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5 tips for leading Culture Change

Every time I present on this topic, I am struck by how many people identify with it as a continuing pain point. In fact it inspired me to write my best selling book “How to be a Change Superhero”. Here are a few highlights.

5 tips for leading culture change as a HR Professional

Get your Sponsors to actually sponsor!

An executive sponsor (that isn’t just a figurehead) is crucial for leading culture change. Often senior managers sign off an initiative as a good idea then undermine it with their own behaviour. Stating how much we value our people, then not making time to discuss objectives or hold quality one-to-ones speaks volumes of the wrong message. Conversely, a sponsor who role models quality people and performance management activities and recognises others for doing the same is going to accelerate the Return on Investment (ROI) of your change programme.

Consider the benefits for each level of the business

When communicating change, often the benefits (if communicated) are at one level. This level is possibly one that those affected by the change don’t even care about! For example, a new expenses system may reduce costs but will not achieve buy-in if it requires learning a new system or extra work. However, if staff learn that the implications mean money hitting their bank account in 48 hours, not 28 days, they will be more motivated to engage.

Engage resistors upfront and involve them in the change

It is important to consider the needs of people who may be losing something. Often system changes are led by people who do not truly understand the impact of change on parts of the business. For example, a HR System being rolled out globally may raise complications with different bonus schemes, holiday entitlement or working patterns that are only understood by local HR administrators. Pushing ahead without engaging key specialists or local experts is likely to lead to resistance and problems that could derail your change. Consider who your stakeholders are and involve those who could be resistant to change from the start. If you can get these people on board, they will be 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. Identify key deliverables or goals that mean you can see whether the change has taken place. For example, 80% of people have logged into the new performance appraisal system 3 times or more in June. You can then celebrate individuals or departments who are making a change (and follow up with those that aren’t!).

Keep communicating to reinforce the behaviours until they become a habit

Once the change has started, for example, the first logins to a new appraisal system, don’t assume this will become a habit without building and embedding this change. This may mean layering on additional usage criteria or pulling key reports. It could involve your sponsor again, getting them to recognise publicly those making the change. Ensure regular communication (ideally signed off by the CEO!) demonstrating the continuing sponsorship and success of the change. 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 and is the founder of The HR Uprising. If you are looking for a System that can help drive culture change within your organisation, you can request a demo of Actus Performance Management Software below.

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