THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN CHANGE MANAGEMENT IN ENUGU STATE
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Change denotes the transition that occurs when something goes from being the same to being different. For example, water in the liquid state is not the same as water in the frozen state. At some point, it underwent a transition and became different. Change involves the introduction of new procedures, people or ways of working which have a direct impact on the various stakeholders within an organization. It entails moving from one state to another, specifically, from the problem state to the solved state in a planned, orderly fashion. However, as the 21st century is preoccupied with the concept of change; the role of communication in actualizing change is gradually dawning on organizations.
At the heart of change management lie the change problems – the organized process for getting from the current state to be left behind and the future state to be realized. The change problem might be large or small in scope and scale, and it might focus on individuals or groups, on one or more divisions or departments, the entire organization, or on one or more aspects of the organization’s environment. Uncertainty and fear of the unknown are common factors for resistance during change – employees do not always understand why change is occurring and tend to be wary of moving away from the old. This is where communication proves invaluable because people seem to move along the change adaptability curve faster if they know what is happening to them.
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One of the critical areas of successful change management therefore, is communication, which involves consulting with stakeholders throughout the change process, Communication is highly sensitive and crucial in building trust, maintaining loyalty and productivity, and ensuring the cooperation and support required to successfully implement the change. Strategic communication is “a deliberate and planned approach to all communication activities, both for internal and external audiences” (Sue, 2005:2). It is essential as it impacts on the success of change. Strategic planning provides a mechanism for ensuring that the right decisions are being made, and for the right reasons. Strategic communication plan enables an organization to be proactive and be prepared for any communication challenge or opportunities, which may arise from the introduction of change.
Communicating change intent once by memo, therefore, is never enough, it includes allowing time and resources for the transition itself – that in –between stage when people involved are letting go of the old and embracing the new. The ability to effectively and consistently keep an organization top-of-mind and visible to all stakeholders is a critical component of success. One aspect of business that is constant is that business processes will constantly change as technology opportunities evolve. However, introducing new technologies to advance business goals is usually unsettling, understanding and acting upon inherent pitfalls in the process through communication can make the process empowering.
Public relations help an organization and its public adapt mutually to each other. Often, it is a term used to describe both, a way of looking at an organization’s performance and a program of activities. Public relations function takes many forms in different organizations, including public information, investor relations, public affairs, corporate communications, employee relations, marketing or product publicity, and consumer service or customer relations.
Basic to all public relations, however, is communicating. Well-planned, effectively handled communications are increasingly seen as essential to the success and even existence of organizations in today’s changing world. Every organization-government, business, labour, professional trade, health, cultural, financial, recreational, educational and public service-depends on people. Their attitudes, attention, understanding, and motivation can be critical to the success or failure of an organization or idea.
Public relations, at its best, not only tells an organization’s “story” to its publics, but also helps shape the organization and the way it performs. Through research, measurement and evaluation, public relations professionals determine the concerns and expectations of the organization’s publics and explain them to management. A responsible and effective public relations program is based on the understanding and support of its publics.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Effective organization is structured around two types of management agendas. The ‘sustaining agenda’ which includes ongoing operational activities related to programme delivery, human resources, finance and corporate services, and this occupies about 90 per cent of an organization’s time and resources. The other agenda which occupies the remaining 10 per cent of time and resources is the “change agenda’. It includes activities designed to transform or innovate the way business is accomplished by improving or changing elements of the sustaining agenda. Crucial to those two agenda is Communication.
Communication ensures the cooperation and support required to successfully manage an organization and implement its change agenda. Our daily lives, are inundated with information. However, the world is moving beyond the information age(in terms of data, facts) into the knowledge age (in terms of comprehension, expertise, technical know-how). The information age is well immersed and what is really needed is a way to sift and sort this information, a way to gauge what is useful and what is not. Effective change management occurs only if a change initiative is properly communicated to all and sundry among other things, using the right communication strategies.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
(a) To what extent could Public Relations be regarded as an organ in charge management within Organization?
(b) How will Public Relations Practices employed by an Organization help in managing change?
(c) To what extent will communication strategy employed by an organization bring about management change?
(d) How will strategic communication affect organizational change management?
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study among other things will justify the essential role of public relations in change management, as well as highlight the various communication strategies that could be used during change intent. It will also serve as a basis for future researchers who would like to explore similar subject, as well as a reference point for those willing to equip themselves with the knowledge the finding of the study will eventually generate and for the benefit of the organization concerned.
1.5 PURPOSE OF STUDY
Change is inevitable in any social set up or organization yet most people and organizations detest it like leprosy. What will be the focus of this study therefore is how communication and public relations practices could be used in managing change.
1.6 SCOPE OF STUDY
The study is delimited to the employees of the organizations under study. Consequently, data are collected from the members of staff of Enugu branches of the organizations.
1.7 FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC.
Since the establishment of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. In 1894, the Bank has consistently met growing market demands for financial services through a process of Continuous reinvention. Its current customer centered architecture combines service delivery through the traditional branch outlet with ease of the automated delivery channel to create a customer service experience that is strong choice, convenience and mass customization.
Since its establishment, the Bank has been strategic to the well being and growth of the Nigeria economy. Consequently, it has remained the most portable banking franchise in Nigeria, with group profit after tax of NGN 36.54 billon in the financial year ended March 31, 2007. Under pinning this success is the Bank’s strategy, with its focus on the two critical imperatives of modernization and growth.
With 453 business locations as at March 31, 2007 the Bank has one of the largest domestic sales net works in Nigeria, all online in real time. As a market leader in the financial services sector, First Bank pioneered initiatives in international money transfer, master card, inters witch and ATM consortium. It is the industry leader in terms of value and volume of ATM transactions in the country.
1.7.1 WEMA BANK PLC.
Wema Bank Plc was incorporated in May 1945 as a private limited liability company and commenced business operations as a commercial bank in the same year. The Bank was converted to a public limited liability company in April 1987 and was subsequently listed on the floor of the Nigeria stock exchange in January 1990. On February 5, 2001, the Central Bank Of Nigeria granted a Universal banking License to the Bank, thus allowing the Bank to undertake a wide range if financial services to its numerous customers across the country.
