1.1) Informal organization
An informal organization can’t be seen in the organization charts; this veiled organization is rooted from the personal relationships rather than the official ones and is basically based on behaviors and patterns. The informal organization basically focuses on the employees and their relationship with other people.
Various people in this type of organizations have varying powers in their hands and this informal power is their own personal power. Within the informal organizations there are these groups and networks which are the basic drives in these types of organizations like:
Informal groups are created by the employees, they may be formed for recreational activities or serious work related issues. Employees can have varying reasons for being part of these groups, it may be for being approved by others so as to pursue their affiliation needs or it may be because of their strong emotional attachment to the objectives of the group.
Grapevine is the informal channel of communication present within an organization. This is a separate entity and is at time much quicker then the official channel. In the grapevine the information is spread through any direction it need not follow a particular series of command. The information got from the grapevine can come from a janitor who is telling his boss about who is going to be the company’s new vice president or from an employee telling his supervisor about the new feature that is going to be added to their existing product. The information passed need not be based only on work related topic but it can range from who became the next American idol to what a hideous dress the executive was wearing.
The management team usually neglects the informal organizations and thinks that it is something bad for the organization, and, hence they try to remove this from the root. But in reality this is very important; this is the major source of spreading information inside the organizations. It would be terribly wrong to say that this is nothing but rumors- that would be stereotyping.
A research conducted on this type of organization reveals that the grapevine is up till 90% accurate and the information that grapevine provide is better than that of the formal organization. (Caluwe and Vermaak , 2002) So, the bigger question is what should managers do now? They should accept the important of grapevine and then use it to their own advantage. Like by identifying the main individuals in this system and feed them with information they want the employees to hear. So instead of trying to suppress this, the management should change their attitudes and use they power of these informal systems to their advantage hence it can be a means of leading to informal learning.
Managing the informal organization is an easier said than done task, you never know what end result it might led to. It is definite that a sense of balance should be maintained between both the formal and informal organizations. Informal organizations is quite inviting as employees are a part of it even if they don’t know it.
1.2) Formal Organizations
Formal organizations consist of a properly defined structure based on the organizational chart of the corporation which has all the roles, functions and position in the hierarchy clearly defined. It is documented and followed strictly in a traditional bureaucratic organization. The key information in a formal organization is the significance of the official positions given to the employees. The position also determines the authority in the hand of the employee.
2.1) Defining Change
In the present competitive environment the only thing that is constant is change. So it’s quite sensible that an organization has to willingly accept this and adapt them to it. (Partridge , 2007) Our environment teaches us a lot of things it ultimately causes a change in our behavior.
Due to external or internal reasons, businesses experience changes at all moments of their existence. Change can be accounted to reasons such as innovation, expansion, economic transformation, diversification etc. Actually changes take place to grab an opportunity or to be freed of a threat. In any case it is difficult for both managers and employees to adjust to change. (Caluwe and Vermaak , 2002)
There are two types of ways to handle change in an organization: Firstly there is the proactive change in which the organization continuously strives to come up with unique and prospecting ideas to make amendments to the workplace and the way the work is carried out. While the other is the reactive change in which the company reacts to a change when it sees an opportunity or threat lined up for the company in the future. Following the proactive change process organizations can come up with different and new ideas earlier than its competitors, hence gaining competitive advantage which is an asset to any business.
2.2) Managing Change
Both employees and mangers are resistant to changes as a great deal of insecurity and uncertainty is associated with change. But adapting to changes is mandatory for the sake of the company’s vision. Hence initially the organization should educate all of its employees and gain assurance from their side that what the company is doing is for the betterment of the whole organization.
The fundamental nature of true change management is not to enforce changes on the employees but to present employees and bosses with conditions and circumstances and let them decide on their own which steps should be taken for the betterment of the organization. They should then be given the chance to implement those recommendations and suggestions which they have come up with. (Caluwe and Vermaak , 2002) Although this is a really fine technique to manage change but managers may feel resistant to this method, hence managers who are good at empowering their employees and are comfortable with listening to the lower level employees should be appointed for the job.
