UK Fire and Rescue services are required by law to make preparations to deal with certain non-fire emergencies such as road traffic collisions, provision for other types of events such as water rescue; animal rescue, etc. is a matter of choice. Where, however, any response is made – irrespective of the incident nature – other obligations arise including the health and safety of staff, a duty of care to the public, and operational effectiveness.
One of the greatest challenges that an existing fire and emergency services bureaucrat repeatedly faces involves the running of alteration. The veracity that a contemporary fire and emergency services organization operates in a vibrant environment illustrates the reality of constant change. Change is foreseeable, as is resistance to change. The successful fire and emergency services administrator must thus become a change agent within their organization and must effectively manage organizational change, including the overcoming of resistance to change.
The significance of creating a positive organizational climate, in which each and every individual feels valued and appreciated, cannot be overemphasized. This includes affording organizational members the opportunity to be involved as active participants in the organization and to have input in organizational planning and other initiatives to which they are stakeholders and properly motivating and empowering them, as fine as affording them opportunities to contribute, is influential in creating the desired positive climate. This approach yields significant results in terms of consensus building, an essential aspect of successful management and management. It facilitates the victorious implementation of alternative strategies, as well as strategies sustaining organizational policy.
The organizational change consists of some modification in one or more rudiments of the organization. In current years, frequent changes have taken place in fire and emergency services in such areas as equipment, technology, strategy and tactics, and operating policies and procedures. Organizational change is necessary for an organization to remain effective and efficient, guarantee responder safety, better serve organizational stakeholders, remain competitive, and endure.
The forces for alteration can come from within an organization, as illustrated by a new public education concept recommended by a member of the organization, or from outside the organization, as when preparation principles or regulations change. These forces for change are categorized as internal forces and external forces respectively. Change can be planned or unplanned. Considered change, or proactive change, is initiated by the organization through a hands-on planning procedure.
Hasty change is the result of an organization worsening to plan for change and being forced by exterior developments to make changes.
The effective management of change follows a logical and sequential process designed to enable the change agent to make sound decisions. The change process incorporates the following steps.
- Recognize the need for change.
- Establish goals for change.
- Make a diagnosis.
- Select a change technique.
- Plan for implementation.
- Implement the change.
- Evaluate and follow up as necessary.
In addressing situations where organizational members resist change, the seasoned fire, and emergency services administrator remembers that human behaviour is caused and that there are something inspiring individuals to resist change. It is vital to not sight those persons who resist change as dreadful people but somewhat view them as organizational members with legitimate concerns that must be addressed through apt change strategies. The many reasons that individuals may resist change characteristically relate to individual, group, or organizational dynamics.
The grounds why human beings may oppose change include ambiguity, disclosure, wrong interpretation, unawareness, lack of trust, fear of failure, disturbing side effects, individual conflicts, self-interests, poor timing, different perceptions, a threat to status or security, feelings of loss, and breakup of a workgroup. Discovering and understanding the grounds why people may defy a designed change will facilitate the change agent to select and implement an appropriate change strategy. The six commonly recognized change strategies are:
- Education and communication: is suitable where there is a lack of information or incorrect information about the change. An advantage of this approach is that influenced individuals will help execute the change. It can, however, be time-consuming to involve many individuals.
- Participation and involvement: are used in circumstances where change instigators lack the essential information to devise the change or where others have significant power to resist the change. Participation leads to commitment and change includes all applicable information. This strategy can be very time-consuming and can lead to inappropriate change.
- Facilitation and support: this may be the best approach to some change problems, but can also be time-consuming and costly. This change strategy is used when there is resistance to change due to difficulties in making corresponding or being conformable to the amendments.
- Conciliation and harmony: a sound strategy when a powerful individual or group will lose due to the change. Although it can prove to be prohibitively costly, this approach can be a simple way to avoid major resistance.
- Exploitation and designation: Should be used only where other tactics will not work or are too costly. This can be a relatively fast and low-cost solution to resistance to change, but it can cause future problems if individuals feel manipulated.
- Explicit and implicit coercion: This should be used only when extremely necessary in that it can result in individuals not only resenting the change, but also the change initiator. This strategy is considered when change must be implemented quickly and change initiators have the necessary power. It can be implemented quickly and can overcome many types of resistance to change.
Roles of the fire service administrator
The productive fire and emergency services administrator acknowledges their position as a change manager. This requires knowing that change is incapable of being avoided or prevented in the modern-day organization and that resistance to change is equally inevitable, in addition to understanding the forces that need change and the types of change. In relation to this, the fire and emergency services administrator’s task is to smooth the progress of the change process; they must also understand the reasons why human beings oppose change, and the applications, advantages, and disadvantages of the available strategies for approaching resistance to change. They must be skilled in selecting and applying suitable change strategies.
Review of the probable causes that human beings refuse to accept change and the six change strategies make known that most types of resistance to change can be effectively dealt with through education and communication, participation and involvement, and also facilitation and support; these strategies will be used frequently throughout an individual career as a fire and emergency service administrator. Although sometimes exerting shrewd or devious influence especially for one’s own advantage and co-option, and even clear and implicit coercion, may be worthy of thoughtful, utilizing heavy-handed techniques like these when not extremely needed will compromise the ability to successfully manage and lead.
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