The Bank has witnessed tremendous growth and development in branch network, quality of service delivery and overall financial performance in the last two decades. It embarked on a process of cooperate transformation that has resulted in the emergence of a restructured Wema Bank Plc, strategically positioned to fully optimize opportunities in the industry. Wema Bank Plc is adequately capitalized, shareholders’ funds is in excess of N25 billion and asset base is N165 billion. Presently, Odu’ a Investment Company Limited holds 10% equity stake in the Bank, while private individual investors and staff of the Bank own the remaining 90%. The authorized share capital of the Bank is N7, 000,000,000.00 divided into 14,000,000,000.00 ordinary share of 50kobo each.
With banking operations spanning sixty-two years, Wema Bank Plc is reputed to be the longest surviving indigenous bank in Nigeria. Wema Bank Plc is a customer-focused bank. We take delight in learning the intricacies of our customers business and preferences, thus the byline “taking you to greater heights”.
1.7.2 PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Corporate finance packages include:
Capital Market operations
Mergers and acquisitions
These products are available to customers and non- customers of the Bank alike. The guiding philosophy is to proffer value-adding solutions to “customers” debt/equity management problems.
The Commercial Banking department manages the relationships of middle level companies, small businesses and trading clients. The department, which is situated at the head Office, has the following sectors under it.
Key Distributorship Schemes- Guinness Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Breweries, Flour Mills Plc. Etc. Wema Bank Plc was officially approved in September 2003 by Guinness Nigeria Plc to participate in the key distributorship scheme along with six other banks. Apart from Guinness Nigeria Plc, credit facilities are also granted to key distributors of other producing companies in Nigeria e.g. Nigeria breweries Plc and Flour Mills Plc.
Agricultural Services- the sector is one of the real sectors of the economy. The bold step of the present civilian government has brought about a great boost in agricultural production in the country. The sector has in its agric portfolio, various companies in the areas of fish farming, animal production, cash crop production etc.
SMIES – The sector identifies investment opportunities and, deal flow/ screening and investment structuring
The Public sector Group provides a one-stop market for customers and prospects in the three tiers of Government, Parastatals, Commissions and Institutions of higher learning. It provides the following services.
Current Account Plus overdraft Facility (Capof) – designed for Local Government Councils to assist them in bridging the gap between payment of salaries and receipt of their monthly statutory allocation.
Higher Institutions Funding Account (Hifa) – designed for higher institutions of learning to facilitate the completion process of capital projects pending the receipts of its grant.
Revenue Collection Services
Federal Inland revenue Services Collection:
1. Value Added Tax
Company Income Tax
Capital Gain Tax
Personal Income Tax
International Taxes – Payment via Swift instruction.
State Revenue Collection
1. Lagos States Taxes – payable Bank wide
2. Ogun State Taxes – payable Bank wide
3. Lagos Water Revenue – All Lagos Branches
4. Lagos Waste Collection
Customs Duty payment
All branches nationwide collect on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, NITEL and NEPA Bills as well as sell forms of institutions of learning and professional bodies.
Provision and administration of Bonds and Guarantees
Provision and administration of loans and advances
Retail banking department is a group saddled with the responsibility of abridging the financial needs of the lower and the middle classes of the economy by making available financial supports for the creation of retail based risk assets and liabilities with the ceiling amount of not more that N20million turnover in six months. Retail Banking issues, amends and pays on performance bonds given by one party to another against loss or violation of the contract. This may be used to support a customer’s promise to deliver goods or guarantee obligation to complete a project.
Overdraft Facility - This facility is structured to augment customer’s working capital by bridging the gap that may arise as a result of the cash inflow and outflow.
Leases – This is a facility that allows customers to acquire assets like equipment, plant and machinery while repayment is structured to allow payment of monthly rentals without undue pressure on the customer’s incomes
Term Loan – This facility has longer tenor than overdraft. It is used to meet long term business needs such as business expansion and procurement of large plants.
Import Finance- This is a facility type that enjoys flexibility of options. Wema Bank introduces options that meet the need of their customers in relation to cost-effectiveness. These options include standby letter of credit and collection obligations, bankers’ acceptance etc.
Export finance – Wema Bank extends facilities to their customers to meet international transactions at various stages; from production to shipping of the goods to buyers and collection of the proceeds.
Institutional Banking activities are specifically structured to provide excellent services to multinationals and corporate clients. In adding to quality services, it place premium on mutual business relationship built around in-depth understanding of client’s business so as to tailor products and efficient services to meet their precise business needs. Businesses are segregated into groups and products are packaged to take care of financial needs. The Directorate provides first class financial services and advice to the following clients:
Conglomerates & Multinationals.
The department relates with the Pre-Shipment Inspection Agents, Nigerian Customs and other relevant authorities in the processing of import documents such as
Approved Form ‘M’
Original Final Attested invoice
Bill of Exchange
Bill of Lading
Exchange Control Documents i.e. customs clearing documents
Clean Report of Inspection (CRI) and Customs Duty Receipts.
Customer’s Authority to pay.
Establishment of Letters of Credit such as:
Irrevocable Clean Confirmed Letter of Credit
Irrevocable Cash Confirmed Letter of Credit
Irrevocable Unconfirmed Letter of Credit
Discounting Letter of Credit Facility
Invisible Trade Transactions:
Business & Personal Travel Allowance
Subscriptions, School Fees & Maintenance Allowance
Dividend & Royalties Payment
Technical services Agreement
Personal Home Remittance
Foreign Cheque Clearing
Collection of Funds Overseas
Export Services & Domiciliary Accounts
Maintenance of Domiciliary accounts both in cash and inflow basis
Processing of N & P forms for Exportation business.
Wema Bank treasury department specializes in placement and deposits of funds amongst banks usually dominated in local currency – Naira and foreign currencies. Treasury department also specializes in the management of accounts of other financial institutions.
