The Biannual Performance Review Change in Atlassian Company – Organization Transformation Change

Introduction

            Most organizational change initiatives fail to yield the desired outcomes (Cummings & Worley, 2015). However, some organizations have successfully, initiated and sustained change initiatives, yielding the desired outcomes. The Atlassian Company is an example of such an organization, which was able to Initiate and sustain its change initiative in its performance review, achieving the desired performance levels. The Atlassian Company specializes in the development of softwares for organizations all over the world. 

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In 2011, the company management realized that its traditional ratings-based in its biannual performance review was not providing the company with the desired outcomes. The company embarked on change initiatives to overhaul its biannual performance review. The company was able to adopt a more efficient performance review system owing to its excellent change initiatives. The following is a review of Atlassian change initiatives.

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Plan Analysis

            The Atlassian Company performance reviews were not achieving the desired outcomes since the reviews were infrequent and employees dreaded them. In order to address the problem and adopt a more favored less numeric and continuous review process, the company thrashed its existing review process. The adopted review process would engage employees and would be done on a monthly basis. The company change process was made a success owing to its excellent change plan that was adopted by the organization management.

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            According to (Kutz, 2011), effective change initiatives can be achieved through an effective communication and change management. The initial step in the Atlassian Company change management plan involved stakeholder analysis. The change in Atlassian Company was internal, since they were initiated by the employee discontent with the existing performance reviews. The management realized the need for change to adopt a more efficient method, and conducted organizational stakeholder analysis to determine the organization readiness for the change initiatives. The organization sought the input of the employees in determining the type of new performance review processes to be initiated.

            The Atlassian human resource management played an integral role in the change process. The human resource management was involved the determination of organizational weaknesses, strengths and the aspects of culture that need to be changed. Initially, the company determined the target audience, set the communication goals and identified the communication strategies to be employed.  Therefore, the organization decided that rigorous top-level manager training was inevitable. The decision to involve the top-level management in a top-down approach was informed by the fact that effective change starts with the management. The company, through its human resource management conducted the top-level manager training to introduce and communicate the new change initiatives.

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 The human resource management acknowledged the need for good communication of the change initiatives, for intended outcomes could be achieved. According to (Lukka & Partanen, 2013), the major role of communication of change is to eliminate uncertainty, ambiguity and frustration. According to the authors, most of the organizational employees, especially those affected by change are often worried about the possible impact of the change initiatives on their jobs. The decision of the organization human resource management to conduct organizational training on its top-level manager was intended to reduce resistance to change by elucidating the change initiatives and making the management part of the change process. Moreover, the top-level managers would train the respective departmental employees.

Moreover, the organizational analysis in Atlassian Company identified the organizational culture that needed to be aligned in readiness for the new organizational culture that would introduced by the new change initiatives.  According to (Kammerlander, 2012), change initiatives introduce new culture, which are meant to create clarity and focus within the organization. According to the authors, organizations culture defines the way things are done, the values and beliefs, which govern how people behave. In Atlassian Company, the new change initiatives would introduce new performance measurement metrics, which would be done monthly, unlike the previous infrequent reviews.

The new organizational culture needed to be ingrained within the organization for the intended change initiatives to be effective. Through the employee training, resistance to change would be eliminated. Therefore, the Atlassian human resource management training included hands-on training on the procedural aspects of the new performance measurement techniques. The top-level managers in the respective units in the organization, performed training of their line employees to acquaint them with about the new performance measurements. The strategy helped the organization to achieve an organization-wide understanding and reduced resistance towards the new change initiatives. After the organization-wide training had been achieved, Atlassian Company performed an evaluation to determine if the intended goals were achieved. Change was initiated, sustained and employee focus enhanced through motivation and follow-up.

