Explicitly, the Kurt Lewin’s Three-Stage Model of Change include Unfreezing, Changing, and Refreezing (Muldoon, 2020). The initial stage in the transition model, unfreezing, defines creating awareness on the workforce concerning the anticipated change. Further, changing involves organizations in implementing the change by engaging as many employees as possible. Ultimately, the aim of refreezing is to finalize the adjustments and establish an entirely new protocol in the organization. In general, changes intended to be implemented in organizations face a significant deal of opposition. Similarly, following the current economic adjustments accountable to the global COVID 19 pandemic, much of the manufacturing processes in the mid-sized company have had to be moved to a foreign country, and it is feared that the existing workforce is unlikely to accept and cope with the change. However, aligning the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) model with the Kurt Lewin’s Three-Stage Model of Change would potentially guarantee a smooth and effective transition integrating unfreezing, changing, and refreezing with worker buy-in, satisfaction, and productivity (Realyvásquez-Vargas et al., 2018).
Ideally, the most effective strategy would be to initially establish the change in a particular team and later roll it out to the entire group of employees through the initial piloting team. It would be practical and efficient to utilize this experimental pattern of piloting the change in a small team and then extending the change to the other groups. Consider the case that the manufacturing process involves a series of activities to obtain a product, where each group completes a given portion of the product, and the production activities go on to the next manufacturing component until the final product is obtained involving a line of five teams. Preferably, establishing the change would suit engaging the final team in the production process to utilize it later to pilot the change to the other four teams. Notably, the fifth team also comprises the group that delivers the final products to the consumers.
Certainly, the final or the fifth team in the production process would already be undergoing pressure to deal with several adjustments occurring in the prior groups due to the change in location to a foreign country which they would inevitably have to handle to guarantee manufacturing the correct quality of product to the consumers. Consequently, this final team would be adequately prepared to handle the speculated and uncertain demands in the foreign country resulting from the change in productivity from the first, second, third, and fourth teams. Thus, selecting the fifth team to pilot the change would be effective as they already comprehend the situation and even simpler for them since they have already been exposed to dealing with the bigger unpredictable pressures. The team should adequately be prepared and notified concerning the anticipated change that would have to be handled in a foreign country, particularly in the manufacturing setup.
Most outstandingly, communication is vital in this stage (Muldoon, 2020). The final team have to be notified of precision in thinking and an adequately planned framework for the transition comparable to the Plan Do Check Act model. Thus, the fifth team is likely to have the highest degree of acceptance, consideration, and understanding, which comprises an essential factor of piloting the change. This form of thorough planning details the initial P in the PDCA model that would expressly aid in exploiting staff buy-in (Realyvásquez-Vargas et al., 2018).
Indeed, the unfreezing stage forms the critical stage where the company leadership and management should focus on optimizing employee buy-in. Within the PDCA model that adopts the final team in the production process as the piloting group for the transition, the company leadership and management need to ensure that the employees involved in the final and fifth stage accept the anticipated change and decisions arising from production in the foreign country. When the team accepts the speculated changes, they are more likely to embrace the responsibility to enhance productivity and spread awareness on the other teams.
While the anticipated change may not necessarily be accepted fully by all employees, the company’s transition to maintain effective productivity in the foreign country does not essentially require absolute agreement from all employees to the transition but rather need their collaborative support. Ideally, employees may not agree with the changes in organizational procedures in the new setting, but they are bound to support the change. Support does not usually require agreement, and thus some employees in the fifth team or the entire company may disagree or become rigid to the changes, but they will need to be able to back the changes and work to the best of their abilities to maintain productivity. Employee buy-in substantially requires such necessary support from employees to implement the various expected changes to ensure organizational success and efficiency.
The members of the respective groups will need to be encouraged to believe that the company leadership functions and formulates decisions informed by the ultimate interest of all shareholders in the company, inspiring them to support the transition. Notably, the decision of the team’s members to buy into the changes will be influenced by three key aspects; the reasons behind the transition to production in a foreign country, the character traits of the leadership team, and the advantages of the change to all stakeholders. The company leadership would have to inform the state-side employees involved in direct operations with foreign counterparts that while it may be challenging and undesirable at first, it would enhance their working exposure and experience as well as aid them in meeting new personalities and building lasting relationships in their professional network. Equally, informing the employees that the decision to move production to a foreign country had been inspired by the recession in the economy would encourage them to uphold the responsibility to implement the transition and enhance productivity to the best of their capacities for the company’s success. Thus, getting the fifth team agreed on the transition is vital in reaching the other teams and influencing them to buy into the transition.
