In any major overhaul of an organisation it is essential that the staff team is carried along. The need to include the most important resource that the business possesses – its people – is even more vital when undertaking a change to the organisation’s corporate culture for the very reason that the staff are part and parcel of that culture.
Most employees tend to react to the prospect of change with a degree of trepidation and if the culture change is to be carried through successfully, from a human resource standpoint, there are certain strategies that will be beneficial.
Identify How the Staff Team Perceives the Organisation’s Existing Culture and the Need to Change
In order to carry through a culture change that includes the employees of a business it is important to first identify how the staff team views the existing culture. It might be the case that they are not able to identify any particular existing culture but if they do perceive there to be an established culture – and identify closely with it – the management of any change will need to be handled particularly sensitively. Changing firmly entrenched ideas, practices and opinions normally requires far greater skill than introducing an entirely new culture where there was none in existence previously. It is envisaged that the Human Resource department will play a pivotal role in this process.
Identify the Staff Members who are Most Likely to Influence Others to Accept the Need to Change
It is likely that different members of staff will react differently to the prospect of change. Amongst most workforces there are those who are regarded as being more influential than others. These staff members are likely to be key players when it comes to carrying the entire team along with the culture change and they should be quickly identified, their views regarding the proposed change ascertained and their role in bringing the remaining personnel along with them clarified. It is possible, of course, that certain influential employees are firmly opposed to any change and in those circumstances it may ultimately be necessary to dispense with their services if they are likely to act in a way that will thwart a successful transition to the new corporate culture. Once again, the Human Resource team, with their knowledge of both the individual members of staff and the position that they occupy within the staff social hierarchy will be a key component.
Involve the Staff in the Planning and Transition Process
It is a waste of time and energy to attempt to implement a change to an organisation’s corporate culture without including the staff team from the outset. It is vital to provide a clear explanation for the reason behind the proposed change, how the staff team will be affected by it, what is expected from them in the implementation of the change and, of course, how both the company and they are likely to benefit from the consequent re-organisation. Although there may be some who are unwilling or unable to see the benefits of the proposed change of corporate culture, a team that has been fully involved from the planning phase through to implementation, through effective and sensitive human resource management, is far more likely to opt into that new culture than a team that has had the change imposed on it.
As we have already pointed out, the need to ensure that the staff team embraces a change in an organisation’s corporate culture arises from the simple fact that the employees are part of the established corporate culture and will be an integral part of the changed one. The transition is far more likely to be a successful one if the staff members feel that they have played an integral part in implementing the change rather than perceiving themselves as merely incidental to it, especially if a number of them consider the change to be a negative, rather than a positive one.
Article written by Mark Edwards
Director, Adcurata Limited