With the highly evolving business environment, businesses around the world engage in constant change. In order to enhance effective business operations and management, businesses need to develop the best approaches to manage and communicate change. According to Savaneviciene and Stankeviciute (2011), change management requires the coordination between top level managers and the first-line managers. However, the two lines of management have different roles in terms of change strategies and management. While the top management is concerned with the strategic direction of the entire organisation, the first-line management is concerned with tactical approaches to effecting change.
The top management is responsible for communicating the change of strategic direction in the organisation, while the first-level management is responsible for management of daily activities that are intended to create change. In other words, the top managers set goals and objectives, and change those goals and objectives regularly depending on changes in the business environment. As the top managers set new goals as part of a continuous change process, the first-line managers interact with the employees on a daily basis and influence their task performance in order to achieve the changing direction of the organisation. The first-line managers make decisions that influence change in the way tasks are performed at the workplace.
Strategic plan for change is also developed by the top management, while the first-line managers manage activities that are involved in the implementation of such plans (Pugh & Mayle, 2009). The strategic plans for change includes setting goals that are linked to organisational objectives, describes how they are going to be implemented, and specifying the human resource requirements for implementation. Once the top managers develop this strategic plan, the first-line managers guide the employees to implement the activities that will enable the company to attain its goals. This involves coordination, effective change communication, negotiation with employees, motivation and supervision.
An example of a balanced approach to change is striving to improve the perception of customers about the services offered by the company while at the same time aligning the business activities with strategic vision and overall objectives of the organisation. While attempting to provide superior services and win the trust and loyalty of customers, employees may fail to live up to the financial requirements and culture of the organisation. A change to improve customer perception may require the organisation to change one or more of its internal processes, which may lead to a different outcome that may be contrary to the business objectives of the organization (Pugh & Mayle, 2009). Service operations within the organisation are supervised by first-line managers who also communicate with customers. Change management in a balanced approach should therefore be implemented uniformly from the internal process to the point of communication with customers. This ensures that the perspectives of customers are changed while at the same time aligning internal processes with the strategic direction of the organisation.
Achieving this balanced approach to change management requires the top managers to communicate the strategic vision and objectives of the organisation to the first-line managers who then guide employees and support them to change the internal processes in a way that the perceptions of customers are changed but they are still aligned to the strategic objectives of the organisation.
DuBrin, A.J. Essentials of Management. 6th ed. Peterborough, Ontario: Thomson South-Western.
Pugh, D.S., & Mayle, D. (2009). Change management. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Savaneviciene, A., & Stankeviciute, Z. (2011). The Interaction between Top Management and Line Managers Implementing Strategic Directions into Praxis. Engineering Economics, 22( 4), 412-422.