Change Management in the Social Housing Sector: A Fad or a Requirement?
Abdalla, Elhadi, Management Services
Managers in the social housing sector have considered the management of change ever since management emerged as a discipline in its own right. While some of the challenges facing small social housing landlords are novel, many of them may benefit from the application of concepts that were developed several years ago.
There are several reasons why change management may not work for the smaller housing associations:
* Change management is a mixture of so many disciplines
* A valuable contribution has been made only in last few years
* There are different methods adopted
* Some materials on change management are not readily available to the smaller housing associations.
* The concept contains a number of academic schools of thought which can make it difficult to understand.
Does Change Management work?
Many of the smaller groups in the voluntary sector will be asking: does change management work? I will try to answer the question from my experience. However, it is important to know that the answer may not be straightforward since although it may work for some it will not for others.
For the smaller groups, change management means analysing the causes of the presenting problems, designing the change programme and implementing and evaluating it. It can be a valuable tool but it may be applied in a situation for which it is not appropriate. Even in the larger charities, change management professionals have different views of the underlying causes and problems. This means you may measure different outcomes, or measure them differently. The question is whose measure is to be used as the benchmark of best practice? This makes the task of introducing change sometimes difficult.
Perhaps for these reasons managers of the smaller charities may face some difficulties with change management tools. What I found interesting is that change management advisors or gurus prescribe courses of action without any basis in evidence. I see this as part of the problem, not the solution.
Can we plan for change?
Sometimes change is deliberate, a product of conscious reasoning and actions. This type of change is called planned change. In contrast, change sometimes unfolds in an apparently spontaneous and unplanned way. This type of change is known as emergent change. You may make a decision apparently unrelated to the change that emerges. The change is therefore not planned. However, this decision may be based on unspoken, and sometimes unconscious, assumptions about your organisation, the requirements of the funding bodies, and therefore, it is not as unrelated as it first seems. Such implicit assumptions dictate the direction of the seemingly disparate and unrelated decision.
External factors such as funding, mergers and losing a contract or internal features eg board members uncertainty or personal agenda may influence a change in direction totally outside your control.
What is important in change management?
I would draw your attention to two things:
* You need to identify, explore and if necessary challenge the assumptions that underlie the change before it is introduced.
* Understanding that organisational change is a process that you may want to facilitate by perceptive and insightful planning and analysis and well crafted, sensitive implementation phases, while acknowledging that it is never fully isolated from the effects of uncertainty.
How much can we learn from the private sector?
A key consideration for charities is that many of the accepted change management techniques are derived from the private sector. The question is to what extent can the knowledge, theory and models developed in the context of the private sector be successfully transferred to and implemented within housing associations. Results show that applications in the voluntary sector displayed a pattern of results very similar to that in the private sector. …