Experiencing the need to change

The first stage refers to managers and employees becoming aware of the challenges their organisations are facing. Both groups emphasise the difference between previous times—when values such as openness, collegiality, good communication and teamwork dominated—and present times when these values become less recognisable.

Relevant quotes suggest that the ‘normal’ state had been heavenly:
‘I think we [at Longhurst] have a very tolerant culture…’ (4.46.2).
‘[Eden] staff have always been made to feel valued’ (5.47.1).
‘..[Eden] members of staff are also encouraged to work from home depending on their circumstances. Training and development are actively encouraged and promotion is encouraged internally’ (2.3.2).

Before the organisations attempted large-scale changes, the need for managers to treat employees with respect appears to have been negligible. In all four companies, when it was decided to change, there were two first reactions, both at the same time. The first was to increase variety—make plans, extend development into the future, look for new resources, etc. The second was to restrict the variety that employees could contribute via extra discipline and ‘hard’ measures, for example:
‘It [power] is not abused but at times, hard decisions have to be made [at Eden]’ (9.9.2).
‘Some managers [at Laurens] do not have the right ideas for [the] job and as such do not have a good relationship with staff. They get easily annoyed and start shouting on staff if things go wrong’ (3.17.2)

Effort and time are being spent (by managers and, in some cases, by trade unions) to create what Höpfl (1992) refers to as the 'right' or desired employee. Individual differences and skills are downplayed. Notions of choice and involvement start to be replaced by increasing emphasis on who is ‘boss’ (Handy 1995: 7, 39; Rocha 1999).