Managing Culture and Leading Change — Supermarket Chain

Keywords:  Change implementation, Organizational culture and change, Role of HRM to implement change, Strategic Change, Leadership and Change Management, Resistance to change, CEO and Organisation Culture change, Change management assignment writing


According to Jones (2012), change is an inevitable phenomenon which needs to be carefully managed to ensure that organization continue to exist. In today’s competitive world, organizations face the number of challenges which force them to change and adjust according to the new scenario.

Therefore, Change management is concerned with transforming the present state of an organization to the desired future state It involves the range of measures and activities in an organization which is important to initiate and execute the changes in the structure, strategies, processes as well as the behavior of patterns (Moussetis, 2011).

However, despite the organization readiness of change, 70% of the organization change program fails to achieve the desired and intended outcome (Balogun and Hailey, 2008). Consequently, According to Ansoff (1987), leadership can make significant contribution for successful change implementation in an organization.

This report examines the change management process at the large supermarket chain. The three areas focused in the report are; 1) How Chief executive Officer (CEO) will lead and implement change; 2) How organizational culture impact the change program and CEO role to overcome cultural difficulties; and 3) role of human resource department to assist CEO to implement the change.

Strategic Change at Super market

Boje, Burnes and Hassard (2012) stated that the change at supermarket involves making major changes on how organization does business. The change based on the competitive pressure includes cutting back on development of large out of town stores, developing neighbor stores, selling the non-core business and competitive with new low-cost, no-frills companies.

The turnaround strategy involves major to corporate policies, mission and structure changes of the company. The new corporate and business strategy will change the culture, structure and processes which will affect the internal and external stakeholders of the organization (Aaker, 2011).

Classification and type of change

Barger and Kirby (2004) elaborated that change in an organization can be classified according to extent of change required and the speed of the change. The extent of change involves the degree to which organization will affect from the change. The extent of the change involves transformation (New paradigm required) or realignment in which changes in current assumption and belief of organization. On the other hand, speed of change is either incremental or Big Bang (Balogun and Hailey, 2008).

types of change management

It is evident that large supermarket chain is experiencing the change which will transform (evolution) the organization. Nevertheless, change will be implemented in incremental manner through interrelated initiatives as change is need for the anticipation of the future (Newton, 2013).

The evolutionary nature of the change involves convincing people through purposing and negotiating with people to implement hard and soft changes at the supermarket. The hard changes such as development of the new stores fairly easy to define, resources requirement will be known with define courses of action. On the other hand, a soft change such as changing organization culture and practices requires careful planning and measure the outcomes (Paton and McCalman, 2008).

Planned vs. Emergent Change

Traditional planned change management strategies involve sequential steps deployment in order to alter the individual and organizational behavior. Lewin (1951) is pioneer of the planned change management model who has proposed the three stage model. The fundamental factors on which the model is based are field theory, dynamics of the group and action research (Cummings and Worley, 2014).

Emergent approach believes that organization exists in rapid and continuous changing environment and change cannot be managed from top to bottom approach. According to (Todnem, 2005) emergent change approach is more useful to focus on the facilitating the change and provide the readiness for the change. The two widely used approaches for the emergent change management is ‘kotter’s Eight-stage process for organizational transformation’ and ‘Kanter model which is ‘commandments for change execution’ (Todnem, 2005).

Leadership and Change Management

Kupers (2013) discussed that the leadership is viewed as a process which involves influencing others to understand and get agreement what is required and how it should be done. The five competencies leadership should demonstrate include; 1) anticipating the external events and creating case for change; 2) Finding alternatives to sustain changes through competencies and structural changes; 3) Building effective and motivated team of employee; 4) setting goals and ensure plans are implementing as well as monitoring the plans; and 5) effective communication, team mentoring along with strategic evaluation (Higgs and Rowland, 2015).

Leadership role is to provide direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring the stakeholders to produce change at dramatic level and extremely useful. For large super market, Change is ‘complex procedure’ with ‘one look’ of the CEO to implement the change in the organization. The role of the CEO is to implement the change program through emergent change management approach will help to implement the change in gradual manner, proposed solution as well as make decisions (Holbeche, 2007).

CEO Approach to leading change at supermarket

Kotter eight steps of change management
Kotter eight steps of change management

Establish a sense of urgency

It is fundamental to communicate the urgency for the change in order to avoid the loss momentum. The CEO should communicate the need for the change to all stakeholders that if organization fails to respond to the competitive pressure, it may endanger its survival. The customer demand and shopping patterns from neighborhood store need to deploy new strategy and stay competitive in the market (Hoffman, 2012).

Create a guiding coalition

Donovan (2014) stated that it is not possible for CEO to implement the change program on its own. Despite the fact that change program is devised at the top of the organization, it is important to buy all stakeholders and communicating change to stakeholder to achieve their support.

Developing vision and strategy

Vision is the desire future state of an organization which is sensible and appealing. The new vision of the supermarket would be ‘Meeting customer needs and focus on the core competencies.’ The new corporate and business strategy to compete in the market’ is required (Campbell and Yeung, 2014).

