Leadership involves every aspect of an organization's operations. Leaders are faced with different situations that require their input in terms of decision-making. Leaders also facilitate organizational changes through policies and behavior. However, these changes can be inhibited or facilitated by various factors. This section highlights the drivers and barriers for change in Microsoft Corporation.
Drivers for Change
Based on Lewin's force field model, change does not happen on itself; therefore, organizations are advised to develop a vision for a better alternative (Connelly, 2017). In Microsoft Corporation, this concept of Lewin's force field model is identified through the COE's commitment to advance change. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft Corporation identified that change cannot exist on its own, people must be involved. Some of the forces for change in Microsoft Corporation include the need to increase profitability, uncertain operating environment, and changing technologies.
The need to increase the organization's profitability is one of the key drivers for change in Microsoft Corporation. According to the company, the reorganization is aimed at improving the employee engagement and roles, which is expected to enable future revenue growth (Weinberger, 2017). According to Weinberger (2017), Microsoft Corporation is implementing changes to improve its customer service, which will help improve the company's revenue income through increased sales. As a profitable organization, the aim of Nadella is to ensure that Microsoft Corporation increases its revenue every year. However, this requires strategies to ensure that the company achieves such aspiration. As Weinberger (2017) explains, Microsoft Company is a fast-growing business with an $18.9 billion run rate. The decisions by the company CEO, Satya Nadella to reorganize the sales team about one year after the exit of chief operating officer (COO) is aimed at reforming the firm's sales organization to improve its revenue growth (Weinberger, 2017).
Uncertainty in the operating environment and changing technologies also influence change in Microsoft Corporation. With the growing technology, Microsoft is left to deal with competitors who also provide software computer products in the market. According to Nadella (2017), anything is possible for the company when its culture revolves around the three aspects of listening, learning and harnessing individual's passions and talents. The company has been working towards eradicating innovation through encouraging innovation. According to Nadella (2017), the culture change in the company is centered on exercising a growth mindset in three different aspects that he identifies as curiosity and desire to meet customer's unmet needs with great technology, seek diversity and inclusion, and encourage teamwork. For Nadella, the decision to change the organization's culture has been mainly caused by the need to deal with the increasing competition. Nadella (2017) argues that Microsoft Company works as one and not a confederation of fiefdoms. In his opinion, innovation and completion do not respect the company's silos. In this way, it is the responsibilities of the management to lead by designing a process of change that can help the firm achieve its aspirations. Being the leading software manufacturer in the world does not come easy. Through innovation, Microsoft aims to consolidate the resources including talented and skilled human resource to make the dreams believable and ultimately, achievable.
Barriers to Change
As much as there are drivers for change, there is also the resistance to change in the organization, Lewin's force field analysis model identifies that the resistance to change is inevitable, but not impossible to overcome. In Microsoft Corporation, some of the restraining forces include communication problems, fear of the unknown, and failure by the management responsible for the change.
Communication is an important internal issue in Microsoft Corporation. Even though the company has an internal mechanism to ensure that there is effective communication in the organization, but the company still aims at improving its interaction and relations with the key stakeholders like employees. Employees may not understand the need for change; this can result in misunderstanding for the purpose of change. However, poor communication and inadequate information can further escalate the misunderstanding.
Secondly, fear of the unknown is another barrier for change in Microsoft Corporation. When there is a change and it is not effectively communicated to stakeholders, it may result in fear and anxiety, especially among employees. Nadella's reorganization is one of the proposed changes in Microsoft Corporation that may create anxiety and fear among employees. Even though the changes are in line with the founders' principles, but the employees may associate it with the harshness. Nadella is tough of course, but employees may feel that they are getting pressured. As Etherington (2014) explains, Nadella thinks that the company, through its employees, has a unique and distinct perspective and advantages regarding the products and services it offers to customers. However, with the need to improve its performance and customer experience, the employees may feel pressured by the management.
Lastly, failure by the management responsible for the change is another key barrier to organizational change. Based on Lewin's force field model, change cannot exist on its own without facilitation (Connelly, 2017). However, the management is responsible for not only planning and designing the desired change but also ensures that it is effectively implemented. The implementation, however, needs to be facilitated and led by the management. Lewin's force field model explains that a change in the organization can be resisted not because it is ineffective or bad, but because of the poor way in which it is managed. Some of the areas where the management fails in effecting change include; failure to explain the need for change to key stakeholders who are directly affected by it, to provide adequate information, to consult, negotiate and provide support as well as training required, engage people in the process, create trust and sense of security among the concerned parties, and also failure to build trust with the employees. At some point, some of these or all of these points can attribute to resistance to change in the organization. In the case of Microsoft Corporation, it is obvious that Nadella would want to increase the company's competitiveness and revenue income through innovation and improved workforce, but this change can be resisted by employees because the management has not explained to them the need or purpose for the change. From his statement that "our products will be better, our products will be better, and our customers will be better served," the management seems to be focused on the need to minimize the external barriers for change while forgetting to focus also on the internal issues such as employee relations (Nadell, 2017, p. 4).
Critical Evaluation of Force Field Model
Change is inevitable, but before it occurs, the equilibrium must be upset either by adding the favorable conditions to effect the change or reduce the resisting forces (Connelly, 2017). Based on Lewin's force field model, Connelly (2017) explains that whenever the driving forces are stronger in the organization than the restraining forces or barriers, the status quo will change. This can help understand how Microsoft's employees and management move through the change and why some people would resist change. Through the three stages of Lewin's force field model, Nadella aims at effecting the change of reorganizing by unfreezing the existing structure, moving towards the desired change, and freeze the change so that to allow implementation of the new change. As Etherington (2014) explains, Nadella wants to paint a new picture of his reign at Microsoft Corporation as a time of change if he can stick to his plans. Change can be good and also bad sometimes. However, the management needs to understand what makes people accept or resist change including values and experiences so that it can make the necessary changes that will not be objected. In the case of Microsoft, Nadella may want to improve the organizational changes, but as a multinational company, he has to consider values and experiences of key stakeholders in different regions of operations. Employees in Asia or in Europe branches will not behave the same way the Americans do. Therefore, understanding what can make them accept or resist a change requires developing self-awareness and emotional intelligence that can help one understand these forces (Connelly, 2017). In this case, it is the behavior of others that will alert the leader to the existence of driving or restraining forces.
Connelly, M. (2017, April 24). Force Field Analysis-Kurt Lewin. Change Management Coach. Retrieved from https://www.change-management-coach.com/force-field-analysis.html
Etherington, D. (2014). Microsoft CEO Gears the Company for Change, and a Renewed Focus on Productivity and Platforms. Techrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2014/07/10/microsoft-ceo-gears-the-company-for-change-and-a-renewed-focus-on-productivity-and-platforms/
Nadella, S. (2017, September 21). Satya Nadella: The C in CEO stands for Future. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/40457741/satya-nadella-the-c-in-ceo-stands-for-culture
Weinberger, M. (2017, March 08). Microsoft's recent Sales team shake up was the 'most significant' in the Company's 42-year History (MSFT). Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.pulselive.co.ke/bi/tech/tech-microsofts-recent-sales-team-shake-up-was-the-most-significant-in-the-companys-42-year-history-msft-id7086633.html
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