Topic - Creating a Healthy Environment for Work


By

Deepa Pillai
(Research Scholar, SOM, SASTRA)
Lecturer-Management Studies
AAM Engineering College
Kovilvenni, Thiruvarur Dist, Tamil Nadu
&
Dr. C Vijayabanu
Asst. Professor
School of Management, SASTRA University
Thirumalaisamudram, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
 


Today we have a very dynamic environment. Changes all around! And changes every minute and every second. Of all the things that is permanent and inevitable , the most important is the world of change. Change is the necessary aspect of human life . We see a lot of changes around us – seasonal changes , changes in organizations , changes in biological beings and so on . In spite of  the  permanency of change ,people do resist to changes. 

Mark Twain has once said – "The only person to accept change willingly is a baby with a wet diaper".

The rapidly changing environment has its entire credit on the rate at which inventions and innovations are taking place . In this complex situation in order to survive every organization must cope up with changes.

Many flourishing organizations have left the business grounds and many small units have emerged as corporations .Darwin's theory – " The survival of the fittest" , gain  importance in this context. Those organizations that realized  and utilized the opportunities (changes), have become successful and those that failed, had to meet the consequences. In such a situation it is very important that people do understand the importance and the need for change.

Organizational change is a process by which the organizations  tend to move a from their present state to a desired future  state to increase their effectiveness.

Changes happen in two dimensions:

1. the business dimension – dealing with change from the business point of view- use of new technology , new strategies , expansion of markets etc.
2. the people dimension – deals with making them understand, involving them and motivating them to change.

This paper delves into the people dimension of change only. Of all the resources that the organization deals with the most complex and complicated are the human resources. Human resources are the most important asset to an organization . This is because an organizations distinctive capabilities lies in the skills and abilities of its employees. No one can match the strength of highly charged and motivated people. Each individual is bound by his own beliefs , culture, discipline, norms, attitudes and perceptions. This makes him  complex and very different from other individuals. When talking about incorporation of change in organizations, handling the workforce becomes very important. Here we are dealing with some factors that will help maintain a healthy environment in the process of change.

Now lets have a look into the work environment . The work  environment is composed of two important building blocks :-

1. Inert  Block – Which deals with such things as structure, policies, technology, strategies, capital and tools.

2. The human Block – deals with such things as perceptions, assumptions, resistance, fear ,aspirations beliefs and values.

Now each of the work environment has these two blocks in different combinations giving a unique identity to the work setting of the organization.

It is the human components that bring about all sort of  links, bonds and affiliation  that is needed for the work settings. Without these  dynamic human components, successful integration of various inert components is difficult.

In fact  the people components in an organization serve as bridging agent between themselves and various other inert features of the work environment. Therefore the success and failure of  a change effort depends on these components.

When new initiatives are introduced in to a work environment they create a disruption to the routine process.

The people components are the breeding grounds for the resistances when change initiatives are undertaken. This is because any change would disrupt the status quo of the organization. The higher the result oriented initiative , the larger is the disruption. Most people are reluctant  to disturb their routine behavior.

The reluctance comes from their addiction to various habits ,norms, perceptions etc. Their faithfulness to these habits ,norms and perceptions makes it difficult for successful transformation. This feature is not only seen in the  lower echelons of the organization but also among the various superiors. The reason is that they  themselves lack enough knowledge and tools to deal issues adequately. The powerful influence of the people and their  reactions do have an impact on the successful implementation of change initiatives. Hence it is very   important that the decision makers ensures that the key business solutions encircling the human components are managed effectively.

The people component is therefore to be handled effectively and efficiently. This paper concentrates on four important elements that are necessary to handle people component carefully, fruitfully and successfully through change.

The four  key elements-for leading people successfully through changes are:-

1 Empowerment
2 Leadership
3 Relationship
4 Performance

Let us look into these attributes separately

Empowerment

This is the term used currently to describe a variety of interventions that give more autonomy and an increase in power to subordinates. It in fact acts as a lubricant that facilitates the learning process. Talented and empowered human capital has become an important element of success for every organization.

An operational definition of empowerment says that it is an environment in which people have ability, the confidence and commitment to take the responsibility and ownership to improve the process and initiate the necessary steps to satisfy customer requirements within well defined boundaries in order to achieve organizational values o and goals.

Empowerment has successfully been practiced in the west. But in  India ,its awareness and practice  is comparatively low. There are many reasons that can be attributed to this . The greater diversity in culture and thinking , maturity level , attitudes , the workforce composition etc. have delayed the  understanding and acceptance of empowerment strategy. Empowering people will help to reduce friction and also help in overcoming resistance to change.

The following variables will help to create an empowered environment:

1. Participation of workers in the process of change.
2. freedom to  make decisions.
3. encouragement by the managers.
4. easily approachable  and supportive management.