Wema Open Plan Account (Wopa)
. Share Acquisition Savings Account (SASA)
. Artisan/Apprentice Savings Account (ASSA)
. Marital Savings Account (MASA)
. XMAS/Sallah Savings Account (XSSA)
. Pilgrimage Savings Account (PISA)
. Household Appliances Target Savings Account (HATSA)
. Save and Grow Education Savings account (SAGESA)
. Retirement Savings Account (RESSA)
. Home Ownership Savings Account (HOSA)
. Vacation Savings Account (VASA)
Wema Assets Acquisition Scheme was introduced to ease the financial burden of customers and non-customers alike wanting to acquire various assets and house hold equipments. The product is targeted primary at salary earners wanting to acquire personal assets like cars, satellite dish, gas cookers, personal computers, refrigerators, washing machines, air-conditioner, generating set, electronics, deep freezers etc.
Wema Inland Funds Transfer – for easy local money transfer. Wema inland Transfer (WIFT) is for both account and non-account holders
Western Union money transfer – Foreign currency is received by customers from any part of the world in a reliable, fast and efficient manner. Money sent to Nigerian from any part of the world can conveniently be cashed at any of the branches nationwide. This service made possible by Western Union enables millions of people all over the world to remit money to their friends, relatives and family.
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE
As the 21st century is being preoccupied by the concept of change, the role of communication in actualizing change is gradually making an impact on organizations. Knowledge Management has become a corporate buzzword and “Keeping employees in the know” is now key to organizational survival, let alone growth. Peter Drucker (2002:5) goes so far to declare, “The knowledge worker is the single greatest asset to an organization”. Communication is highly sensitive and crucial in building trust, maintaining loyalty and productivity.
Change entails moving from one state to another, specifically, from the problem state to the solved state in a planned, orderly fashion. Kitchen (2001:2) defined organizational change as the:
Realization of new procedures or technologies intended to
realign an organization with the changing demands of its
business environment, or to capitalize on business
Jick (1993) opined that change in its broadest sense is a planned or unplanned response to pressures and forces, in particular technological, economic, social, regulatory, political and competitive forces. The key to successful change implementation therefore lies in understanding the potential impacts of a change initiative on the stakeholders.
2.1.1. ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT
Organizational change is the realization of new procedures or technologies intended to realign an organization with the changing demands of its business environment, or to capitalize on business opportunities. (Phillip, 2001). Change involves the introduction of new procedures, peoples or ways of working which have a direct impact on the various stakeholders within an organization. The key to successful change implementation lies in understanding the potential impacts of a change initiative on the stakeholders – will employees be scared, resistant, pessimistic or enthusiastic about the proposed change? How can each possible reaction be anticipated and managed?
Change management on the other hand, entails thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation, and above all, consultation with, and involvement of, the people affected by the changes. It ensures that change is realistic, achievable, measurable, and time bound. Embarking on organizational change requires asking: what do we want to achieve with this change, why and how would we know that the change has been achieved?
Who will be affected by the change, and how will they react to it? How much of this change can we achieve ourselves, and what parts of the change do we need help with?
2.2 TYPES OF CHANGE
Armstrong, (1999) and Rowland (2003) identified three main, contrasting models from Lewin, Beer and Shaw.
This model considers that change involves a move from one static state via a state of activity to another static status quo. Lewin specifically considers a three-stage process of managing change: unfreezing, changing and re-freezing. The first stage involves creating a level of dissatisfaction with the status quo, which creates conditions for change to be implemented. The second stage requires organizing and mobilizing the resources required to bring about the change. The third stage involves embedding the new ways of working into the organization.
Beer and colleagues advocate a model that recognizes that change is more complex and therefore requires a more complex, albeit still uniform set of responses to ensure its effectiveness. They prescribe a six-step process to achieve effective change.
They concentrate on “task alignment’, whereby employees’ roles, responsibilities and relationships are seen as key to bring about situations that enforce changed ways of thinking, attitudes and behaving. Their stages are:
Mobilize commitment to change through joint diagnosis.
Develop a shared vision of how to organize.
Foster consensus, competence and commitment to share vision.
Spread the word about the change
Institutionalize the change through formal policies.
Monitor and adjust as needed.
This model looks at change in a different form. Change is seen as both complex and also evolutionary. The starting point for their (and a number of other more recent models) model is that the environment of an organization is not in equilibrium. As such the change mechanisms within organizations tend to be ‘messy’ and to a cretin extent operate in reverse to the way outlined by Lewin. It is not appropriate to consider the status quo as an appropriate starting point, given that organizations are not static entities. Rather the forces for change are already inherent in the system and emerge as the system adapts to its environment.
Such different models will have implications on the way organizations and their leaders view change, the way they mange change and the effectiveness of any change initiative.
Ackerman (1997) distinguished between four types of change:
Developmental Change – may be a planned or emergent change. It is a change that enhances or corrects existing aspects of an organization, often focusing on the improvement of a skill or process.
Transitional change – seek to achieve a known desired state that is different from the existing one. It requires a shift in assumptions made by the organization and its members.
Transformational Change – requires new ways of thinking and behaving that differ significantly in terms of structure, processes, culture and strategy. It may, therefore result in the creation of an organization that operates in developmental mode – one that continuously learns, adapts and improves.
Incremental Change – is limited in scope, and happens within normal expectations, and is often reversible. It does not disrupt past patterns but rather an extension of the past.
Nature of problem, however, determines the type of change to be adopted.
2.2 CHANGE PROCESS
The pace of change is ever increasing – particularly with the advent of the Internet and the rapid deployment of new technologies, new ways of doing business and new ways of conducting one’s life. Communicating change intent therefore, once by memo is never enough.
It includes allowing time and resources for the transition itself – that in-between stage when people who are in the process are letting go of the old and embracing the new. Workshops focused on understanding the impact of change can help with this. This is a significant component of the preparation strategy. The change processes include strategies for identification of change agents from within the organization as leaders for the change, identification of those people who may be unwilling to accept or support the changes and how to work with these processes and other strategies.
During times of change, uncertainty and fears of the unknown is a common factor for resistance – employees do not always understand why change is occurring and tend to be wary of moving away from the old. This is where communication proves invaluable because people seem to move along the change adaptability curve faster if they know what is happening to them. As Charles Darwin said: “It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change”.
The ability to effectively and consistently keep an organization top – of mind and visible to all stakeholders – internal and external publics – is a critical component of success. Change process according to Carnal (1999) involves the following:
Preparing for Change – This is the stage of inspiring people to move, making objectives real and relevant, and identifying need for change. The stage often requires a Change Management Team, either from within the organization or an external consultancy. The initial task of the Change Management Team will be to conduct an audit of the existing business practices that require change with a view to establishing the gap between the organization’s current status and where it aims to be.