Self managed and cross functional team working is used as a main method of putting change into practice. These teams ignore the organizational hierarchy and work cooperatively together. Building project teams is the main way of carrying out change management; in this method people truly learn how to handle change by bringing it to the organization themselves.
3) Formal and Informal Learning
Learning is a continuous process and it has been proven that about 70% of the things employee learns is through informal ways. (Prusak and Matson , 2006)In informal learning the process undergone to learn isn’t what a corporate deliberately designs for its employees. It includes the morals, attitude and deeds an individual displays according to his every day occurrences, which he learns from friends, family relatives, from clubs, television, internet searching and even the market place. Accidental learning is also a part of informal learning in this process an individual learns something he doesn’t expect to. (Wallace, 2007)
Whereas formal learning is when the corporation makes a deliberate attempt on its behalf to add some training methodologies that would help equip employees with expertise to attain the organizations targets. It includes the hierarchical prearranged system that is present in formal areas like schools, colleges and work place. Where every change is well thought-out and orderly.
If an employee casually asks his colleague about a job related questions like how to use a particular software then this is informal learning whereas if that same college gives a 1 hour session in explaining that particular software than that is formal learning.
Usually formal learning is done when a major change is to be introduced. This has to be systematically implemented so that all the employees are comfortable with the change. As it is know, people tend to resist change this is usually their last option, so until and unless they see this as the last resort they won’t adopt the element of deviating. Hence the aim of organizations is to show that change is the last alternative their employee have.
The basic constituent that determines goals is emotion. So in order to establish change one has to develop a strong emotional appeal followed by rational thinking to back up your intuition. In the case of informal learning the employees already have the set goals in their minds but in the informal learning not only does the employee have to work with the learners to establish these goals but also drive these goals into meeting the organizations targets. In the informal learning process there is a plan which is in the focus area.
Hence, in the informal learning the learner has the basic idea and is progressing about with it, establishing a steady goal. (Cross, 2006) While the formal learning focuses on clearly defining the purpose of the goal and then aligning it to the organizations aim and then when this is done you have to create a game plan that will help you attain the target. In formal learning you have to create a transparent mental picture in the mind of the employees so he is completely aware of the purpose of the change.
The cost spend on informal learning has increased from what it was in the pass because management has discovered that it is this type of learning which is more effective. Two out of three employees say that their knowledge is built from on the job experience rather that the academics studies. Teaching the employees that they will constantly have to struggle in order to learn, how it is to learn is the aspect the leads the Training & Development cost to decrease and productivity to increase. (Day, 1998)
Formal learning is like brick and informal learning is mortar. One can’t expect informal learning to replace formal learning as it’s an essential element which leads to growth. So if we didn’t have formal learning then we wouldn’t have informal learning either, moreover, if we don’t have informal learning then the formal learning wouldn’t make much big of a difference in the organization. In the starting the employees focus on formal learning in order to establish a base and as they gain experience they start relying on informal learning. So we can see that experience and informal learning is directly proportionate to each other.
Informal learning is relates to an individual, he is attracted towards it hence he is more keen to learning in this manner. Example of informal leaning would be you going to a co workers cabin and inquire something from him. Informal way of education directs the way of “life long education” hence it should be used by supervisors to assist learning amongst the employees and in the 21st century where changes are occurring so rapidly the informal way of learning can help organizations mange changes effortlessly. (Richardson , 2001)
Formal learning is imposed on the individual; he himself doesn’t want to take part in formal learning that is why he is not engrossed in the technique of learning. Typically this type of learning revolves around attaining education and being a part of training institutions. It is ordered and controlled in terms of learning objectives, time interval, matter, process and appraisal and leads to official recognition.
Some of the organizations still neglect the usage of informal ways of learning by spending most of their training funds in formal learning in which the knowledge capacities of individuals is restricted. To implement changes in an organization it is essential that the workers are self directed this facilitates learning, moreover help employees come up with novel ideas and original concepts.
To implement change effectively management should use a participation strategy amongst its employees, this method involves opinions of employees in decision making, scheduling and solving issues related to the organization. If the employees take part in planning and discussion they are keener to work towards coming up with solution to work related problems. Once this behavior is agreed to in a group, others also follow particularly when the power of any formal or informal leader is influential.
