5 tips for leading Culture Change

I delivered a presentation recently at the HR & Recruitment Software Show on ‘How To Manage The Human Aspects Of Culture Change’ and was blown away by how many people felt this to be a continuing pain point for them and their business. So much so that I think this has to be the topic of my next e-book, but in the meantime I thought a blog would be a helpful starting point.

Get your Sponsors to actually sponsor!

Getting an executive Sponsor onside is crucial, but they must be more than a figurehead. All too often senior managers sign off an initiative and say that it is a good idea then undermine it through their behaviour. Stating how much we value our people, then refusing to make time to set objectives or appraise your own people speaks volumes of the wrong kind of message. Conversely, having a Sponsor who role models quality people and performance management activities and recognises others for doing the same is going to accelerate the ROI of your change programme.

Consider the Vision or WIIFM for each level of the business

When communicating change, all too often the benefits (WIIFM – What’s in it for me) if communicated at all are at one level and possibly a level that those who are affected by the change don’t care about! You may be told that the new expenses system is going to increase company profitability by saving loads of money in administration – but if that means you have to learn a new system or do something you weren’t doing before, it’s not going to motivate anyone. If, however you learn that the implications of the new system will mean that the money hits your bank account in 48 hours rather than 28 days, then you may be more motivated to engage,

Engage resistors upfront and involve them in the change

In the same way that we should consider the benefits for people at different levels in the organisation, we also need to consider the needs of people who may consider they are losing something. Quite often system changes are led by people who do not truly understand the impact of even a relatively simple change to different parts of the business. Let’s think of a HR System being rolled out across the world; many of the processes are simple and transferable but complications might arise with different bonus schemes, holiday entitlement and working patterns that are only understood by the local HR administrators. Pushing ahead and insisting on a change without involving them is going to lead to resistance and problems that could derail your change. Consider who your stakeholders are and consider involving those who may be against the change from the start. If you can get these people on board, they are going to end up being your greatest advocates in the long run.

Set clear success criteria around the change and celebrate wins against these

Change needs to have a beginning, middle and an end, all too often it is communicated and then left to drift which means some people make the change and others don’t. It leaves the door open for people to remain in denial, doing nothing and interestingly this can be mistaken for commitment. Identify key deliverable or goals that mean you can see whether the change has taken place e.g. 80% of people have logged into the new system 3 times or more over the last month. You can then celebrate those individuals or departments who are making the change (and follow up those who aren’t!).

Keep communicating to reinforce the behaviours until they become habit

Once the change has started – so the first logins to a new system for example, don’t assume that this will become habit without building on and embedding this change. This may mean layering on additional usage criteria or pulling key reports. It could mean involving your sponsors again, getting them to recognise those who are making the change publicly. Ensure that regular communication (I recommend you writing it and getting the CEO to sign it!) comes out demonstrating the continuing sponsorship and success of the change until eventually you will find the new system, process or behaviour has become business as usual.

This article was written by Lucinda Carney CPsychol who is available for Organisational Development Consultancy or Training. She runs free O.D. Coaching Sessions once a month on a Friday, to register for one of these sessions just get in touch here.

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