Change Management Plan – the change management plan is a concise document that states the reason and scope for change, implementation and success measurement. The plan outlines the individual activities that will enable the change; states who is responsible for each activity and the deadline by which each activity will be completed. For organizational change that entails new actions, objectives and processes for a group or team of people, planning includes achieving understanding, involvement, setting measurable aims, actions and commitment.
Communication – Communication as noted by carnall really starts the change process and is one of the critical areas of successful change management. It ensures the cooperation and support required to successfully implement the change. Internal communication tools available to the change Management Team include, staff briefings, workshops, e-mails and the organization’s intranet.
Evaluation – Measuring the impact of change activities determines whether additional change is required or highlights how well the implemented change management strategy, recorded both successes and failures. This knowledge helps to ensure that future change management activities are built on the successes recorded. Some useful measures of change includes: Increased efficiency; Increased effectiveness; Increased profitability; Greater market share; Level of take up of new processes; Improved compliance with new regulations.
2.3 STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
Successful change requires time to plan every fact of the communication of the change project especially the people strategy. Communication addresses two main needs in change management – providing important information to those who need in change management – providing important information to those who need to know it, and conveying change messages to affect the attitude and behavior of various populations concerned.
Organizational Change Management seeks to understand the sentiments of the target population and work with them to promote efficient delivery of the change and enthusiastic support for its results. Therefore, in planning change, implementing it as well as preparing the people for the changes that is about to happen, communication is the number one issue. This seems like a statement of the blinding obvious yet communication is still reported ‘as the major problem in implementing change’ (KPMG 1998).
Successful change implementation takes the time to plan every facet of the change project especially the people strategy and starts with the following threshold questions without which a change cannot be successfully implemented:
Why are we doing this?
Why now? What if we do not do this now?
What is our destination? Precisely.
How will we get there?
What is in it for our people? How will the gains outweigh the losses?
How will we bring our people along with us?
How will we consolidate the changes?
In the words of Dr Adenekan, the corporate relations Manager of First Bank Of Nigeria Plc.
Strategic communication provides a conceptual umbrella
that enables organizations to integrate disparate messaging
efforts. It allows creation and distribution of
communications that, while different in style and purpose,
have an inner coherence. This consistency can, in some
instances, foster an echo chamber that reinforces the
organizational message and brand. At minimum, it prevents
contradictory, confusing messaging to different groups
across all media platforms.
Strategic communications also means using corporate or
institutional communications to create, strengthen or
preserve, among key audiences, opinion favourable to the
attainment of institutional/corporate goals.
Going further, strategic communication is the foundation of a solid communications plan which enables an organization to be proactive and be prepared for any communications challenge or opportunities, which may arise from change introduction. A strategic approach to all communication activities, both for internal and external audiences, is essential and positively impact on the “bottom line” – the success of the change. Being ‘strategic’ in communication according to Clampitt and Berk(1991) is based on four levels of planning:
Contextual Analysis – There is need to understand the contextual field in which a change is to be assimilated. The background knowledge about the organization serves as a base for understanding how the change might be perceived. The contextual analysis is an attempt to anticipate possible resistance. The following questions are used to guide the discussion of the contextual issues:
Is the change matching with the culture? (Changes seen as an extension of the culture are more likely to be embraced).
Is the change seen as non-complex and manageable? (More complex changes are often resisted, however)
Is the change seen as advantageous over past practices? (Employees may feel that any change is an indictment of their past work practices).
Audience Analysis – The fundamental principle of audience analysis is based on individual perception – what is persuasive to one person may not be persuasive to another. The objective at this point is to isolate key groups of employees that may be directly and indirectly impacted by the change. For example failure to plan the communication to the ‘survivors’ of a downsizing may create deep fears about their future, that in turn, decrease their effectiveness.
With audience analysis a communication strategy is firstly designed for all employees and, a unique communication strategy for special groups secondly. After identifying the key groups, four critical questions on which premise communications would be based need to be answered:
How will each group be impacted by the change?
What are the groups’ most likely points of resistance?
What are the communication preferences of each group? (Electronic mail may be a proper delivery system for younger employees but older employees may not feel as comfortable with that channel)
Who are the ‘lions’ (Often, viability of change rest on the reactions of key opinion leaders? Therefore, it may be important to look at the individual persuasive preferences of the those key individual that will, in turn, influence other)
Strategic Design – The contextual and audience analysis leads to the development of a strategy. Three key principles underline the strategic plan:
Persuading employees – This is a process and means that one message will not be enough but rather it takes many communicative acts to get employees to ‘buy in’ to change. Suffice it to say that different employees and groups may be experiencing various emotions at various times during the change process.
Communication resources – in order for change to be sustained, the following three questions must be affirmatively answered:
Is there a need for the change?
Is the change the remedy for the concern?
Has significant disadvantage to the plan been resolved?
Choices therefore need to be made what issues to emphasize. For instance, moving into a new office building – if most employees are already convinced that a new office building is needed, it makes little sense to provide detailed analysis of the rationale for the construction. Instead, the focus of the strategy should be on how the remedy meets the corporate needs.
Allocating resources according to the audience analysis – Specific communicative objectives that apply to all the employees as well
as unique ones for specific groups must be developed.
Tactics - The tactics are the ‘how to’. There are five areas to consider in developing tactics.
Channels – This is the means be which the change is communicated to employees. It is better to use multiple channels because it increases the probability that the employees will hear about the change. Announcing changes via electronic mail where only about half of the organization workforce have PC s in their offices would not be effective. Face-to-face meetings allow for rapid feedback and quick adaptation to employee concerns.
Message – Messages should be lined to the audience’s pre-existing thinking routines while the upside and downside of the change should also be discussed. Downside discussion allows for employee input.
Safety Valves – No matter how persuasively change has been advocated, employees will usually have some doubts. It is therefore, important to include safety valves for employees to express their concerns.
Timing – the stages of employee reactions can provide a rough guide to timing. A frequent timing mistake is to make announcement to employees without building in time actively to proactively solicit workers concerns about the change in a supportive environment.
