I’ve had the privilege of being involved in organizational change management projects across three companies in my career. Does this make me a change management expert? No!
On the contrary the experience has given me the insight to the importance of tackling a company’s entrenched cultural behaviour and habits. Firstly you begin the arduous task of understanding and reflecting on what makes your people tick – in other words carefully chew over what you’re dealing with. Only after you recognise and value where the culture stems from can you begin the long road towards change management.
Organisations undergo change for a variety of reasons. In most cases the need for change is outwardly focussed i.e. competitive pressure, eroding margins, customer decline etc. Very rarely do organisations look inwards. That is looking at behaviours, capabilities, practices, in other words the organisational culture and how it impacts on the performance output of an organisation.
Why is it so critical to evaluate organisational culture?
Organisational culture is an amorphous element. When an organisation begins its journey, founding members create a work culture – processes, individual interaction norms, expected deliverable standards, representation of the organisational image etc. In some cases these practices become the foundation of the organisational culture, to which guidelines are gradually added. Ultimately the ‘foundation culture’ remains the same and is continuously fed through complimentary guidelines. However with such a rigid foundation, the organisation emulates the same behaviour, nurturing the same culture and promoting the same results over and over – a disadvantage in the long-term.
As we move into an era of globalisation with organisations evaluating different management techniques to deliver consistent branding across disciplines; what many change programs don’t account for is the “human resource” factor. The “human resource” is the root cause of behaviour and habits resulting in a company’s work culture. While organisations may have a consistent design identity across the globe and a consistent quality parameter in terms of deliverables, what they can’t control is the ‘representative’ of those two entities in the marketplace.
A particular “way” of doing business or the work flow process is in the end governed by the behaviour and habits of the executives, who sometimes do not differentiate between the personal and the professional. In other words an executive may behave, speak and act in the same manner with friends as he/she does with associates. Hence failing to appreciate that there is a significant difference in the outward projection of the two behaviours – one represents him or herself and the other his/her organisation. The latter is a behaviour inducing a certain image in the mind of business associates.
So the question to answer, when we undertake change management, is:
Can behaviour & habits be modified to bring a change in the work culture?
In short, Yes. But there is a caveat.
Organisational change is a leadership challenge. The leadership in an organisation must be clear in charting the change process. Clarity needs to be created across:
- Business Direction
- Job Roles & Functions (which need to be openly indicated in the organisational structure and linked to performance metrics)
- Transparent work processes
- Articulate priorities and established milestones, both communicated and explained
With a lack of clarity, executives function in isolation, interpreting – as best as they can – the business direction, what they are supposed to do and their attempt to fit into a deliverable culture, which at best delivers mediocre results. The consequence is a troubled culture that results in Organisational Chaos.
Organisational chaos is self-inflicted and undesirable, creating disorder and confusion. It leads to a lack of energy within an organisation and sabotages attempts to provide value to customers and satisfy stakeholders, generating a work culture that breaks employee spirits.
To tackle this chaos, you need recognition, action and resolute leadership.
This is where Benefit Point ends this race and passes on the baton to all would-be leaders. Post us your comments….
- Culture eats strategy – and it will eat your new processes too (flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com)
- Three Steps to a High-Performance Culture – from HBR Blog Network (benefitpoint.wordpress.com)