Change is believed to be an inevitable process as it affects every aspect of life. However, managing change has never been a simple issue for many people. The reason for this is the fact that the process of change is complex and involving. One must strive to change people’s thoughts or their mentality first. Thereafter, he or she must attune their behavior according to the change demands and finally, change their environment. Unless these three steps in the context of change are realized, the craved change would remain a mere mirage. In fact, numerous societies are behind in development. The reason for this is not that people do not want to develop or because they do not know what to do to develop, but simply they are not ready to align their behaviors basing on the ‘rider’. This means that their actions do not conform to the requirements of where they want to go, how to act and what destination to pursue. Eventually, they find themselves in one spot even if they had the potential and the requisite knowledge to achieve what they have always wished. In fact, the difference between successful people, organizations, governments, among others, and unsuccessful ones lies not in their aptitude but in their ability to manage change. The first usually find it comfortable and joyful to perpetuate old traditions. This is what makes them resistant to change as they view it as an interferent in their comfort zone. However, what they forget when they try to refrain the changes thus terming their development is that their traditions were also initiated by someone and practiced consistently until they became a norm. Successful ones often take advantage of the changing times and environments to embrace changes for the betterment of their lives and that of the future generations. They always believe in the fact that ‘resistance to change is what inhibits progress. To illustrate the dynamics revolving around change management, this essay describes the change situation using a case study involving an elementary academy in Boston, Massachusetts.
In the recent past, businesses of schools (academies) have become a lucrative venture in many parts of the United States. In that effect, they have attracted innumerable private entrepreneurs who have viewed the field as viable to invest in. However, management of this kind of business to fruition has been a big challenge to a number of proprietors as it is marred by multifarious undercurrents. In fact, the most interesting thing is that owners and other people surrounding them are often very resistant to change even if that change may bring dividends. The Little Angels Academy in Boston is an example of schools that have adamant management systems that require radical change if smooth progression is anything to conform.
The proprietor of this academy, Mr Pablo had great passion for quality education. This obliged him to send all his four children to private schools right from elementary to tertiary levels. This was the time when the quality of standards in public institutions began to drop. Many parents of his kind never hesitated to seek alternatives to cushion their children from the consequences of poor education standards. Following the excellent performance that his children posed in nearly all the levels of the education, Mr. Pablo got the inspiration to instigate an academy within their expansive home in the suburbs of Boston. To him, this was the only gift that he would give back to the community and as his contribution to the ultimate development of the nation.
The initial stage of the school was easy to manage following the insignificant turn out of pupils. This meant that Pablo and his wife Mildred marshaled the teaching and managerial tasks. However, as the years went, the school enrolment also became inflated. This compelled Mr. Pablo to source and recruit formal staff members to render services pertaining to curriculum implementation, as well as subsidiary services that are related to school set ups. Though this is what for him and his wife had for long been the vision, the realization of it was not without difficulties. Management of the fiscal and human resources soon became tricky and inundating. The duo had to learn to juggle between these imperative roles while seeking to satisfy their esteemed clients, pupils, and subsequently, parents.
Mr. Pablo is basically charged with the responsibility of general management of the school including hiring and orientation of teachers as well as other staff members. He also remunerates the staff, makes all necessary purchases alongside with procuring all tenders to the school. It should not be forgotten that Pablo also chairs the school management committee, as well as conducts the admission of new entrants. He accomplishes all these activities by himself, and he has never seen a need to delegate some responsibilities to increase efficiency.
The school faces numerous issues related to inefficiency due to the single handedness in Mr. Pablo’s managerial roles. This would result in him ignoring certain sections of the entity as he pays attention only to what matters to him and that is the financial sphere. Consequently, dissatisfied clients have severally confronted him expressing their displeasure and threatening to withdraw their children from the school ans send them to other academies. Infatuated with ‘fear of the unknown’, Pablo finds it difficult to embrace change that would bring order and merit in the system hence augmenting productivity. In fact, according to him, change might scare clients since they are used to the current tradition.
In addition, Mr. Pablo often procrastinates in his duties, especially when it comes to rendering his services to the staff. His first priority in the school is usually the pupils while staff comes last. Such a tactics has resulted into numerous grumbles among his staff, which sometimes engages a go-slow because they are demotivated. Furthermore, Pablo noticed that due to a wide range of his duties, he has become inaccurate over time. There have been emerging complaints from parents and his staff relating to inconsistencies in computation on the receipts and pay slips respectively. While the former complained of being overcharged in some occasions, the latter complained of being shortchanged in their agreed remuneration scale. The situation has elicited numerous criticisms about the school, and he has been occasionally accosted by some parents and teachers because of these errors. Mr. Pablo also admits refuting their recommendation for him to employ an accountant as he fears being defrauded by skilled accountants. He believes in doing the job himself and perfects it by learning from his own mistakes.