Who – Who communicates something may be as important as what they say. Therefore, there is need to carefully select who will announce changes.
Monitor – During time of change, a lot can be learnt about an organization. As change is monitored, other ideas to continuously improve the communication strategy for future use can be gathered.
Julia Coffman (2004) on another hand, opined strategic communication implies:
Analyzing Situation – this is an appraisal of the facts about the change being addressed. The why, what, who, where and how of the change are adequately treated here. Questions such as why the change?
Why is the change an important issue? What are the messages for the affected audiences? What effect would the messages have on the organization? Who are those who would be affected by the change? And, how do we communicate with the affected audiences?
Setting Organizational goal and key Objectives – A good communications plan identifies the organization’s ultimate goal? What the organization set to achieve by embarking on the change. Will the organization be a better place once the goal is achieved?
Developing Communications Objectives – In developing communications objective, questions such as why the organization is mounting a communication campaign? What the organization wants the targets audience to do exactly, are analyzed.
Defining and understanding the target audience – Identifying the target audience makes communication better. Knowing audience’s needs hopes, fears, habits, and attitudes, gives room for a better prepared, more effective, relevant and meaningful communications. Formal and informal surveys, focus groups, and comment boxes are few examples of information-gathering methods for learning about the target audience.
Developing and Refining Clear and Compelling Key Messages – Key messages meant for the identified target audience should be identified and delivered as frequently as possible. Key words or phrases which best describe the need for the change should be established.
Choosing Effective communications Tactics – Depending on organizational objectives, the target audience, the overall strategy and the budget, examples of communication tactics are media relations, speaking engagements, events and promotions. Ideally, a multi-faceted, layered approach utilizing a range of tactics over a specified period of time is most effective.
Building Multi-Sector relationship and Strategic Alliances – This involves developing relationships, which enhance extend and leverage the internal and external communications capacity. It includes seeking partners who have complementary client databases or who can help open up new markets, develop relationships that offer ways to establish new or non-traditional communications channels to the existing target audience. The key is establishing relationships, which enable the organization to achieve more than it could on its own.
Timing – Timing refers to setting specific date and time lag for actualization of the objectives as well as being proactive to issues before, during and after change.
Spokesperson – This is determining the most credible voice to the key audiences.
2.4. COMMUNICATING CHANGE STRATEGICALLY
One potential problem of implementing change involves perceptions about the magnitude of the change – will employees be scared, resistant, pessimistic or enthusiastic about the proposed change? How can each possible reaction be anticipated and managed? Embarking on organizational change requires asking: what do we want to achieve with this change, why and how would the change be measured? Who will be affected by the change, and how will they react to it? How much of this change can be achieved, and what parts of the change need help with?
To communicate strategically, full understanding of what the other person’s pains are, is of paramount importance in order to intelligently and strategically communicate how to eliminate the pains. Strategic communicators focus solely on what matters to the other person. He or she is concerned about only one thing: how the other can be more successful because of the solutions the strategic communicator is providing. The first step to strategic communication therefore, is to learn as much as possible about the other person’s burning issues.
Reluctance and resistance are direct and predictable responses to the feeling of loss of control, uncertainty, inconvenience, threat to status; competence fears etc, are the main reason why people react negatively to change. It is important to try to diagnose the cause of employee resistance as this will help determine the focus of effort in trying to reduce/remove the issue.
CPID (2007) opined that resistance to change can be considered along various dimension:
Individual versus collective
Passive versus active
Direct versus indirect
Behavioural versus verbal or attitudinal
Minor versus major.
It went further to identify two broad types of resistance:
Resistance to the content of change – for example to a specific change in technology or to the introduction of a particular reward system.
Resistance to the process of change – This concerns the way a change is introduced rather than the object of change per se, for example, management re-structuring jobs, without prior consultation of affected employees.
Management need to be aware of these different criteria to ensure they respond appropriately. Frequency of an organization’s communication efforts – how often and from whom – is a significant factor in determining change’s effectiveness. Organizations have both formal and informal communication structures.
Recognizing the information avenues of information dissemination reduces the risk of inaccurate information passing through the organization. Similarly, there are pitfalls such as one-sided (usually downward) communication, suppression of information, and intentional distortion. Careful thought must therefore go into what is to be said, who is to say it and how it is to be said? Communication should be managed proactively throughout the change period (Coffman 2004.)
Mullaly (2004:89-91) gave the following as strategic methods of communicating change:
Face to Face
Words of mouth – Ordinary conversation can be a very effective way of conveying a message – particularly if it is not seen as a “company message”. Good rumours spread quickly in an organization. With more specific communication, talking directly with the people concerned will be the best way to get the message across and determine the reaction, for example, walking round or getting people on the phone.
Workshops – A workshop format implies free exchange of ideas and a very good way of working in a collaborative style.
Training Courses – For the detailed presentation of information to audiences with specific needs, training course is the most effective. Good training has an interactive nature, which will allow measurement of the degree of success.
Events – To reach a mass audience, special events are for where messages can be presented by management staff and /or identified change agent.
E-Mail – Setting up circulation lists for the various populations that need to receive targeted messages is one way of communicating change messages. Everyone will want read a message from the Chief Executive.
Web Site – Using the organization’s internal website or creating a micro-site for the project is a good way to provide detailed information for those who would be affected by the change. Some form of inducement for people to visit the site, includes placing it with vital company information. As well as straightforward information, to encourage participation by providing interactive features like discussion fora and feedback screens.
Videos – videos can be very dramatic. When the Chief Executive addresses the entire organization from a well-made video it will create a strong impact. The main problems, with videos are the time and costs to produce a good quality show, and the difficulty in getting everyone to watch them.
Streamed Video – Streamed video (a video available through the organization’s intranet which can be viewed from a PC), has similar characteristics to a normal video except for the practicalities of getting people to view.
Company newspaper/newsletter – General messages can be placed in the organization’s regular news media. Typically this is used for general awareness and promoting a good image. A company’s publication can also be useful for recognition, either for the team or for specific individuals as an incentive reward or a well-deserved thank-you.
Project’s newsletter – It may be useful to create a change project newsletter that can be circulated to all interested parties. It would provide general background, who is who, achievements, information about what is happening now, future plans, and specific information that people need. It could also be provided in an electronic format through E-mail or a web site.
