Major Ashish Mishra
General Manager (H.R.)
Gujarat Maritime Board
'Change is the only thing that is constant'. How many times have we heard this proverb? Umpteen, isn't it? Well, the proverb is true and applicable for various aspects of entire Universe.
To be precise, if we focus on Government, 'Change Management' becomes all the more important and indispensable because of its direct impact on the entire population of the country and indirectly for the entire world in one way or the other. This article talks about the government organizations and application of 'Change Management' in present scenario in various government entities, the factors affecting and forcing the change and the scenarios that are working against bringing this change. But before talking about that, it is necessary to understand what exactly the 'Change Management' is.
What is Change Management?
'Change Management' is as an approach to shifting/transitioning individuals, teams and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. It is an organizational process aimed at helping change stake-holders to accept and embrace changes in their business environment.
Change Management especially for organizations is a multi-disciplinary practice that has evolved with systematic and scholarly research over the years.
Change Management process starts first and foremost with the thought about the need of change which is then accompanied by communicating the idea to the people who would be subject to such a change and steps to be taken towards making the idea of change acceptable to the people who would be at the receiving end of such change.
Any change is a step by step process which needs to be carefully crafted keeping in view of the organizational goals and the type of change that needs to be inculcated.
Change Management and Government Entities:
Governments across borders are shifting their focus from being 'guarded' entities to more transparent ones. Technology has made the availability and flow of information across the globe within no time for any number of individuals/organizations and groups. Accordingly government entities are reorganizing its focus as today their accountability and visibility is much higher than any other time period in history.
Talking about the Indian scenario, government entities in India have worked in a particular fashion since ages. A government job was considered as a job which came with minimal responsibility and high job security. This trait of a government job was perceived as entities where things moved at their own sweet pace. New ideas, innovations and most important their implementation in a government job were limited. Continuous entry of fresh talent was uncommon in government entities due to limited vacancies. This gave a very sluggish and indolent outlook not only to people outside the government but also for the people inside the system.
However, the present scenario of Indian Governance has taken big step in opening its guard and has come out directly to help citizens. Right to Information, Reduction in TAT for citizen centric processes like Passport, PAN Card, Driving License, Online FIR etc are few examples of change in approach and citizen friendly as well as accountability oriented governance.
The shift was really fast and commendable but are things working in the way they were envisioned? What was thought process behind this paradigm shift? Is there a requirement of a dedicated work force for bringing the 'Change management' in Government entities? What role does H.R. play in bringing the change?
The Paradigm Shift - Change Management & Human Resource (H.R.):
"You cannot change your future. But you can change your habits. And surely your habits will change your future."
- A saying about habits by none other than Former President of India Shri A.P.J. Abdul Kalam:
Government entities in India were habituated to function in a particular way. The main thrust involved by the Change Management agents is to inculcate habits that will lead towards the achievement of final objective. One of the major factors to be concentrated in a government sector during change management lies in its typical structure.
Various Government departments have one thing in common; most of them have large number of employee base and the structure generally is of a typical Pyramid with bottom of pyramid having large number of employees with lesser educational qualification, limited exposure and training while on the top of pyramid are lesser number of employees with higher educational qualification, high exposure and training. In most of the cases the workforce at the top of the pyramid is entrusted with the task of bringing any changes in the system.
Basically, it can be said that there is difference between the 'Thinker' and the 'Implementer'
As a human behavior and psychology, habituation and resistance to change are the major reasons for our functioning in a particular way for ages at a stretch. However, in spite of the same being most important point for bringing any successful change; it is given the least importance. Limited thought process goes into think what would people think about bringing strategic changes, who all will be responsible for implementation at all levels and the set of people for whom this change would be done. Basically, it can be said that there is difference between the 'Thinker' and the 'Implementer'
Usually, 'Change' is thought in 'Isolation' rather than thinking about the pre and post requisites of bringing and adapting change. This not only leads towards failure of projects stipulated for implementation but also wastage of time and resources spent behind conceptualizing and materializing the projects aimed at bringing 'Change'.
Role of H.R. as a Change Management Agent in Government Entities:
This leads to not only failure of projects stipulated for implementation but also wastage of time and resources spent behind conceptualizing and materializing the projects aimed at bringing 'Change'.
Of course, naming the stages of floating of any new change or idea in an government organization is the easy part. The real question is: how do you move a government up the scale? Pushing the employees, departments and the government entities as a whole up the ladder as per the standard process is not as easy as always listed. It has to be understood by a government entity proposing to adopt any kind of change is that any 'Change' is more behavioral than procedural. It is the people that need to be treated as the focal point while bringing about any new change in a government organization.
Basically 'Reverse Engineering' or 'Bottom Up' approach needs to be followed by H.R. along with the approach of Senior Management responsible for bringing the much needed change in the thought process and behavior of government employees.
H.R. department has a detailed knowledge on the workforce available in the organization, the posting of right person at right place is controlled by H.R., training of employees is regulated generally through H.R. only, along with having a stock of the situation of employee welfare related issues, discipline and handling of union related issues, its involvement beyond the limits of department, location and function, its role as a neutral and unbiased department. The combination of all these factors gives H.R. an edge to become the real 'Change Management Agent' from the employees' and management front.
H.R. needs to play a crucial role in providing inputs to the decision making committee or management about the efforts and time required for bringing certain amount of changes in the organization and also caution about expected level of resistance from various spheres of workforce, the readiness of its employees to accept any such change and impact of the shift on the employees. If these inputs are available with top management while decision making and bringing any change, then chances of success for acceptance and implementation of any change increase manifold.
Gujarat Maritime Board and the 'Changes':
Gujarat Maritime Board being an organization that has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of maritime excellence in the country can be called as an organization that stays ahead of its times. After the initial years when the focus of GMB was on developmental reforms, a new spotlight towards bringing administrative reforms has been created in GMB since past few years.
Various concepts such as Annual Target points for every Department, regular visits to the ports from Head office, visit of Officers from Ports to Head Office for solving their issues and bringing in new talent for the organization are just the tip of this huge iceberg of ‘Change’ that is proposed to bring administrative reforms that would processes faster and workflow easier.
HR/Establishment alongwith respective Head of departments in GMB have set for themselves clear goals of enhancing the knowledge and productivity of employees by providing training with a clear mandate of ensuring training of 1/3rd of manpower of the organization every year from all cadres, initial steps for ‘Change’ in the form of Pre Preparation and updation of employee work knowledge and hands on experience on ERP (Enterprise resource planning) software almost a year before the launch of GMB’s own ERP package, bringing about concept of less Paper office, participation of every employee in decision making and idea generation through structured feedback system, faster resolution of cases like request transfers and postings, involving families of employees for participation during organization functions and last but not the least ensuring work life balance.
As mentioned, apart from Top down approach there is a special emphasis on ‘Bottom Up’ approach that is proposed to be followed by GMB in the span of upcoming months that would focus on bringing change in the thought process of people at the bottom of the pyramid. When the backbone of the organization is strong, it would ultimately lead towards strengthening the entire organization. Steps towards inculcating positive behavioral and attitudinal changes are being taken by Gujarat Maritime Board.
Understanding the reasons for resistance to change is the first step towards implementing change. This is the reason for Gujarat Maritime Board taking ‘Employee centric’ approach in bringing new administrative reforms that would ensure that the niche created by GMB for itself at the apex of maritime excellence not only gets sustained but the standard set for excellence gets raised with every new effort.