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middle managers role in strategy implementation

The human capital management is a big issue in Textile and Garments industries

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middle managers role in strategy implementation

  1. 1. Assignment Student Name: NAFIS CHOWDHURY Student ID: 13313106018 Course Name: HUMAN Capital Development Course Code: GM523 Program: Master in Textile and Clothing Management Campuslocation: Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea Submitted to Dr. Charle Hang
  2. 2. Submission Date: 17/11/2015 1: How and why do middle managers support and resist strategic change? Introduction: A view expressed by Floyd and Wooldridge (1994: p.48) defined middle management and the middle manager as: “the coordinator between daily activities of the units and the strategic activities of the hierarchy.” They stress the middle manager’s role as “a link, a tie between top managers and operational workers ... more thanthe ‘hierarchical’ definitions” (as cited in Vogler, 2007). This view applies across a wide range organizationtypes and organization context. The middle management role in strategy execution remains a critical issue in the success of strategic initiatives. Middle managers, or that group of people located between the senior management team and frontline workers, are often seen as the crucial audience in strategy implementation. However, this layer is also the most at risk during any restructuring or downsizing initiative. We aim to discuss and critically evaluate the why middle managers resist and support strategic change and how middle managers support and resist strategic change, before concluding as to what situational pressures can cause middle managers to support or resist change. First of all it is imperative to understand why strategic change takes place within organisations; many infer strategic change arises as organisations try to cope with “continual alteration, evolution and… revolution” in the environment. Such authors go further in offering explanations into how strategic change is implemented through the use of middle management. It is well knownthat middle managers’ hold great importance as they act simultaneously as change recipients; absorbing change and as change implementers; applying change. However, such changes such as the flattering of organisational structures have seen middle managers as obsolete with many adopting the phrase ‘The death of middle management’. Middle managers resist to strategic change: Researches into middle managers experience with change, several reasons are put forward as to why middle managers resist strategic change. The most occurring and prevalent theme across literature is the increased work pressures. Work pressures such as ‘larger workloads; increased insecurity and surveillance; replacement of permanent by temporary contracts; and a decline in ‘life-time’ employment’, can lead to anxiety, stress, emotional dissonance and a feeling of uncertainty. Uncertainty occurs in situations of ambiguity, whereby information provided is inconsistent, within the definition of uncertainty Brashers (2001) describes the role of uncertainty management as a need to lessen uncertainty comes from the incentive to communicate. As middle managers struggle to facilitate communication and provide support between senior management and employees, resistance can arise in the
  3. 3. form of uncertainty. Often referred to as role conflict. What can be inferred is that the absence of support and communication during the pre-implementation process of change and the implementation of change can hinder middle managers’ uncertainty management and essentially the way they deal with change. It seems to be general knowledge that change is often resisted though a top-down change approach because within this approach change is imposed by senior management, with little consideration of those within the change process hence why middle managers experience greater uncertainty and are disillusioned in a top-down change approach. Resistance to change is often seen as negative and as something that needs to be resolved and/or minimised. It is observed that resistance from middle managers can lead to higher intentions to leave, lower levels of commitment and a demotivated attitude towards change, as middle managers distance themselves from the process of change. All of which are described as features of resistance to change. This is supported by recent work by Thornthwaite and McGraw (2012) who recognises that middle managers may resist change “passively” by resigning, or waiting to be forced out. A number of reasons have been identified to why and how middle managers resist change. The literature studied above acknowledges the importance of middle managers as negotiators between the organisations strategic and operational levels’. However it is also argues that middle managers act as barriers to change by distancing themselves from the processes of change and by resigning or waiting to be forced out of the organisation. The overriding reason for this presented across literature is the due to the increased workload and commitment required from them. The middle managers find themselves locked in silos (functional, geographic, business line, etc.) and the dynamics of the system keeps them at a distance from each other. With time and with increasing complex hierarchical and matrix structures, the dispersion increases and some managers may find themselves isolated and unsupported. The most common reasons why middle managers resist change are-  Loss of status or job security in the organization  Non-reinforcing reward systems  Surprise and fear of the unknown  Peer pressure  Climate of mistrust  Organizational politics