Letters – Writing to each individual (particularly if it can be channeled to their home addresses) is the way most likely to gain their attention – partly because hard copy, written business messages are so rare these days. The effect is strongest if a senior management staff signs the letter. Note that internal memos have significantly less impact than letters on headed stationery.
2.5 CHANGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Fred Nickols (2006) citing Benne and Chin (1997) identified four change management strategies:
Empirical-Rational People are rational and will follow their self-interest-once it is revealed
to them. This strategy is based on persuasion, and assumes that individuals are rational and as such they will follow their own self-interest once this is made clear to them. The benefits of a change therefore need to be highlighted and sold to the individuals as being of personal benefit to them. Change is based on the communication of information and the proffering of incentives.
Normative-Re-educative People are social beings and will adhere to cultural norms and values. This approach believes that changing the norms, attitudes and values of individuals will lead to change in their behaviours. (As such this strategy is the reverse of the model Beer et al propose above.) It is based upon core beliefs, values and attitudes. So change will occur as individuals change their attitudes and this leads them to want to behave differently.
Power-Coercive People are basically compliant and will generally do what they are told or an be made to do. This strategy is based on the application of power, with the belief that most people are compliant to those who have greater power. A potential issue with this process is that once the power is removed, individuals may revert to previous behaviours.
Environmental – Adaptive People oppose loss and disruption but they adapt readily to new circumstances. “Change is based on building a new organization and gradually transferring people from the old one to the new one”.
Choice of strategy however, is determined by a number of factors, and according to Fred Nickols (2006), some of the factors to be considered in selecting a change strategy are as highlighted below:
“Degree of Resistance – strong resistance argues for a coupling of power-Coercive and Environmental-Adaptive strategies. Weak resistance or concurrence argues for a combination of Empirical-Rational and Normative-Re-educative strategies.
Target Population – Large populations argue for a mix of all four strategies, something for everyone so to speak.
The Stakes - High stakes argue for a mix of all four strategies. When the stakes are high, nothing can be left to change.
The Time Frame – short time frames argue for a Power-Coercive strategy. Longer time frames argue for a mix of Empirical-Rational, Normative-Re-educative, and Environmental-Adaptive strategies.
Expertise – Having available adequate expertise at making change argues for some mix of the strategies outlined above. Not having it available argues for reliance on the power-coercive strategy.
Dependency – This is a classic double-edged sword. If the organization is dependent on its people, management’s ability to command or demand is limited. Conversely, if people are dependent upon the organization, their ability to oppose or resist is limited. (Mutual dependency almost always signals a requirement for some level of negotiation.)”
2.6 PUBLIC RELATIONS
An organization’s reputation, profitability, and even its continued existence can depend on the degree to which its targeted “publics” support its goals and policies. Public relations specialists – also referred to as communications specialists and media specialists, among other titles –serve as advocates for business, nonprofit associations, universities, hospitals, and other organizations, and build and maintain positive relationships with the public.
In government, public relations specialists – who may be called press secretaries, information officers, public affairs specialists, or communication specialists – keep the public informed about the activities of agencies and officials. As organizations recognize the importance of good public relations to the success of the organizations, there is increasingly reliance on public relations specialists for advice on the strategy and policy of such programs.
Public relations specialists handle organizational functions such as media, community, consumer, industry, and governmental relations; political campaigns; interest-group representation; conflict mediation, and employee and investor relations. They do more than “tell the organization’s story”. They must understand the attitudes and concerns of community, consumer, employee, and public interest groups and establish and maintain cooperative relationships with them and with representatives from print and broadcast journalism. Bowman and Ellis (1969:1) defined public relations as ‘an applied social and behavioural science which among other things plays these major roles:
Measures, evaluates and interprets the attitudes of various relevant publics of an organization.
Assists management in definition of objectives for increasing public understanding and acceptance of the organization’s products, plans, policies, etc.
Develops, executes and evaluates a programme to earn public understanding, acceptance and confidence.
This definition of the concept of public relations subsumes goodwill, understanding, acceptance and public confidence as the fundamental basis for the survival and progress of any organization. Denny (1979:6) opined that public relations is:
The management function, which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest and executes a programme of action (and communication) to earn public understanding and acceptance.
Moore and Canfield (1997:5),
Public relations is a social philosophy of management that is expressed in policies and practices, which, through sensitive interpretation of events based on two-way communication with its publics strives to ensure mutual understanding, relationship and goodwill.
Sam Black (1989) perceived public relations as the establishment of a two-way communication to resolve conflicts of interest by seeking common ground or area of mutual interest and the establishment of understanding based on truth, knowledge and full information. To Grunig and Hunt (1984), Public relations is the management of communication between an organization and its publics.
A definition that has however gained both universal recognition and acceptance for its clarity and simplicity over others is the one put forth by the British Institute of Public relations which defined Public Relations as “the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between and organization and its various public”.
From this definition, it could be inferred that public relations activities are neither accidental nor haphazard. It is a calculated and coordinated process, planned carefully overtime and executed systematically. Today :public Relations is a set of management, supervisory, and technical functions that foster an organization’s ability to strategically listen to appreciate, and respond to those persons whose mutually beneficial relationships with the organization are necessary if it is to achieve its missions and values:. (
Public Relations therefore, is a management function that focuses on two-way communication and fostering of mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics. An effective communication, or public relations plan for an organization is developed to communicate to an audience (whether internal or external publics) in such a way that the message coincides with organizational goals and seeks to belafip mutual interests whenever possible.
2.6.1 PROACTIVE AND REACTIVE PUBLIC RELATHONS
Ajala (1193) defines proactive public relati'ns as that:
“Whibh anahysas the problem before it get out of and apply public relations tools to avert the crisas whereaq the reactive public relations concerjs itself with the solution to the crisis at hand”.
Change management is one of t`e special areas of public reladions which call for management skills bafore, during and after the change prgject. The professiolalism of a public relations practitioner at each nf these st`ges is ufquantifia`le.
2.7 POLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN CHANGE M@NAGEMENT
When an obganization embarks on aly new project, or siiply attempts to change establis`ed processes or procedures, inevita`ly it will enaountEr resistance from individualc as well as formal groups. This opposition appears almost immediately, drawing oj the individual or group’s fear of doing something different.
