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Culture and business change goes hand in hand

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The culture of an organisation represents the collective behaviour of individuals and is often described as ‘the way we do things around here’. It’s the way people in the organisation behave, think and interact. Also, culture isn’t prescriptive, so when organisations talk of changing it, they are really talking about transforming how they operate and altering the combined ethos of people to some extent.  Many things come into play like objectives, goals, practices, attitudes, traditions and aspirations – all of which must then be seamlessly aligned with the strategic goals of the organisation and vice versa.

In today’s fast paced environment, organisations must continuously evolve to enable the enterprise to respond to the landscape and take advantage of the opportunities it presents to achieve its strategic targets.

Managing change is of course never easy, but a pragmatic approach can deliver success. Here are my top tips:

  • Appoint change champions – Everyone in the organisation has a role to play in driving change, so appoint ‘champions’ of change at every level – from partners and senior management; to mid-level executives and functional heads; secretaries and personal assistants; and individuals. Work with senior management to articulate the strategic objectives of the initiative, define the end state, what it really means for people on a personal level and what part they need to play.
  • Institute common practices – While every change project is distinctive in nature and each impacts staff and the larger organisation differently, there are best practice processes and methodologies available to use as a foundation. Take advantage of such procedures across the key phases of the change programme – right from what the purpose for the change is, what will it tangibly achieve, who will be impacted by the change (and to what degree), what is the action plan to ensure that those impacted by the transformation will be equipped and ready to take on board the new ways of working – through to the measurement and metrics.
  • Create a supportive environment where employees can openly voice their opinions – This will enable open and honest communication, which is fundamental in getting people on board. Securing buy in from your employees requires time investment up front. People must understand why, what, how, when and what the change means to them; alongside their role in the transformation. Know that you might not get everyone on board and that it should by no means stop you. Typically, if the key influencers or a good majority of employees are with you, the rest tend to follow. Keep sight of the larger good of the organisation and what the programme is trying to achieve.
  • Give the ‘emotional’ aspect paramount importance – Supporting the organisation through the emotional journey is vital, and one of the most important considerations. It must underscore your approach. Typically, the emotional journey follows the path:  denial, anger, fear, bargaining, choice and eventually acceptance; but remember the impact of change is personal and it’s messy and everyone views and experiences it differently based on their individual points of reference. Answer their questions: How does it impact me?’ and ‘What’s in it for me?

A quote from change management specialist, Daryl Connor, comes to mind:

“Change doesn’t happen because a Chief Executive or other top management figure says it should; change happens because the majority of people involved, willingly or unwillingly, agree to change their behaviour.”
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