In addition to that, Mr. Pablo is very secretive and does not trust easily. He admits that since the inception of his academy, he has never assigned his managerial duties to any person other than his family members and mostly his teenage children. He holds the same belief that people from out can easily conspire against his dream and thwart it. Worst of it is that his children are typical amateurs in handling affairs of the institution. In fact, this has been another source of irritation to teachers as well as parents. First, they completely lack work etiquette in handling clientele and staff. In most cases, they would boss around and harass some members of staff threatening them with sacking if they resisted their orders. Parents also frequently complain of being handled discourteously and with no regard to their significance to the school.
All these reservations have brought the Little Angels Academy to near collapse. The turnover of teachers and pupils has become rampant as the school’s initial fabulous reputation has been totally tainted. Most parents have compelled to withdraw their confidence in the school and relocate their children to other schools.
Analysis of the Situation (Switch Framework)
Directing the Rider
As a concerned stakeholder in education within this county, I have made efforts to formulate an action change plan for Mr. Pablo. This is anchored on the ‘Switch Framework’ proposed by Heath and Heath (2011). This is the mechanism that suffices to bring change in a situation when change is completely difficult. The changes are guided in striking a balance between the rational and emotional systems of the mind as one focuses on the real problem (Heath & Heath, 2011). I engaged Pablo in a dialogue with the aim of learning about his initial plan to establish a business in form of a school. This was the stage of directing the rider, entailing and establishing where one wishes to go, how to act on that very wish, and what destination to pursue. I also sought to know the motto, mission and vision embodied in the school’s philosophy. In the course of the interview, I interrogated Mr. Pablo about his managerial skills and whether they were conventional or merely individually fabricated. He was to explain why he had to employ staff and whether the school could effectively work without them. Mr. Pablo also shed light on the future of the institution including the time of his demise or that of his wife Mildred. He clearly demonstrated his wish for the school would to continue operating even in his absence. Finally, I asked Mr. Pablo to explain the official role of his children in the management of the school and whether there are clear cut lines between them and the members of staff. He was also asked to state categorically what he would do differently in case he was determined to salvage the situation. These acts would guide us to a journey towards the total change of the tradition that is otherwise detrimental to this institution.
Motivating the Elephant
According to Heath & Heath (2011), this is the state that usually provides the requisite energy to propel the rider towards the intended destination. In my discourse with Mr. Pablo, I recapped on his need to consider the aspect of delegating responsibilities in his entity. I cited credible sources and provided examples of renowned institutions as bright spots in the education sector within and outside the country. Pablo acknowledged that his fears about employing extra staff, especially the accountant, were unfounded. Asking whether that would infringe the expenditure of the school, I sought to substantiate how efficiency can boost the regular income of a business. This efficiency is only realized when roles are distinctly and effectively executed by professionals who are trained and skilled in the field.
Furthermore, Mr. Pablo pegged his fears for delegation on mistrust. He claimed that he found it quite difficult to trust a stranger with his treasure. I had to challenge him that even in his former career as auditor of public accounts, he had been trusted. He admitted that while working at that position, he had indeed been entrusted with a number of monetary matters, which he executed perfectly and satisfactorily. This means that clear structures had been stipulated to curb any mischief. We also reached consensus that division of labor would release him from the trouble of having to be jerk of all trades and crumble the institution the time he would be forced by circumstances to be away. Therefore, he agreed to take the step of ensuring clear cut roles between the staff members and hiring more staff to perform some of the roles that have not been assigned to anyone, such as school’s principal, deputy principal, accountant, storekeeper, among others.
Shaping the Path
The path implies the environment, in which the change is envisaged to take effect (Heath & Heath, 2011). This process entails improving the general conduciveness of the environment of the school, as well as checking on the welfare of the staff. The issue of motivation of staff also featured prominently in the dialogue. Pablo admitted that he actually did not much to appreciate his staff apart from the usually delayed salaries and wages. His employees have been forced to trek long distances to and from the school even when the school offered transport to pupils. He alluded that teachers ought to organize for their private transport to school though he acknowledges that this arrangement had seriously inconvenienced pupils who would sometimes arrive ahead of the teachers. He says they were forced to study on their own when teachers would also have left in the evening. In regard to this issue, it would be necessary for him to identify what he can do in addition to salaries as a way of appreciating his staff more. This may range from giving them house allowance, responsibility allowances, overtime, leaves, among others.