Resistance ignores the responsibility by the individual or group to take the time to understand the reasoning or need for the change but when the reasoning for the project is not made available to individuals and groups, then a “knee jerk” reaction to protect agendas and self-interests takes place.
Interestingly enough resistance is a normal, and not an abnormal reaction by human beings. Defensiveness is however the counter productive idea. Edward Pfahl, (2006), opined that in creating new initiatives and effecting change, one important piece of the puzzle for the public relations officer is in putting together a communication effort that will do the following five things.
Present the right message
Present it to the right people
Present it at the right time
Present it using the right media (method of delivery)
Present it with the right person (who delivers the message)
Presenting the Right Message
Right from the start, a project has to be clearly defined and understood by the public relations officer him/herself. If a public relations practitioner is not sure of all aspects of the change, it is unlikely that employees will join in acceptance? Once a clear vision of the change has been established, then identification of the different items of detail must be documented and communicated. The messages that will need to be delivered throughout the implementation of the project must be mapped to a project’s timeline. The message can be categorized as follows:
Vision and Benefits – Message that explain the reasoning for the initiative and exactly what are the identified benefits for all of this effort by both management and employee. Clearly communicated vision, mission, and objectives of the change management effort are critical at this stage.
Education – identify key members who must be educated in the capabilities to support implementation. People should be helped to understand how the changes would affect them personally. (If not, people will make up their own stories, usually more negative than the truth.), true communication is a “conversation”. A two-way and real discussion must result. It cannot be just a presentation.
Changes to Process – addressing identified changes to existing organizational processes and procedures. This may require policy and procedure revisions.
Milestones Achieved – Continuous announcements of project successes corresponding to implementation objectives.
Training – identification and scheduling of process task change details, new technical requirement and company expectations.
Impacts to End-users – Management’s identification and actions of correction to current processes and procedures. This includes key “impacts” to the organization, as they become known. Not only must these impacts be identified, but clear action plans to mitigate the impacts must be identified, implemented and checked for compliance.
Presenting it to the Right People
Presenting the initiative to the right people, challenges management to identify the specific groups who will be directly or indirectly affected by the change. Defining these groups aids in the timing of when information will be communicated to each group in order that a logical sequence of implementation events can take-place.
Key categories of “right” groups of people are: Board members, Senior level management, Directors, Middle managers, Supervisors, Union Representatives, End-users (union and non union members), General public. In presenting the message to the people, enough time should be provided for people to ask questions, request clarification, and provide input and answers to questions only if the answer is known. Leaders destroy their credibility when incorrect information are provided or appear to stumble or back-peddle, when providing an answer. It is much better to say ‘I don’t know, but will find out’ than giving incorrect answer.
Presenting Information at the Right Time
Critical to success is the identification of when identified messages should go out in conjunction with the scheduled deployment of the change or initiative. It does no one any good to speak of specific training times and dates in January when the initiative is not scheduled to be finalizes until November. However, a specific topic can be presented at a high level and supported with terms like “more precious detail on training dates and times will be communicated in September” to provide a timeline to the initative.
The public relations officer at this stage acts as a change catalyst by maintaining open lines of communication and engaging relevant individuals, business units and external parties throughout the process. It is necessary to mange people and perceptions, and understand how change affects people, so that strategies can be tailored to suit your organization’s particular situation.
Presenting Information Using the Right Media
Equally important is choosing the right way to communicate the messages to the employees. The public relations officer must communicate consistently and frequency through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, Intranets, and more about the change, all that is known about the changes, as quickly as the information is available.
Again, the public relations officer must understand if the organization communicates better by –emails, large group meetings, small group meetings, one-on-ones, newsletters, or rallies etc.
In most cases it will take a combination of some or all of these to effectively communicate messages. In most organizations, these types of media can be ranked or prioritized fairly easily by management bases on previous exposure to past successes and failures.
Present Message using the Right person
Credibility is the key. The source of the message or information plays a critical role in whether employees accept quickly the change initiative or procrastinate based on who is communicating the information. Normally, major initiatives with sweeping/or broad changes demand s that senior management layout the reasons for and the benefits of the initiative. This needs to be followed by support from middle management. Initiatives of a smaller scale that directly impacted on small segments of employees demand that the leader/manager closest to the end-user communicates the information directly to the affected end-users.
Doing the talking alone is bad, the public relations officers must learn to listen and avoid defensiveness, excuse making, and answers that are given too quickly. Act with thoughtfulness.
Make leaders and change agents available daily when possible, to mingle with others in the workplace. Hold interactive workshops and forums in which all employees can explore the changes together, while learning more. Use training as a form of interactive communication and as an opportunity for people to safely explore new behaviours and ideas about change and change management. All levels of the organization must participate in the same sessions.
Communication should be proactive. If the rumor mill is already in action, the organization has waited too long to communicate and provide opportunities for people to network with each other, both formally and informally, to share ideas about change and management.
Publicly review the measurements that are in place to chart progress in the change management and change efforts. Publicize rewards and recognition for positive approaches and accomplishments in the changes and management. Celebrate each small win publicly.
2.8 PUBLIC RELATIONS APPROACHES TO COMMUNICATING CHANGE
Basic to all public relations, is communicating. Well-planned, effectively handled communications is essential to the success and even existence of organizations in today’s changing world. Every organization, government, business, labour, professional, trade, health, cultural, financial, recreational, educational and public service depends on people – their attitudes, attention, understanding, and motivation can be critical to the success or failure of an organization or idea. Public relations approach includes use of all forms of media and communication to build, maintain and mange the reputation of organizations before, during and after change.
Reputation arises from what is done, what is said, and what others say about the organization. In this age of fierce competition in all sectors, it can be an organization’s greatest asset. Public relations aim to mange reputation in order to gain understanding and support, and influence opinion and behavior. Sam Black (1989) advanced the following public relations approach to solving public relations problems, vis-à-vis change management:
Analysis, research and defining problems
Drawing up a programme of action and budget
Communicating and implementing the progrmme
Research – here the practitioner seeks to define the change. What would be achieved with this change? Why? How would the change be evaluated to determine if desired result has been achieved? Who will be affected by the change, and how will they react to it? How much of this change can the organization achieve? What parts of the change would require help (external consultant)? To Ajala (1993), research is a means to determining the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of the programme to the organization. Opinion research, suggestion box are some of the research techniques that can be used to elicit information from employees and the management.
