider having permanent change impact. Thus, the change ought to be part of corporate culture. This implies that change should the talk and action of every stakeholder of the company. Finally, there is need of making the change process public (Wember, 2012).

Conclusion

Aon Hewitt was formed following a merger of Aon Corporations and Hewitt Associates. Upon this merger, employees felt the impact because of corporate restructuring of the organization. There was resistance towards this management change mainly because of the fear of increased workload, unpredictable new management and loss of jobs. Because AON Hewitt cannot avoid these changes, it is necessary to adopt systematic change management strategies. This paper has elaborated the application of Kotter’s eight-step change management model.

 

References

Associated Press. (2009). Ahead of the Bell: Hewitt Associates upgraded. Retrieved August 02, 2013, from Associated Press: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/11/11/business-business-and-professional-services-us-hewitt-associates-ahead-of-the-bell_7110562.html

Harigopal, K. (2006). Management of organizational change. New York: Sage.

Hewitt Associates. (2012). Hewitt: Overview . Retrieved August 02, 2013, from Hewitt Associates LLC: http://www.hewittassociates.com/Intl/NA/en-US/AboutHewitt/WhoWeAre

Stamm, P. (2010). Change Management: The Analysis of J.P. Kotter’s eight steps. Munchen: Verlag.

The New York Times. (2010). Aon Buys Hewitt in Move to Expand Its Consulting Arm. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/business/13insure.html

Wember, T. (2012). Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from Leadership Thoughts: http://www.leadershipthoughts.com/knowledge-articles/kotters-8-step-change-model/

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