Outcome Analysis

            The Atlassian Company change resulted in the desired outcomes. The company managed to overhaul its traditional ratings that were done annually based on a metric system. The company was able to adopt and use a monthly performance review, which allowed effective review of employee performance. The initial system of performance was numeric and focused on use of numeric numbers in determining the employee bonus. However, with the successful transformation in its performance criteria, the company adopted the use of monthly scheduled one-on-one reviews. The new model enhanced employee satisfaction and achieved the organization goals of effective performance of employees.

            The successful transformation from the old performance review to the current monthly reviews owes to a number of change initiatives adopted during the change process. First, the company started with the organizational culture. (Lukka & Partanen, 2013) assert that effective communication is essential if change initiative is to attain the intended outcomes. Through the top-down training, Atlassian was able to attain effective communication, which enabled it to attain the intended transformation outcomes.

            In addition, the company was able to attain the intended outcomes through its leverage of technology and employee involvement. The Atlassian change initiatives were spurred by internal observations through employee dissatisfaction in the performance reviews. The fact that the need for change arose from within made it easier for the organization to achieve the intended outcomes. The organizational employees were already dissatisfied with the company reviews that were based on numeric ratings. Perhaps the communication was made easier since there was less need for the organization to communicate the need for change within the organization.

            However, the success in the Atlassian transformation of its performance reviews owes to the employee involvement in change process. According to (De Toni, 2012), most organizational change initiatives fail to achieve the intended outcomes due to ineffective communication and a lack of employee involvement in the change process. Through employee involvement in change initiatives, the employee preferences are incorporated in the change initiatives and this helps in eliminating resistance to change. Most organizations who fail to involve its employees through often face resistance to change that result from fear of the change outcomes and reluctance of the employees to leave their comfort zones. Moreover, the involvement of all stakeholders in the transformation process in Atlassian helped to create synergy and created central focus of achieving the required change outcomes.

Strategy Recommendations

            The modern competitive market and changing market trends makes change an inevitable initiative (Millar, Hind, & Magala, 2012). Some organizational transformation may require organization-wide changes or just a change in small scale that affects specific department or organizational operations. For example, changes in consumer preferences may require a change in company marketing and production units to create competitive products. Regardless of the scale of transformation, change initiatives will succeed if proper planning and implementation is done. The following are recommendations for future small scale and large-scale transformation initiatives for Atlassian Company.

Company develops clear vision statement to guide the change initiatives

There is need for Atlassian Company to develop clear vision statement to guide its change initiatives. According to (Millar, Hind, & Magala, 2012) vision serves to create clarity by defining the position of the company and its intended future position. The change vision serves as a guiding tool for the change process. Most organizational transformations however small they may be, fail to attain the desired outcomes because they lack clear vision statements.

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It is recommended that the company leverage the formal solutions

Most change initiatives face resistance owing to the uncertainty and fear of loss of jobs.  This is especially true when change initiatives affect the employees directly. For example, changes that involve the reorganization may lead to lose of jobs and the affected employees will most likely resist change. Therefore, it is recommended that the organization underscores and communicates effectively the need for such a change. In addition, the company must provide alternative solutions to such employees in order to facilitate the change process. For example, the company may opt to offer jobs in other departments of the organization.

Perform System-wide culture analysis

It is recommended that the future change initiatives involve an organization-wide cultural analysis. According to (Roth, 2011), to achieve successful organizational transformation, there is need to determine the key organizational elements such as culture and shared values. Integrating the culture and organizational values into the transformation will help in meeting the intended outcomes. Most transformation models, such as the McKinsey 7-S and Kotter change initiatives asserts the need for the development of good understanding of the organization culture for effective transformation.

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Conclusion

Organizational change is important as it allows an organization to realign its production and marketing strategies. Transformation increases competition and enhances productivity. However, change must be communicated effectively with the involvement of all organization stakeholders. Many organizational change initiatives, fail to yield the desired outcomes, poor communication, lack of vision statement to guide the change process and lack of involvement of all the stakeholders. Therefore, it is important that an organization involve all employees, provide short-term gains and sustain the change initiatives to avoid announcing change too soon.

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