Are you ready for the change?

Replace the present culture with a new one

"What do you mean? I've always done things this way."

"But it will cause disruption "

"We've only just got time to deal with the issues now "

- and "you want us to change the whole focus of the way in which we do business. It will never work !"

How many times have you heard these frightened statements from employees?

Unfortunately, many employees will react initially with shock and resistance to any change. You have the power to help them through the change if you can recognise the symptoms.

Before announcing any change within an organization you should step back to consider the culture and personalities within that organization. You can then prepare for how they will react and monitor them through the change cycle. I don't intend to dwell on the change cycle in this fact sheet only to say how important it is. Although employees may start it at the same time, everyone will complete this cycle at a different time. Managers need to empathise with the pressures that change places on staff. These pressures are equal to those experienced when getting married, moving house or changing your job. However it is vital for organizations to review their culture regularly if they are to remain competitive.

Peters and Waterman suggest seven formulas for successful cultures based on their research of American companies.

  1. A bias towards action
  2. Close to the customer
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship
  4. Productivity through people
  5. Hands-on, value driven
  6. Stick to the knitting
  7. Simple form, lean staff

Given that there are so many recipes for success is it any wonder that employees take flight in fear of the change?

Managers always create the climate within an organization although very often overlook this fact. They are responsible for the actions that guide employees into fulfilling the organization's aims. In many successful companies corporate leaders act as role models and set the standards to motivate employees, improve performance and make the company special.

Why do people resist change?

Here are some of the reasons:- Fear of the unknown, lack of security. Lack of communication, not knowing the reason for change. Fear of reduction or loss of benefits. They will no longer be needed. They lack the ability to cope with new things.

At best organizational change creates excitement and renewed enthusiasm . At worst it creates distrust, threat, fear and an unhealthy environment where rumour and gossip takes over from clear communication and fact.

Change reactions

People fall into different categories - doubters, preservers, drifters worriers, steppers, leapers and facilitators.

Doubters consciously resist change by asking questions such as: "It didn't work last time so why will it now? Won't it cost too much?" They can always find a good reason for not doing something.

Preservers have a low curiosity and a high need for security. They will say "If it's working, why change it?". They concentrate on past and present and forget the future.

Drifters also have a low curiosity but a low need for security so they will be indifferent to change. They may not be antagonistic, they will not support it either.

Worriers say "It can only get worse." Any change for them is detrimental. Their lack of confidence inspires them to fear the worst even when their fate is not known.

Not everyone is resistant to change and those who don't oppose it usually fall into three categories:- steppers, leapers and facilitators.

Steppers don't mind change as long as the situation has been exhaustively analysed and fully detailed plans prepared for all eventualities. They can however spend too much time thinking and not doing.

Leapers welcome and seek change because they think there is always a better way to do something. They tend to ignore other people's feelings in their efforts to bring their visions to reality.

Facilitators believe in change and also the need to carry people along with them. For them people help to support what they create.

Facilitators are the change agents that all organizations need.

Adoption of any change in culture is a lengthy process and the change cannot be expected overnight. The importance of communication about change should not be underestimated. Two of the main reasons for Culture change failing are

  1. The failure by Management to recognise the needs of employees .
  2. Failure to communicate the changes effectively.

Adoption - Don't throw the baby out with the bath water

Stages that an employer will need to recognise for employees adopting the change. An employee can be turned off at any of these stages, so don't change just for change sake if you don't want disruption.

Adoption Strategy

Awareness: No attempt is made to pressurize or proselize the employee. This is the information giving stage.

Interest: The employee starts to question "What's in it for me ? and What are the sanctions ?".

Mental Trial: This is the stage of non threatening opportunity. The employee has a chance to think things through or try things out.

Real Life Trial: The employee tries things out in real life. If this proves successful it leads to Adoption and finally

Integration: It is up to the Manager to recognise, support, motivate and deliver the Adoption Strategy to achieve successful culture change.

For more information …

DBA has many years' experience of assisting organizations and their managers in implementing change, and training to meet the demands of change. We have worked successfully with organizations to build and present cases for change in a way which will best win the support and commitment of their people. If this is an area of concern for your organization, please get in touch with us to find out how we can help.

DBA 1999