Two years ago, I was the First Sergeant of a Signal Company. The Signal Company supported an Engineer Battalion with communications. After much discussion between myself and the company commander, we decided to realign the company. As the change initiators, we recognized the need for change (Walker, 2012). We discussed the pro’s and cons at length and decided to proceed with the change. The company had three platoons, each one with different military occupational specialties. To realign the platoons, we made each one have the same military occupational specialties. The purpose of this was so that each platoon could concentrate on training and their specific mission. The outcome was that the company ran more effectively and efficiently. If a tasking came down or we went to the field for training, it was easy to identify who needed to do what. This made my job much easier to manage. I enjoyed making this change along with my company commander as all of the Soldiers in the company seemed satisfied with the change. Armenakis & Harris (2009) state, “in order to survive and prosper, they (leaders) must be knowledgeable about how to implement appropriate organizational changes that will be embraced by their employees” (p. 128).
According to Cawsey, Deszca, & Ingols (2016), I played various roles during this change such as the change agent, the change initiator, the change implementer, and the change facilitator. As the change agent, I was the person responsible for leading the change. Change implementers are the employees who will step up and make the change work (Cawsey et al., 2016). Change facilitators foster support, alleviate resistance, and provides other will guidance and council (Cawsey et al., 2016).
In a different military organization, I was the change recipient. In this situation, I was the person affected by the change. This change involved an organizational transformation. The organization went from being a military intelligence organization to a brigade special troops battalion. During the transformation, the mission of the organization changed, and all the Soldiers had to adapt. This was the first time a brigade special troops battalion had been formed at the installation, so a lot of planning and meetings had to take place. After a few months and some confusion and rearranging, things seemed to fall in place and everyone knew their new role in the organization. What helped is that the senior leaders allowed and encouraged the Soldiers to participate and be actively involved in the transformation. Armenakis et al. (2009) state, “Active participation in change efforts by change recipients also enhances valence by allowing them to participate in implementing difficulties they face and efficacy by allowing them to select changes they feel they can accomplish” (p. 129).
Armenakis, A.A. & Harris, S.G. (2009). Reflections: our Journey in Organizational Change Research and Practice. Journal of Change Management. 9(2), 127-142. doi: 10.1080/14697010902879079
Cawsey, T.F., Deszca, G., & Ingols, C. (2016). Organizational Change: An Action-Oriented Toolkit. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Walker, P. (2012). What’s it like from the inside? Greener Management International. 57, 9-25. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.chapman.edu.
In my particular program area, I work with those in financial distress and often must provide emergency funds for necessities.
I find about 85% of my cases are mismanagement of money (pedicures and manicures are paid for before the utility bills). Once I have a customer and maybe their spouse in my office, I know I have them for only about an hour or two, to try and help them make a paradigm shift with their spending habits. In the military, if a member is irresponsible with their finances, their security clearances may be in jeopardy and then so is their career.
I always have the members bring me their last 30 days of debit card transactions. Truly remarkable a family can make over a 100 debit cards swipes in one month period. In most cases, if they were handling the green cash, this number of transactions would not occur. They do not “see” the debit card is cash (it is), but because it is “plastic” there is a different mindset with using it.
I would like to see myself as a change agent and an initiator in their life.
When I arrived in Korea in the summer 2016 to assume the position of detachment sergeant of a finance detachment, to my surprise the unit did not conduct Sergeant’s Time Training (STT) and therefore the NCOs (team and squad leaders) did not know what is required to conduct training effectively. The challenge here is to mobilize, motivate, organize, orient, and focus the attention of my NCOs on training and how to conduct training effectively. My goal as described in Northouse (2016, p.258) is to “encourage people to change and learn new ways of living so that they may do well and grow. The role I played in implementing this change was as an initiator. As the change initiator my challenge here was to mobilize, motivate, organize, orient, and focus the attention of my Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) on training and how to conduct training effectively. According to (Cawsey, Deszca, & Ingols, 2016) a change initiator is the “person who identifies the need and vision for change and champions the change (p. 26)”. This is exactly what I did; I identified the need for to train my NCOs on how to conduct effective training. I introduced my NCOs to the Army’s 8 step training model as the starting point and within a few weeks and more training the training environment in the organization improved and eventually became the most trained detachment in the Company. As a leader and the master trainer of the organization I felt accomplished at the end of my tenure as the detachment sergeant of the unit.
The second role I played in implementing change is with my current organization, IPPS-A; an organization within the Headquarters, Department of the Army, that has been charged with designing and developing a Commercial Over The Shelf (COTS) personal and pay system for the United States Army. As a senior financial manager, my role in the organization is to ensure that the Business Process Reengineering meets the requirements of Department of Defense payroll system. I am also a member of a network known as the “IPPS-A Change Champions”, a group of individuals that sensitize the general army population on the introduction of the new system. The role I play in this organization is a change facilitator; Cawsey, Deszca, & Ingols (2016), the person who identifies process and content change issues and helps resolve these, fosters support, alleviates resistance, and provides other participants with guidance and council. I feel very honored to be part of this monumental change that is going to transform the U.S. Army and how we conduct business.
I enjoy playing both roles and I will not choose one above the other.
Cawsey, T. F., Deszca, G., & Ingols, C. (2016). Organizational change an action-oriented toolkit. Los Angeles: Sage Publ.