Benefits of Empowerment.

1. Improving employee commitment.
2. Maximum utilization of the workforce.
3. Making people responsible and accountable.
4. Enhancing personal capabilities.
5. Innovating continuously.
6. Improving productivity.
7. Increasing employee contribution.
8. Increased satisfaction of employees.
9. Reducing employee conflict

II – Leadership

Leadership
is the process whereby one person influences others to achieve a goal. According to George .R. Terry – leadership is the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for group objectives. Most of the writers accept leadership as the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in the efforts towards goal achievement in a given situation. Leadership is considered to be the function of leader, follower and situational variables.

Peter Drucker said " Effective leadership is not about making speech or being liked , leadership is defined by results and not attributes"

Some of the elements of leadership

1. Providing instructions and guidance.
2. Coaching .
3. Developing a bond of trust.
4 Motivating and encouraging.
5. Communication.
6. Exercising control.
7. Meeting the subordinates often

Benefits of Leadership.

1. Getting better results.
2. Maintain good human relations.
3. reducing conflicts and grievances .
4. overcoming resistance.
5. creating an empowered environment.

III Relationship.

This is another important element for effective handling of human resources. Organizations can maximize their results only with the cooperation of the employees. Aiming at maximization , the employers need to understand the workforce pretty well. Good performance in the form of results can be achieved only when they are able to work in a conducive environment . For such an environment its necessary that  a robust relationship exist between employers and employees and that between various groups.

Some elements for establishing a healthy and good relationship are:

1. A healthy and supportive environment
2. Providing them the resources on time   
3. An efficient grievance handling system
4.  Encouraging a two-way communication
5. Building  a bond of trust among them

Benefits of maintaining good relationship in organizations:

1. Job satisfaction
2. Improvement in their individual skills
3. Reduction in labor Turnover
4. High  Morale .             
5 Reducing Absenteeism.

IV. Performance Management.

Today organizations are changing much rapidly than in the past . The focus on performance has become very important in this situation. Performance is in fact the way in which the job or task is done by an individual , a group or an organization. Effective management of these is performance management. It includes activities to ensure that the goals are consistently met , in an effective and efficient manner. It focuses on the performance of the  organization , department, processes etc.

Increasing competition and continual changes in the business environment across the world have seen the growing importance of performance management.

More importance is given to the  aspects of planning, developing, monitoring, rating and rewarding  rather than performance based approaches like measuring and accounting.

According to me there are some  important components that help in enhancing performance. It's a must that every organizations give importance to these aspects. They are :

1. Objectives to be made clear.
2. Proper instructions and directions.
3. Hygienic environment.
4. Proper feedback.
5. Impartial and defect free appraisal system.
6. Good reward system.
7. Recognition for work.
8. Supportive Management.

Benefits of performance management.

1. Helps in comparing actual performance.
2. Provides feedback on performance.
3. Rewards performance.
4. Identifies non performers.
5. Reduces conflict.
6. Improves human relations .

Conclusion:

To
wards the end I would like to say these four  elements –empowerment , leadership,  relationship and performance management are important elements contributing to the environment of the organization . Without these variables its very difficult to achieve a conducive environment in which people perform the organizational tasks. Empowerment gives freedom to work. This improves  their initiatives and skills. The presence of  a good  leader helps to guide and instruct the work force in a better manner. This improves their attitude towards work. Better relationship builds  up their attachment and belongingness towards the organization. This is  an important aspect as this  helps in developing a loyal, dedicated, motivated and productive workforce. Performance improves their productivity. As such these four elements can be considered as the essential elements of environment, contributing to its success. These are also considered as   pillars of success for both enhancing competitiveness and for organizational development . Keeping a close watch at these variable would help the organization in maintaining its competitiveness.

References:

1. Organization Development and transformation, by French , Bell, Zawacki, McGraw Hill international edition, 2000.

2. Organizational Theory ,Design ,and Change, By Gareth .R. Jones, Pearson Education,2004.

3. Organizational behaviour, Hellreigel, Slocum, Woodman,8th edition ,South western College Publishing.

4. www.1000ventures.com.

5. www.businessranks.com

6. Journal of management and change, volume 8 No.1 & 2 (2004) Harmonizing Stability &change by enlivening creative intelligence. By Dennis .P. Heatson.
 


Deepa Pillai
(Research Scholar, SOM, SASTRA)
Lecturer-Management Studies
AAM Engineering College
Kovilvenni, Thiruvarur Dist, Tamil Nadu
&
Dr. C Vijayabanu
Asst. Professor
School of Management, SASTRA University
Thirumalaisamudram, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
 

Source: E-mail January 9, 2007

     

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