Communicating the change vision

It is important to successfully lead the change that CEO communicate the vision to all internal and external stakeholders of the organization. The endorsement for the change by CEO will help to deliver the need for change and its importance (Lewis, 2011).

Empowering people to act on vision

Murari (2015) elaborated that it is true the success change initiative comes from the people who are most close to task. The participative leadership style helps to achieve the objective of the organization through goal congruence and accountability. Employee empowerment will help to create of involvement and sense of responsibility.

Creating short-term wins

To successfully lead the change, it is important that CEO keep the momentum. It is important that CEO capitalize the short-term wins. One of the best strategies to deploy at stage involves implementation of kaizen tool. For example, CEO can share the number of small convince stores open in the one year in the neighborhoods (Kotter, 1999).

Consolidating change and producing more change

CEO must more changes to system, procedures and policies to successfully implement the change. The employee involvement is important to implement the vision as well as CEO keep the change process alive through celebrating and communicating the achievements of the organization. The focus should be middle to long planning of the company.

Institutionalize the change (integration into culture)

Kotter (2007) highlighted that once the change is implemented, it is important that new system and procedures are integrated into culture of the company. The CEO needs to ensure the sustainability of the new processes. It is important that connection should be made between successes of the organization and new behaviors.

Employee Resistance to change

Cameron and Green (2015) evaluated that the acceptance of the change program by the employee of the organization is fundamental to success of the change initiatives. Resistance to change is the actions taken by the individual and group when they feel threaten. In other words, resistance is lack of employee acceptance to support the desire future state. The factors behind resistance could be job factors such as fear of unemployment and new working condition. The social factors include people dislike people or rejection of change as well as personal factors includes fear of less valued and work becomes monotonous  (Val and Fuentes, 2003).

The five stage through human go through are denial, anger, bargaining depression and acceptance.

The Change Curve model -- reaction to change

CEO and managing resistance to change

Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) have proposed six approaches to deal with resistance to change. The six approaches are education and communication, participation and involvement, facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement, manipulation and co-option and implicit and explicit coercion (King and Anderson, 2002).

Sr. No.ApproachSituationAdvantagesPitfalls
1Education + Communication


During lack of information or inaccurate informationOnce understood, easy to implement changeIt might a lot of time to communicate with stakeholders
2Participation + InvolvementWhen initiator do not have power and there is strong resistance (union)People will show support and implement changeTime consuming and lack of participant skills
3Facilitation + SupportWhen there is adjustment problemEasy to remove resistanceCost could be major issue
4Negotiation + AgreementWhen one group is losing because of change.Easy to deployTime and cost
5manipulation + co-optionWhen other techniques are expensive or difficult to deployInexpensive solutionLegal and future problems
6implicit +            explicit coercionWhen change agent have powerSpeed and can overcome any issueRisky and unethical


The CEO should deploy the education and communication approach to deploy and manage the change at supermarket.

Organizational Culture and change

Handy (2011) explained that culture encloses as set of values, belief and understanding in the organization. According to Charles handy, culture is defined as “the way we do things around here”. Culture is collective programming of the mind which is useful to differentiate the one group of the people from another. The organizational culture of the organization is a comprehensive package of language, professional symbols used by organization, mission, norms, vision, habits and beliefs of the staff of the organization (Smith, Farmer and Yellowley, 2014).

McKinsey 7s model is useful to understand and examine the culture of the organization. McKinsey 7s model highlight the culture highlight share values, skills, staff and style as soft element. On the other hand, strategy, structure and system are the classified hard elements. Management can easy define the hard element and can directly influence the factors. Nevertheless, the soft elements are difficult to describe and have more influence on the culture of an organization. Therefore, cultural change is concerned with share belief and values rather focusing on strategy, system and structure (Egner, 2009).

McKinsey 7S Framework
McKinsey 7S Framework

Culture of the organization and impact on the change program

To successfully implement the change program, focus should be on share values otherwise change program may fail to bring the desired change in an organization. For example, if supermarket does not have people who can manage supply chain for number of small stores, then might endanger the success of the neighborhood stores. Organizational culture is shared belief and value of the people in an organization which are mutually shared and it is effect by the leadership and personal values and belief of the people. Organizational culture is an important component to implement and sustain change as well as execution of strategies and goals of an organization (Holyoak, 2002).

For its growth and availing the opportunities present in the organization, every organization has to bring some changes in its management and other structure of organization like culture and business operation methods. If the relationship between the changes in the culture and business operation changes has been maintained, then there are greater chances of the growth for the organization (Harsh, 2011).

Schein (2010) elaborted the dimensions of the culture are explained by the cultural web present by the Johnson, (Johnson, Scholes and Whittington, 2008) as well as the artifacts explained by the level of culture model. The cultural web highlights the six dimension of the organisation which are (symbols, power, control, structure symbols and rituals) the level of culture define as artefacts, values and the way done in an organisation. Therefore, it is important to examine and change every aspect which made up organisation culture rather looking at the few elements only.

