MGT 435 Organizational Change
Change is a process that even though may not be welcomed with open arms is ultimately inevitable and occurs within any organization. It’s managements responsibility to ensure employees are well prepared for change that may occur within an organization. The purpose of this paper is to highlight and diagnose an organization’s need for change and present a plan to accomplish the same using Kotter’s 8-Step Approach.
Formally known as Consolidated Utility Services, Consolidated Infrastructure Group (CIG) is a Utility Locating Company that was established May 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. The company specializes in utility asset damage prevention services and solutions for electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water and sewer throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska and Arkansas. The company boasts over 300 years of collective experience in the utility asset and damage prevention industry with the primary objective of creating long-term working relationships with utility companies (ciglocating.com, n.d.). CIG caters to property owners who are conducting any form of excavation or construction that may require digging to occur, and must be in accordance with the state 811 laws which require utilities to be located prior to excavation (Texas811.org, n.d.) to prevent possible damage and loss to utilities.
When conducting a diagnosis for CIG, one must consider the forces at work both externally and internally. Managers are tasked with researching those forces that can possibly affect an organization’s operations. The best approach to this is by using a SWOT analysis, which is a method of assessing a company strengths and weaknesses plus opportunities and threats in their environment (Baack, Reily, Minnick, 2014). The company uses up-to-date locate tools from a company known as Subsite, an underground utility locator that provides the finest guidance system for locating underground utilites. Furthermore, CIG uses Keystone; a continuously updated software program that allows for better 811 requests tracking and record keeping compared to its competitors. However, while CIG is a new company with room for aggressive expansion to many other states other than Texas, the company is not the exclusive go to locate company for all utilities. CIG exclusively locates AT&T and Comcast in Texas, while its top competitor USIC locates all other utilities. Overall, CIG is a start-up company that has created a large enough footprint to give its top competitor and nationwide utility locate company such as USIC a run for the money. However, what I have noticed beneath the surface of the company itself is the pressure that’s placed on its employees to accomplish utility locates, which will be explored.
CIG offers a wide variety of incentives for its hard workers. Every month there’s a safety driver bonus, which management tracks the GPS within the company vehicles to analyze who drives safely to each locate they’re assigned to. There’s a bonus for employee referrals which employees recommend personal or professional acquaintances, such as friends or family members for the organization’s employment consideration, which is one of the largest sources or recruiting (Youssef, 2015). The recruiter gets two bonuses: one for successful hire, and another if he or she is damage free for the first 3 months. Finally, there’s a two-way bonus for performance where not only can you as an individual acquire a bonus for monthly performance, but your assigned team can also collect a bonus provided they meet or exceed their quota. This is considered an outcome-based incentive, which is in addition to wages and salaries and liked to be predetermined quantifiable outcomes (Youssef, 2015).
If an employee reaches a certain number of 811 tickets per month they’re eligible for the individual bonus and possibly the team bonus as well, so in other words the harder and faster you accomplish the tickets the closer you are to achieving the bonus, and therein lies the problem. There are two main types of locate tickets: normal and emergency. Normal tickets that are assigned to you provide a 48-hour window to locate all assigned utilities within the scope of the worksite, while emergency tickets give you 3 hours max to respond to the worksite and locate the utilities. Bear in mind the 811 ticket requests vary in size of worksite and complexity of utilities underground, so there’s no guarantee as to the duration of completion. Now let’s say for argument you’re required to accomplish at minimum two 811 locates per hour. Casting aside drive time to the locate, assessing the area and utilities (which again may vary in size and complexity) that must be located and properly mark all assigned utilities, so in theory you have approximately 30 minutes to accomplish the locate upon arrival of the worksite to meet your goal. Spend any longer locating at a worksite and your overall production will began to drop. This is closely monitored by not only by the area supervisor, but also by the district manager as well, who designate the number of tickets accomplished per hour as well as number of tickets per day. What happens then is the member who requested the 811 tickets must be contacted if the site cannot be located on time, and the ticket must be rescheduled until it can be completed. The site must still be located and it’s the technician’s responsibility to properly locate the assigned worksite, in addition to the other tickets he or she has assigned to them so the ticket will remain active until it has been accomplished. This can cause the technician’s work load