In formal organizations the company should provide with an apparent vision for the employees so they know the reason why the change is being carried out. The organization should ensure that the communication process of the entire change procedure is effectively communicated so there is no room for misunderstandings. Furthermore, there should be willingness to adapt to flexible organization rules and policies.
Provide training who are facing adversities in adapting to the change while give rewards and encourage the “champions” to do even better in the future. Moreover provide well-timed information and grant sufficient resources to the employees so they can help in the change procedure. It is also critical for the managers to always be straightforward to the employees; if they suspect any insincerity from their superiors they will not be ready to accept the changes.
The methods organizations can imply to execute informal ways of learning in your organization is by supporting the development of informal workgroups. Try to end up in accidental learning and talk about it to enhance the learning process. Tell employees that they should share informally accumulated acquaintances with peers in a formal manner. Also all the employees working in an organization should be informed about all the unofficial programs functional in an organization and should be encouraged to contribute to them. (Cross, 2006)
There should be a frequent use of cross functional gathering of people; also the employees shouldn’t be so overworked that they do not have time for casual talk time. Charles Handy commented on informal learning by saying that the finest learning takes place in the real world where there are practical issues and actual people rather than in classes and formal training sessions.
4) Example of a Radical Change
Take the example of the 1980’s where saw the rush of the personal computers and IBM was positioned as the “king” in the market in the however following that there was an enormous rise in popularity of the brands Intel and Microsoft.in the 1990’s the internet brought a revolutionary innovation in the world which transformed the entire market. The technology related field is experiencing change at an extremely high rate. All organizations experience changes but with different degree of variation. In this example the company should adapt to a formal manner of learning as the change is complex and new to the employees, hence if the organization leaves them alone to adapt to the change they might get confused
Previously what change management was that the companies waited for the change to take place and took actions later, this can be a huge problem in recent times, and companies be forced to extinction due to their resistance to change. (Partridge , 2007) With IBM’s personal computers the programme was an extra ordinary effort that produced great results. It has been rightly said by Steven Kerr that the future is approaching so swiftly that we cannot possibly forecast it all we can do is learn how to respond promptly.
Intel is an example that uses informal learning procedure in an organization; they have come up with Intelpedia an in house wiki. This enables their employees to contribute knowledge and team up together. Using this wiki provides guidance to the new recruits what Intel is all about and keeps them posted on the recent and forthcoming projects at Intel Corp. (Caluwe and Vermaak , 2002)
Organizations that participate in ongoing change see competitive advantage for it in the past, present and the future. Instead of sticking to one idea the aim should be to continuously innovate. In support of companies like Nokia and 3M they are constantly under pressure to come up with revolutionary ideas. The advantages of coming up with productive change could last for years, months, or only a day.
Firms adapt to changes to remain different but the fact is that nowadays alterations itself are unique. In today’s world changes are so doubtful and the pace of it has increased so rapidly that it has become a challenge for the organizations to deal with managing change effectively. To successfully implement changes it is critical for the organization to involve its employees and giving them an opportunity to voice their opinions.
Formal and informal ways of learning are both crucial to implement changes and innovative ideas in an organization. When to use both these ways depends on the situation, if the situation to be put into action is lengthy and complex also the employees are less experienced then the formal way of learning should be promoted, otherwise when there is an experienced lot of people and the situation is short and deals with people’s emotions then the informal mode of learning should be applied. (Wallace, 2007)
The companies who do not pay attention to informal learning, their learning abilities will be limited. That is why informal education should be functional side by side with formal mode of education, to make the learning process in an organization effectual. (Richardson , 2001) The objective of an organization should be to try to fuse formal methods of learning to informal ways. As learning is a process that can be recurred hence it should be incorporated with formal methods of learning. This will enable large pools of information to be shared and retained which will help learning further flourish in an organization. (Caluwe and Vermaak , 2002)
There is no perfect learning methodology, and being a leader you can always come up with new and bright ideas but the point is that a leader should never let the informal way of learning come to a halt as it supports the process of learning. (Day, 1998)
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