  4. 4.  Fear of failure  Lack of tact or poor timing Middle managers support to strategic change: Many case studies have acknowledged that change is more successful and supported by middle managers when a bottom up change approach is implemented. This is because middle managers feel involved engaged and motivated within the change process. This is further supported by the classification of middle managers as creators, designers and implementers. Research showed that middle managers who had strategic involvement as Creators and Designers were more certain about the role within the change process and thus more likely to support strategic change within the organisation. Although in some cases it is noted that while some middle managers who experienced increased responsibility, greater autonomy and ‘up skilling’ during periods of structural changes were more likely to support change, this was only in relation to reward such as improved bonuses and salaries. Middle managers also support change in different ways. A commonfeature across literature for the support of change is communication. Research shows that middle managers stress the importance of “communications and the provision of information” to fellow employees in achieving organisational change. This is reflected in a 2006 study, whereby middle managers communicated at different stages of the change initiatives, described as ‘Pre-implementation communication with employees’ and during the Implementation. Middle managers manage aspects of work by “networking” also described as “peer interaction”. In these two examples middle managers were able to hear and share ideas and interact with other managers across departments and regions. Although literature discussed stresses the increased workload for middle managers, it is noted that middle managers also experience greater autonomy and are able to support change by undertaking research to increase the success rate of change initiatives. Further allowing middle managers understand the goals and need of strategic change and reiterating this to employees.
  5. 5. However middle managers also support change, with many recognising the need for change in ensuring the successfulness/growth of the organisation. Thus many middle managers are motivated to the idea of change and this is made apparent in the increase of middle managers communication links between senior management and employees and developing support networks; increasing the level of interaction across levels of the organisation. Conclusion: The middle managers have a crucial role in a successful implementation of strategic changes. Due to their interaction with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders they can provide top management with useful insights related to strategy definition. Their knowledge of the organization and business processes is helpful in defining the right planning of strategic changes. Moreover, middle managers are the key drivers in motivating their teams and translating the strategic direction into practices that make strategy happen. Based on the literature and this research, we conclude that middle management’s role in strategic changes can vary depending on the organizational context, the relational focus and the phase of the strategic change. Middle managers canplay different roles, but all of them can be categorized in one of the three main role types abstracted from the literature: the Implementer, the Networker or the Sense-maker. If we look at the development of middle management’s role in strategic changes we canconclude that it follows the development of the strategic process. Normative and theoretical research opportunities remain to be developed by researchers who should take into account the attributes of the situation, factors driven by management, and topics and approaches not yet fully explored by the research community. The possession of excellent ‘soft skills’ by middle managers is a hugely important aspect of their role. These soft skills are essential for the smooth execution of strategic change and implementation. These findings concur with Hardy (1996) who argues that to overcome the shortcomings regarding an organisational strategy, middle managers must be capable of acting politically and using their power. Hardy (1996) declares that power is needed to orchestrate and direct actions that are crucial to the realisation of strategic goals within organisations appear to conclude that middle managers have little influence on the choice of strategy adopted by their organisation. It may be that not every middle manager should aspire to be top managers because their own role as middle manager is unique in it and therefore has a very important place within the structure of an organisation. A wise middle manager, acting with integrity and possessing the necessary soft skills can pave the way for a smooth transition of strategic change and implementation which may be crucial to the outcomes of their organisation.
  6. 6. References: 1.Senior, B. and Swailes, S. (2010) Organizational Change. 4th Ed, Harlow: FT Prentice Hall Conway, E. and Monks. K. (2011) Change from below: the role of middle managers in mediating paradoxical change. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(2): 190-203. 2.McCann, L., Morris, J. and Hassard, J. (2008) "Normalized Intensity: The New Labour Process of Middle Management." Journal of Management Studies 45(2): 343-371 3.Sharyn E. Herzig and Nerina L. Jimmieson, (2006) "Middle managers' uncertainty management during organizational change", Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 27 (8): 628 – 645) 4.Balogun, J., Bartunek, J., and Do, B. (2010) Uncovering relationships and shared emotion beneath senior managers’ resistance to strategic change, Academy Of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, pp. 1-6. 5.Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J.H., Fisch, R. (1974) Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. New York: Norton. 6.Floyd, S.W. and Wooldridge, B. (1997) Middle management’s strategic influence and organizational performance, Journal of Management Studies, 34 (3), pp.465–485. 7.Inamdar, S., Osland, A., and Wells, P. (2010) Restructuring with the middle-management advantage, The Health Care Manager, 29 (4), pp. 305-317. 8.Huy, Q.N. (2002) Emotional balancing of organizational continuity and radical change: the contribution of middle managers, Administrative Science Quarterly, 47 (1), pp.31–69. 9. W. Christian Buss,” PERCEPTIONS OF EUROPEAN MIDDLE MANAGERS OF THEIR ROLE IN STRATEGIC CHANGE” 10.Patricia Braaf, ‘’the role of middle management in change management programmes’’ 11.Heini Ikävalko and Petri Aaltonen, ‘Middle Managers’ Role in Strategy Implementation - Middle Managers View’ 12. Ahmad Salih1 & Yvonne Doll1, ‘’A Middle Management Perspective on Strategy Implementation’’, from International Journal of Business and Management 13. Rosalie Kuyvenhovenand W. Christian Buss, ‘A normative view of the role of middle management in the implementation of strategic change’ from Journal of Management and Marketing Research