Lehner, Rachelle Diane
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The purpose of this study was to discover differences and similarities in the intent behind the actions of leaders and the perceptions of those actions as perceived by hourly employees. This study focused on differences and similarities in intents and perceptions occurring in the context of organizational change. In particular, this study attempted to surface the mental models held by leaders and hourly employees regarding specific changes that have been made. An interpretive qualitative study was employed utilizing interviews and document analysis to compare intents and perceptions of three key changes. Purposeful sampling was utilized in selecting the organization and the participants. Three groups of employees were interviewed: co-owners, senior leaders, and hourly employees. Analysis of the data revealed three findings: (a) Co-owners, senior leaders, and hourly employees did not identify the same changes as significant; (b)When asked about the three most frequently cited changes (as identified by senior leaders), there was a surprising level of consistency across the three groups; and (c) Even though employees could describe the three changes and the reasons for their implementation, they were not able to explain what they had to do differently in their specific job to contribute to the success of the change. These findings resulted in four conclusions. First, recognizing and addressing employee concerns is a crucial role for change agents. Second, the roles of leadership and management are both necessary and should be fluid in nature. Third, understanding is a developmental process and can be fostered through a multi-tiered communication system. And, fourth, the “what” of change does not equate to the “how” of change. These conclusions lead to implications for both practice and research.