CityU's survey reveals employees' support for management's change practice

Michelle Leung

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Hong Kong employees agree that the management of their respective organizations is using the best possible practices to implement change, although there is room for improvement, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Management (MGT), City University of Hong Kong (CityU).

The “Hong Kong Organization Change Survey 2006”, initiated by MGT, conducted telephone interviews in May with 300 Hong Kong citizens aged 18 or above who are in full-time or part-time employment. The interviewees were asked to indicate their attitudes towards and experience of change in the structure, technology (i.e. work processes, methods and equipment), or people in their organizations.

The results were announced at a seminar entitled “Leading Change: Common Pitfalls, Insights, and Effective Practices” on 2 June. Professor Leung Kwok, Head of MGT, said the survey is an example of CityU’s applied research efforts which aims to find out more about employees’ perception towards change and identify the “best practices” that differentiate high- from low-performing organizations and managers.

“The survey measures employees’ attitudes through a newly created Hong Kong Organization Change Index that has a scale of 1 to 6 representing ascending levels of agreement in terms of ‘Attitude’, ‘Management Change Practices’, and ‘Impact of Change’,” said Dr Christina Sue-Chan, an assistant professor in MGT who carried out the survey.

The findings show that employees agree that their organizations change in order to be competitive (mean = 4.09) and that they are confident in handling change (mean = 4.14). Only 21.67% of respondents are concerned that change means they might lose their jobs. Employees, however, prefer slow (mean = 3.71) to fast change (mean = 2.96), while they only slightly trust in their management organization to implement change (mean=3.70).

The index records a moderate level of employees’ attitude towards change practice (3.45), which means the respondents agree that management organizations are using the best practices to implement change, but there is still room for improvement. The “Management Change Practices” include “explaining reasons for change and benefits from change”; “employees have a say in how and what changes are made”; “management supports employees”; and “management forces employees to accept change”. Those who agree that senior management is performing very well are the ones who are informed by senior management of the reasons for the change and who get involved in the process of change.

The report also shows that employees tend to think that change has a more positive impact on their companies (mean = 4.14) than on their jobs (mean = 3.89).

The seminar was attended by about 60 human resource managers in the industry. Dr Allan Zeman, the Chairman of Ocean Park, was invited to share his successful experience turning round Ocean Park. The other two speakers, Mr Paul Lo, Director of Group Human Resources and Administration of CITIC Pacific Ltd, and Mr Vincent Gauthier, General Manager of Hewitt Associates LLC, shared their experiences and insights managing change.


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