Learning and change are two important words in today’s global organization. Organizations are growing rapidly as are their presence in new markets and diverse cultures. How these organizations navigate and assimilate into those new cultures can be the most critical step in successful integration. How do today’s global leaders implement change across a large, diverse organization? Let’s first look at some some theories that are relative to this question.
Change can be driven by many things but two theories can be looked at as strong forces in organizational change. Social learning or how people learn behavior by observing others behave (Penn State, 2017), or more specifically to Alfred Bandura’s theory that not only are they replicating the learned behavior but they are “modifying it based on his or her own experiences and desires” (Penn State University, 2017). Another theory relevant to organization change is Schein’s planned change theory which is a three-stage model of unfreezing – creating the motivation to change, change – the changes in both behavior and attitude to the new desired behavior or attitude, and refreezing – stabilization and solidifying the new behavior into the standard behavior. (Penn State University, 2017). During the change phase, you will see a direct connection to Bandura’s social learning theory, where there is “learning behavior by observing others” (Penn State University, 2017). These “others” are people identified as “change agents” (Penn State University, 2017) and also known as office influencers or office ambassadors.
With the global economy and organizations changing at a frenetic pace, it is critical for companies and their leaders to have identified and leverage influencers in their organizations that can help model desired behavior and attitudes and spread information throughout the organization. Companies need to develop strong change leader’s employees know and respect, in other words, people with informal influence (Duan, Sheeren, Weiss, 2014). These office influencers are people that other employees look for insight, input, guidance, expertise, advice, and ideas about the direction of or what is happening in the organization. As Rachel Feintzeig states in the WSJ article titled “Office Influencers are in High Demand”, companies are now seeking out “influencers,” or those among their employees who are particularly well-connected and trusted by their peers (Feintzeig, 2014). What better way to make those employees feel connected and engaged than by “harnessing office influencers clout to come up with new products, get workers on board with big changes like mergers, or spread information throughout the organization” (Feintzeig, 2014). These change agents are trusted members of the employee population and can be effectively leveraged by modeling the desired behavior and attitudes in order to create the change desired by the leadership of the organization.
By using social media such as company blogs, company Facebook pages or groups, or intranet collaborative spaces, organization can leverage and increase the reach of the office influencers. In global organizations that allow many people to work remotely, it is even more critical for office influencers to be out there connecting with and engaging employees. These individuals can have an influence on what employees believe about the future, as well as on morale, how hard people work, and their willingness to support or resist change which can a profound impact on the success of an organization (Duan, Sheeren, Weiss, 2014).
Duan, L., Sheeren, E., & Weiss, L. M. (2014, March). Tapping the power of hidden influencers. Retrieved November 19, 2016, from http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/ourinsights/tapping-the-power-of-hidden-influencers
Feintzeig, R. (2014, February 11). Are You an Influencer? Inside the Corporate Hunt for Clout. Retrieved November 19, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303874504579375313680290816
Penn State University. OLEAD 410. Lesson 5: Learning and Change in a Global Setting. Pg. 1-5. (2017). Retrieved February 6, 2017, from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1826457/discussion_topics/11456135?module_item_id=21654119