to be drastically increased due to the short window of completion, plus the arrival of new 811 tickets that become assigned to them. The technician may have to work overtime or weekend work to accomplish their tasks, or worst-case scenario the member who requested the 811 ticket decides to proceed with the excavation without knowing where or what type of utilities are within the worksite and cause a damage to utilities. In summation, the 48-hour window may be sufficient for some 811 requests that are not complex in nature and large in scope, but for the tickets that are in fact complex and large more time should be given to provide the technician more time to complete the task and accurately locate all assigned utilities. After having discussions and open dialogue between numerous number of technicians, of all the issues that have been exposed or revealed to me, the short completion window seems to the be largest and most popular issue that everyone has. This calls for the need for change on a large scale that will benefit the 811-ticket requestor ensuring that they will not cause a damage and provide the technician with ample time to accomplish the request. Next, we will discuss how to move forward with the change using Kotter’s 8-step Approach, and explain in detail step by step how this change will occur and the possible effects it will have on all parties involved.
Planned organizational change is a process that that moves companies from a present state to a desired future state with the goal of enhancing their effectiveness (Weiss, 2016). Kotter’s 8-Step approach is a fantastic method to encourage and promote change within an organization, as it is widely used among organizations as the go-to planning method. It’s an 8-step approach that is divided into three categories: Steps 1-4 are for Preparation, 5-7 for action, and the final step is for grounding (Sidorko, 2007).
Step 1: Establish a Sense of Urgency
It is argued that significant change generally fails if a sense of urgency is not first created and realized (Youssef, 2015). I interpret that statement as two simple yet vital questions: WHAT needs to be changed, and WHY is there a need for said change? As stated earlier, I discussed issues among peers in the same field, and though they presented many valid issues, the main issue that always came to subject was the unreasonable timeframe for large 811 tickets. To recap, an 811-ticket request must be completed within 48 hours, no matter what the size or complexity of the worksite may be. This can cause a serious domino effect if the worksite is not properly marked so the excavator can know where he or she can and cannot dig. Furthermore, CIG will lose money if a ticket remains active for too long, and if the site is no located and a damage occurs, the organization could be at fault for the damages since they were assigned the 811 tickets and failed to complete the locate on time. This is an issue that must be addressed and must be changed for the benefit of all parties involved.
Step 2: Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
Kotter’s second step entails mustering a team to form a way forward with the change. This is accomplished by assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effort and encouraging the group to work as a team (Youssef, 2015). The concept behind this step requires subject matter experts in related fields to include regional and district managers, supervisors and representatives from The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Common Ground Alliance (CGA) (since they have oversight with the 811 process). Overall, the individuals assigned to the team must have strong and positive reputation among their peers and subordinates. The prevention of damage and extension of 811 ticket timeframe is the goal, and with the help of top representatives from CIG as well as DOT and CGA this change can occur. Our next step requires strategy and plan of attack to lengthen the timeframe for the 811 requests.
Step 3: Develop a Vision and Strategy
In war history strategy has been defined the way to win the war. This makes sense also in a business world, as the necessity to make a” war plan” to beat their competitors in their business war. According to Kamensky the main thing that combines all strategy theories is the competition. If there was no competition between businesses, there wouldn’t be need for strategies (Kamensky, 2000). In this case, the battle is to save money and prevent damages which I’m positive all parties involved will concur with. Utility companies do not wish for damages to incur because they can lose their customers for failure to provide services. CIG does not want to be at fault for any damages that occur, and do not want their employees overwhelmed with accomplishing a large scale 811 ticket with the possibility of failing to properly locate all assigned utilities. The excavator does not wish to “foot the bill” for damages he or she has created. This issue is not an isolated issue; 811 services are nationwide. The more people that are rallied together and united to battle this the better the outcome of change. If enough top-ranking executives approach CGA and DOT with the concern for timeframe, and present a 72 to 96-hour window to complete 811 tickets that are both large and complex in nature. This requires the transparency and cooperation from the excavator to provide as much information for the 811 tickets as possible to determine whether the ticket is large or not. Concurrence and active communication between the excavator and utility technician is key to success, which brings us to the next step in Kotter’s approach.