Another model is iceberg model of culture in which changes are usually applied the top of the iceberg while ignoring the process and basic assumption as shown in the diagram below. If supermarkets apply the change only at the top and ignoring the basic assumption such as ritual and routine, it will directly impact the change program and fail the change program (Wellein, 2008).

The Cultural Iceberg
The Cultural Iceberg

CEO and Organisation Culture change

In order to effectively bring the change and minimise the problem, it is necessary to effectivley change the views of the people and attitudes. The process of person involve in supporting and accepting is important and can be broken into three stages. These three stages are put forward by the kurt lewin (Lewin, 1951). The three stage model is shows in the diagram below.
The unfreeze stage involve changing exisiting behaviours, the change involves learning new attitudes and refrezze involve enforcing the new behaviour.

Lewin's 3-Stage Model of Change
Lewin’s 3-Stage Model of Change


Miner (2012) stated that the unfreezing involves changing existing behaviour by communicating with stakeholders and buying the staff to implement new behaviour. The CEO need to ensure the soft and hard element should be carefully managed to change behaviour and minimise the cultural problems. One of the useful tools that can be used at this stage is lewin force field analysis. This helps to identify the restarting and driving force.

It is important that existing behaviour should be changed through strengthening existing force and weaken the driving force.

Change behaviour

The CEO should provide resources which help to deploy cultural inventions. For example, CEO should deploy the ‘organisational development strategy’ to express the core values, communicate the vision, storytelling, artefacts, symbols, skills or routines. The application of the meaningful cultural interventions will help to change the cultural at supermarket (Boonstra, 2013).

Force Field Analysis - Kurt Lewin change management


Once people understand and develop new behaviours, it is important to ensure that people stick those behaviours. The new cultural and behaviour change should be institutionalised to minimise the difficulties. For example, the new work practices for inventory and changed working hours, uniforms or symbols should stay. The focused is to ensure that employees should revert to old behaviour (Burnes, 2004).

Role of HR Department to support CEO for change

According to the resource-based view, (RBV) employee are an important asset of an organisation.  Moreover, resource-based view focus on the internal resources and in context of HR the skills, knowledge and behaviour of the employees are important source of competitive advantage for an organisation. Moreover, it is believed that HR practice can be the source of competitive advantage through the development of resources which add long-term value to the organisation (Tansky, Heneman and Greenberger, 2006).

Foot and Hook (2008) discussed the how HR deal with the  people aspect of the change. the policies and procedure design to hiring the required people, training, promotions and fulfilling the staff requirement can play the significant role in HR practice and support for the CEO. For example, the management plans to open 50 small stores and close down various department. Therefore, HR department can provide support the CEO in terms of staff planning. How much exist staff can be transferred and what skills and competencies of employees are required to successfully open and manage the store (Donovan, 2014).

Role of HR in Change Management

HR department can assist the CEO and other members of management to communicate, consult, engage and involvement of the workforce to communicate the need of change and vision of the management. In addition, HR department can design training and development programs which support the new strategy set by the CEO in order to provide the workforce to manage the new task. For example, during the phase of leading change HR department can provide support to CEO to communicate the urgency for change. The HR department can help to communicate the why change is needed through workshops and training (Conway and Monks, 2008).

Rees and Smith (2014) added that HR department can support the CEO through providing motivation to the people for the need of the change and communicate the quick wins as well as the celebration of the achievements. HR department can assess the abilities of the people to support the vision of the CEO and other members of management. The provision of training and skill development will help the people to understand their capabilities and change behaviour through learning new skills. The HR department can help the people to adjust according to new situation and helps to minimise the uncertainty in the situation. The uncertainty and ambiguity are  the major source of stress and people detail to change. Therefore, clear direction and support will help to minimise the resistance to the change (Smith, Farmer and Yellowley, 2014).

Weiss (2012) elaborted that HR department can help the CEO to successfully implement the change through developing understanding among the people why change is needed. It can help to communicate the future picture rather each individual put change in their own context.  It can help the CEO to deliver the information to the employee in terms of what is going on and what need to achieve to minimise the stress and resistance from the employees. Another important task HR department can perform is an alignment of resources to support the change. In addition, social support will help to the integration of the employee with the change management program. At last, not least, it can help to buy-in the people in the management program.


Change is a continuous process and in order to effective manage the change role of leadership could not be emphasised less. The change experienced by the large supermarket change is evolutionary which involve changes in culture, process, structure and strategy of the organisation. Nevertheless, the implementation will be managed through incremental steps. The CEO can effective lead the change through using the Kotter change management model. The communication for the need for change, changing behaviour and reframing the new paradigm is critical for implementation of change.

The culture of the organisation of organisation is made of a number of factors which can identify and examined through mickensey 7s model. The culture and behaviour of the people can be changed through Lewin model. Nevertheless, to overcome the problems of change, it is important that CEO manage every aspect of organisational culture rather looking at few elements. At last, not least, HR department can provide vital support to the CEO and management through communication, resource alignment and translation vision into action.

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