After the anticipated transition has been addressed in the last team in the manufacturing line and the employees in the team are set to work within the adjustment, it is vital to prepare the team to adapt to any undefined expectations (Muldoon, 2020). While the piloting team is the final team in the manufacturing process, the relevance of the transition and the value of their role and efforts should be reiterated with them. Additionally, the significance of company assistance in this transition situation should not be inflated. According to the PDCA framework, real implementation often results in particular challenges in the manufacturing process. However, periodic assessments to detect any warnings or inaccuracies and responding to such warnings or liabilities appropriately would handle such challenges in the adjustment process in the foreign country (Realyvásquez-Vargas et al., 2018). This concept of implementation is defined in the DCA component of the PDCA paradigm and explicitly helps in enhancing employee experience and satisfaction.
The changing step is conventionally the most challenging step in the transition process, as it involves the actual implementation of the adjustments. This step would involve the manufacturing teams in struggling with the new reality, facing various uncertainties and fear, and requiring the hardest actions to overcome numerous barriers. Employees involved in direct operations with foreign counterparts would have to embrace new behaviours, procedures, and thinking approaches. The more they would be prepared for this step, the more efficient it would be for them to cope with the changes. However, the company leadership and management would have to play a vital role in training the various teams, starting with the fifth team, on how to interact and handle foreign clients and all dealings associated with their work in a foreign environment.
Notably, all employees would have to participate in the training process as it is essential for job satisfaction. Training the employees on the various aspects of working in a foreign country would enhance their ability to perform given tasks successfully, establish desirable feelings, perception, desire, and contentment to work in modified conditions resulting in them being positive and satisfied not only with their job but also as internal stakeholders in the company.
Considering that the fifth team has a higher rate of acceptability to the change, the team would move forward with the change as the anticipated challenges, warnings, or faults are solved. This accomplishment, as well as the transition process, should be conveyed to the other four groups in the manufacturing process. Utilizing the help of the fifth team, which is the piloting team, the change can now be spread to the other teams resulting in a companywide transition. Essentially, the organization should ensure regular collection of feedback from the five teams to ensure that the new organizational activities and culture is established and define them clearly to avoid readopting the prior organizational framework (Muldoon, 2020).
Ideally, the complete PDCA paradigm is simulated in this stage, involving participation from all the organization’s teams (Realyvásquez-Vargas et al., 2018). The most significant benefit of this model is that besides the push from the organization’s management team, there is a big benefit from the final piloting production team in the manufacturing chain, helping the company management to spread the acceptability of the transition to all the other company’s teams and treading in the right direction towards attaining the change. Acknowledging that the changing stage had catered for employee satisfaction, the refreezing stage would involve the management in maintaining the happiness of the workers in working within the new norm upholding high productivity, minimizing absenteeism, and even helping them earn higher wages resulting in increases employee and customer satisfaction.
This PDCA implementation model would substantially aid in matching and enhancing staff productivity. The model could further involve adjustments with the final team, which is also the piloting team, to guarantee customer satisfaction. Indeed, consumer acceptance of the manufactured goods within the foreign country constitutes a key issue to prioritize during the transition process. Consumers may often provide numerous additional modifications or guidelines to acknowledge during the modification process. The change management plan can only be considered efficient if the manufacturing process results in client-accepted products. Thus, adopting this plan guarantees a seamless transition accommodating employee buy-in, satisfaction, and productivity.
Muldoon, J. (2020). Kurt Lewin: Organizational Change. The Palgrave Handbook of Management History, 615-632.
Realyvásquez-Vargas, A., Arredondo-Soto, K. C., Carrillo-Gutiérrez, T., & Ravelo, G. (2018). Applying the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle to reduce the defects in the manufacturing industry. A case study. Applied Sciences, 8(11), 2181.