Step 4: Communicate the Vision
As stated earlier, communication between excavator and utility technician is the key to success. If change is to be successful, the team must effectively communicate the new vision to all parties involved, and managers must use every weapon in their arsenal to ensure everyone understands the new process and how it is to be achieved (Youssef, 2015). CIG employees will be briefed in mass from their respective area supervisors regarding the change. A teleconference is a very suitable and efficient method for accomplishing this, as it’s the norm for Area Supervisors to have weekly teleconference meetings with all their team members to address changes to policies and address new items. CGA and DOT will oversee disseminating information to construction companies and unions to inform them of the change for large scale projects, which will be done via seminars and webinars. Since this is a change that will benefit everyone involved, little resistance is to be expected, and the process can move forward with very few obstacles.
Step 5: Empower Others to Act on the Vision
The 811 system is a nationwide program that is used in all states to locate utilities prior to digging, however the most common problem that has been observed is a lack of knowledge pertaining to the 811 programs; everyone will not be fully aware of the change to the procedure. The more people involved in trying new behaviors and changes, the better (Youssef, 2015). This will be accomplished by active communication and feedback from the construction companies as far as how the process has affected them. Assuming the feedback is positive, we can ask the construction companies to spread the word of the new change to the 811 programs and the benefits of the change. In the interim, regional managers and district managers who have rapport with local and statewide construction companies can reach out to them and discuss the new process taking place. Managers can use testimony from other construction companies who’ve had the pleasure of using the new policy and verify just how effective the change has been.
Step 6: Plan for and Create Short-term Wins
In step 5 the issue was that not everyone will be aware of the changes to the new procedure. Bear in mind the 811 system is used nationwide, and the amount of construction companies and contractors range in the millions. For CIG, the long game is ensuring every major contractor we work with is aware of the new procedure and how beneficial it is for everyone. The short-term goal is establishing visible and tangible performance improvements (Youssef, 2015), which will be seen when the large scale 811 tickets are accomplished within the new window. The utility technician can then accomplish their hourly, daily and monthly quota without worry of falling behind in workload and successfully complete large-scale tickets without stress of accomplishing it in a short window. This achievement will have to be accomplished team by team, region by region.
Step 7: Consolidate Improvements and Produce More Change
The greatest takeaway from step 7 is not to declare that the change process is finished (Sidorko, 2007). The short-term wins which are the adaptation of new timeframes of completing a ticket. The momentum is the key; the more teams take advantage of the process, the stronger bond formed with contractors and construction companies and the greater feedback for ease of use for the new process the more other teams and construction companies will accept the new process.
Step 8: Institutionalize New Approaches in the Culture
Finally, step 8 includes making the change accepted and established in the organization’s culture (Weiss, 2016). The process has been welcomed among all, and is now common practice. The old way of the 811 process is long gone and forgotten, and new employees recognize the process like 5 monkeys and a ladder mindset; the process is what has always been done before without question.
Organizational change is an inevitable process that while isn’t always welcomed with open arms, occurs within any organization. Change to the 811 processes has been recognized as a dire need for change to benefit not only the organization but for contractors and construction companies alike. By providing a vision with the overall goal of giving more time to complete large scale locates prevents possible damage to underground utilities and thus relieving the locate technician of the added stress of completing the worksite on time. Using Kotter’s 8-Step Approach I could explain the vision, rally a team of experienced and important members and create a plan of attack to change the process of the 811 systems.
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Title 5 Utilities code (September 19, 1999). Underground Damage and Facilities Safety Code. Retrieved from http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/UT/htm/UT.251.htm
CIG company overview (n.d.). Retrived from https://ciglocating.com