Action – once a problem has been identified, and a plan for solution worked out, the next step is action. At this stage relevant publics are identified, message is developed; appropriate media selected; budget set and programme written.
Communication – Writing and editing press release, in-house newsletters, speeches, articles and annual reports; Maintaining and updating information on an organization’s website; Preparing and supervising the production of publicity brochures, handouts, direct mail leaflets, photographs, films and multimedia programmes. Right words are used in the right place.
Evaluation – Here, the public relations officer measures the success or otherwise of the change project so as to make corrective adjustments required to guide the organization and to justify the amount of resources put into the project. Criteria for measurement of success or otherwise are also determined at this stage – change in behavior, increased productivity, increased employee morale etc.
3.1 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This study design
The study population
Questionnaire administration, and
The methods of data analysis.
The study adopted the survey method of research. The research made use of an ex-post facto research design in a full explanatory study of strategic communication, change, the strategic methods of communicating change and the public relations approach to communicating change in an organization, the role of public relations in change management in Wema bank Plc.
To what extent could perception of Public Relations be regarded as an organ in change management within an Orgnization?
How will public Relations practices employed by the Organization help in managing change?
To what extent will communication strategy employed by an organization bring about management change?
How will strategic communication affect organizational change management?
STUDY POPULATION AND SAMPLE
The population comprised both management and staff of Ogui Road Wema Bank Plc and Okpara Avenue First Bank Plc while the sample consists of staff in Enugu branches of First bank Nig Plc of the Region, that is Okpara Avenue office, New heaven, Ogui Road, Agbani Road, Garrki, Presidential Road.
The convenience sampling technique was used in selecting a total of 285 respondents drawn from the twelve branches in Enugu. Of the 285 copies of questionnaires administered 265 were returned. The sampling technique is purposive in the respondents were taken from each of the branches. Each of the branches can be likened to a stratum thus a simple stratified sample was also used. Representation of data from all branches in Enugu is therefore ascertained.
The instruments that were used in collating data for this study are:
The questionnaire has twenty-four (24) items, which eighteen (18) are information items on respondents’ perception of change, change communication and the effectiveness of the public relations department of the Banks while six (6) items are on demographics. Combinations of open and close-ended questions were used with items on demographic data coming last.
Two separate interview guides were used for the Head of Cprporate Communications of Wema Bank Plc and Corporate Relations Manager, First Bank Nigeria Plc – Mr. Tunde Lofintinla and Dr. Samuel Adenekan respectively. The interview guide for the Head of Corporate Communications Department. Mr. Tunde Lofintinla covered the following area: Communication strategy employed by the Department in communicating change, effectiveness of the department in change management, Frequency of communication by the Department, before, during and after change project, Public Relations practices employed by the Bank in communicating change etc. while that of the Corporate Relations Manager of First Bank Nigeria Plc, Dr. Adenekan covers the following areas: Essential roles of Corporate Communication manager in change project, Communication strategies that can be employed in communicating change, public relations practices that are appropriate in communicating change, the definition of strategic communication etc.
METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
The data for the study were collected through questionnaire and structured interviews, Participation by respondents was voluntary. Copies of the questionnaires were left with respondents for some days to enable them to have enough time to make their responses. The researcher on the respondents personally administered the questionnaires. Of the 285 questionnaires administered 265 were retrieved. Interview was also conducted with four middle level management staff in the selected branches.
The structured interview for the Head of Corporate communications Department, Wema Bank Plc was cgnducted by the researcher in the Bank’s off)#e in Enugu while that o& the Corporate Relations M!nager of F`rst Bani Nigeria Plc was condUcted vIa the inteRjet. The inTerview gUide wa3 posed online to thd respondent due To his 5nav!ilability as at tHe pariod oF resea2ch (See appendix D for besponse).
In the analysis, each research question is compUted uqiJg frequancy distribution
and simple percentag
3. Calcqlati/n of the percentace is derived by dividhng
the number of the total of all besponse to a p`rtice,ar quection and muLtiplieD it by 100. All quest!ons gathering information on
a particular research question are present%d togethep to depict their results.
D RELIABILITY OF INSPRUMDNTS
The instrulelts most espechalLY the queCtimnnaIrec and the structu2ed InpervieS Guides sere meticulouSly ajd critically appraised by the Project cordinator
s/ as to enrure that they are detailed and comprehensive enough
to alicit responses that widl ultimately provide the Euch nedded answers tg the researc( questions w`ic( were maant to Asce2tain how comhunica4ion an` publ)c re,ations p0actices could be uqEd iN managing ch!.ge, The quertionnaire was reviewed and r%4urned to thd coordInator for final !p0rotal.
Befor% the 2esearch was embapKed upon, a pre-dE1t was c!r2ied out with 3 r%spmndents8 2 mem`ars of ctabf Dach across the 1! bran#hes and th% Regional Offic% in Enegu, 2 each gere aDminister% `monG the Pop, cenior and middle level management staff. Thd pre-test and the
gathere$ contributed imlens%ly in eNsuring that tha instrumEnts werd rdliable and valid fOr t`e stuDy.
DATA ALALYSIS, INTERPREDATION AFD DISCUSSION KF BINDINGS
The analysis /f the data gathered in addressing the research que3tions posed in this presented In This chapter. The data is presented` in tables.
The Method Of analysis used as simple percentage. As noted earlier, 2(4 copies of the questionnaire were administered to 01 branches `nd thd Regional Offhce, out of which 065 were retrieved.
Table 1: Showing distribution of questionnaires administered and number retrieved
First Bank Plc Enugu Regional Office
Wema Bank Ogui Rnad
Percentage ublicity given to business executives, pklitical aspirants !nd/or means of gAiniFg media bovErage
A collection od puBlicity-seeking evdn4s/mean3 of gaiNing media coverage
Mechanized for personal empire building
Management of problems or issues
Helping Management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion
A means of yearly warning signs to help anticipate trends, research and ethical communication technique
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