Similarly, Mr. Pablo needed to institutionalize his school by ensuring it operated formally in line with the conventional routine, policies and values that are expected in any school set up. Following this, he had no option other than barring his children from active participation in the school’s management. If he must incorporate them, then they also should be regarded as school workers, and their roles plus remuneration should be clearly defined. They should be put under the relevant authority, which will assign them with duties and appraise their performance. This would eliminate cases of excessive violation of etiquette and promote order and rapport among all members of staff working for the common goal.
In spite of that, in the course of our discussion, I advised Pablo to strive to safeguard his legacy from jeopardy by ensuring that he lays down formal structures and proper policies to nurture his dream to reality. No matter how great is the dream, if one does not have the right knowledge and skills to transform it into reality, the vision may forever remain a mirage.
Finally, since the school has downrightly depicted a dire need for a manager, Mr. Pablo would be obliged to hire a qualified and experienced manager to execute all the roles that he has been executing. This would give him ample time to take a holiday or even attend to other family matters. Although he still sounded adamant towards this recommendation, he saw much sense in it since it would help propagate efficiency in the school’s operations.
Rallying the Herd
Since change cannot be accomplished by an individual alone, one needs to mobilize the associates or accolade to help in effecting it. These are referred to as ‘herd’ in the Switch framework (Heath & Heath, 2011). In order to transform this academy to success, the proprietor should strongly consider employing a professional to manage his institution. The school’s community should also make use of bright spots in the society. These are credible examples of private learning institutions, which have flourished on the management of professional managers. They should learn from their management and adopt some ideas, which can suffice to revamp this institution. As a proprietor, Pablo should play an oversight role for his workers, but he should not be involved in day-to-day running of the school activities. In turn, the staff will perceive him to be meddling and micromanaging them. Such behavior hinders them from unleashing their full potential. Through the professional management, the school will be institutionalized and would operate to the required conventional standards, which will attract all and sundry.
In addition, Pablo should embrace the culture of division of labor. Members of staff should be charged with distinct assignments and account to the senior manager who would in turn account to the proprietor. This chain of command is crucial in any formal establishment as it eliminates instances when they misconstrue each other or engage in insubordination. It would also rid the institution from unnecessary confusion that is characteristic in institutions that lack formal structures. For instance, employees will get used to receiving orders from specific official authorities other than from the proprietor and family members. When formal structures will be adequate, the school will run smoothly and vigorously towards its set objectives. The proprietor shall only be reaping the fruits of his investment, without having to go through the kind of trouble he has encountered. Similarly, he should consider sending some of his staff for some in-service courses to improve their skills. However, this can be done on merit as a way of recognizing the good work exhibited by specific teachers.
Finally, in order to determine the success of this comprehensive plan, the school will monitor the trend in admissions of new entrants. Usually, if the general public has unquestionable confidence in an institution, it will send their children to it. They will even market the school on behalf of the proprietors by simply commending its services and recommending it to others.
Change is necessary in institutions because growth is usually coupled with a number of dynamics. Managers ought to be steadfast in determining the direction of their institutions towards significant changes. It is said that ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. More often than not, institutions fail to embrace change because their managers as well as acquaintances fear making that very step. Therefore, they find themselves stagnating in one position and or deteriorating with time because they are bypassed by events. While change is mandatory, change managers should also understand that the fruits of change are never instant. This calls for patience while implementing the plan in a consistent manner. The members of this plan should be resilient never to be brought down at the first blow. The reason for this is the fact that whenever a strange situation is brought into the system, members tend to get confused before they finally adapt to it. Most of them would have been used to the old tradition, which though may never have been good, it would have served their interest and they got used to it. If the proprietor of this academy changes his managerial style, adopts the aforementioned recommendations and implements them with the positive mind, the school will no doubt be revitalized. He should also allow the members of the school community to own the culture of the new change. The school culture can never be consolidated if he will continue managing the entity single handedly as no one can does everything, but all can do something. Best practices ought to be shared for them to suffice in bringing the change that can be believed in. Finally, the change manager should first assess the beginning point in implementing the plan and ensure everything is clarified to other members. Failure to do this may cause confusion and crumble the plan when it is in the initial stage because the community will have viewed it as fruitless.