Organizational Culture Shift Success Means You Have to WANT to Change! Jay Fox, CMP, Line of Sight, LLC
All the corporate mandates in the world won’t bring about a successful culture shift if the employees don’t want to change. Even if they must “comply” – what will the impact be and will the proposed change have the desired effect?
Be honest with yourself and think this through…what if – starting April 1st (no, this isn’t an April Fool’s Day prank) the edict came down, that in order to present a “more professional appearance”, all employees, will be required to wear “business dress” attire Monday-Friday. Is it legal? Of course it is! Does it have historical precedence? Absolutely! Would there be an outcry from the employees impacted? I think the “outcry” would “peg-out” the decibel meter!! Would there be resistance? Short of requiring all employees to take a “voluntary” pay cut – I can’t think of any change that would bring about more resistance.
Now if you will – let’s take this cultural shift in another direction. What if a new policy came out that starting April 1st, in order to “change with the times and provide a more comfortable working environment”, all employees were encouraged to wear “social casual” attire (jeans and sneakers) Monday-Friday and that “business dress” would only be required for specifically announced meetings/occasions? How would this be received? Would there be an outcry to continue the current corporate culture? Would there be a significant ground-swell of resistance? I think we all know the answer to these questions.
Which of these two cultural shifts do you think would be easier to successfully implement? (Don’t bother answering, it’s a rhetorical question.)
From this, we can see that changing an organization’s culture is based strongly on how the change is perceived to affect the targeted group (an emotional connection – positively or negatively). Not every cultural shift is going to be easy. This requires managers to really know their people – how emotionally connected are they to the current culture and how ready are they to accept this proposed culture shift? The more radical the cultural shift – the tougher the transition may be. When deciding whether to change or not, one of two states must exist: (1) the proposed desired state is so attractive that people openly embrace it and can’t wait to be a part of this bold new world OR (2) the desired state (proposed change) is not attractive at all and no one wants to march in that direction. In the latter instance, it may be necessary to build a “burning platform”. You must make staying in the current state seem so unattractive that although making the change is undesirable – the alternative (perhaps being laid-off or transferred) is even more undesirable. This drives home the need to truly understand why we are considering this cultural shift (who will be impacted, when will it be implemented, how long could it take to fully accomplish the change, and other variables). Fore warned is fore armed!
The keys to successful change involve thoroughly thinking through the proposed changes, looking closely at the current organizational culture and historical successes in implementing change, knowing what makes your people tick, communicating the change, gathering the target group’s feedback (Voice of the Employee), and responding to any issues that may harbor resistance to the changes. When executing a cultural shift – your goal should be to rise above mere compliance and always shoot for total commitment to change! Understanding your workforce is the first step in implementing a successful culture shift.
If you have any questions about how Line of Sight can help your organization with a shift in culture, please visit our website at www.Line-of-Sight.com, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 410-696-2610.