Importance of Communication in Organizational Change

Communication and Organizational Change

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The aspect of change in an organization is important and must be handled with care. Change is inevitable, but it tends to fetch resistance, discomfort, and confusion if it is not communicated effectively. Organizational leaders and managers seeking to impact change must use viable strategies that will make employees feel that the change is meant to uphold their welfare and overall thriving of the organization. Change is all about transitioning people from one way of doing things to another (Heathfield, 2017). Apparently, the communication model used by change campaigners play important role in the success of the change being impacted. Change management is a process of applying a pre-planned method and structured methods to instil change in the way an organization works. However, without a proper strategy in communication, any attempt on change may lead to strong resistance on the changes leading to dysfunction of the organization.

The article, therefore, looks at analysing change model that GM’s CEO employed in enhancing change in the company. It will look at how the change was communicated, the leaders that were involved in the change process, and an appropriate change model that was used.

The General Motors (GM) is one example where the management had no choice but to make managerial and production system changes. The changes were triggered by the bankruptcy cases that GM had been facing as well as the massive defects on her products which used to cost the company millions of dollars. The ignition-switch scandal saw the company experience massive losses. GM was sued and had to pay about $900 million to settle criminal charges on her (Colvin, 2015). The charges were based on the claim that she withheld information on a faulty ignition system that was blamed on over one hundred deaths. As a result, the company’s board had no choice but to fire the then CEO and Mary Barra was hired in 2004 as the new CEO in 2014.

It was Barra’s responsibility to impact change in the company and transform GM to a global vehicle manufacturing giant that she once was. Apparently, the changes Barra impacted have seen the company accelerate out of bankruptcy making massive profits in the process as a result if better designs and faster production capacity. The first change she did was to rethink technology in production and its development (Lin, 2016). Secondly, she wanted product design to be improved and approved before production could commence. She also introduced a new line of production, Bolt electric vehicle. Most importantly, she streamlined communication by reducing bureaucracy, whereby if a mechanic detected a problem during assembly, they could communicate the problem instantly without following multiple procedures. These changes have marked an overall cultural rehabilitation in GM.

The changes made by Barra and her top management were communicated through a face to face meeting with company engineers, supervisors and subordinate employees. It was also communicated through a Memo in all GM braches on the changes to be impacted on production and organizational communication (Heathfield, 2017). The CEO, Production Managers, and the Human resource manager were involved in relaying the changes to the entire GM workforce (Lin, 2016). The new technological, design, communication and marketing changes were based on the ignition-scandal that GM faced, her bankruptcy and the need to maximize production capacity by eliminating defects.

In the management of change, Barra used the McKinsey 7-S framework model in communicating the changes to the entire GM fraternity. The first thing it involves is strategizing on how to counter the problem (In Goksoy, 2016). In this case, communication, design, and production were in a mess and had to be changed regarding the way they were conducted (Colvin, 2015). Step by step procedures was set on how communication and production were to be conducted. Secondly, the structure of the organization was changed especially in the production department. Communication was changed from vertical to horizontal approach to avoid delay in reporting defects and errors.

Thirdly, the model involves setting up a system that gets things done, one task after the other. She solved this problem by looking into the welfare of employees as they were demotivated by low pay and lack of incentives. Moreover, the six-sigma production system that utilized continued improvement on products was reorganized (Anastasia, 2015). The McKinsey 7-S model also advocates for shared values, style, staffing capability and skill evaluation to produce a competitive production team that was able to put GM back on the world map in vehicle manufacturing (In Goksoy, 2016).

In conclusion, the success that GM is experiencing today is as a result of the remarkable change management skills that Barra employed in transforming the company to a global vehicle manufacturer once again. Effective communication that makes one connect with subordinates helped her convince the GM fraternity to embrace the changes. GM currently has the best vehicle designs, high rate of vehicle manufacturing, and minimized production errors that have made her make more profits each fiscal year. Therefore, effective communication model remains the core factor in impacting organizational change.


Anastasia. (2015, June 18). Major Approaches & Models of Change Management. Retrieved from

Colvin, G. (2015, September 18). How CEO Barra is using the ignition-switch scandal to change GM’s culture. Retrieved from

Heathfield, S. M. (2017, June 1). How to Communicate to Facilitate Change in Employee Actions. Retrieved from

In Goksoy, A. (2016). Organizational change management strategies in modern business.

Lin, Q. (2016). Analysis of resource management in complex work systems: Using the example of Sterile Goods Management in hospitals.

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