Why the Success of Your Change Project is Linked to Your Company Culture

transformation Jul 08, 2018
Organisational culture can either help or hinder your strategic direction. Here's why.

Do your organisation's actions reflect the values it demands of its people? Have you ever considered how this might impact on your ability to successful bring about change?

When it comes to transformational change, the culture of your organisation is absolutely central to its success. If you are saying one thing but then doing another, it doesn’t matter how much you try to introduce change, your organisation will revert back to what feels comfortable for its culture.

Often an organisation will have values that are chosen by the board. They may or may not bear any relationship to what the culture is on the ground. Unfortunately, great words that convey desired behaviours are not enough. A positive culture is about creating an atmosphere and environment where people are able to deliver what’s needed, in the way you and they want to.

For example, if the culture prioritises loyalty but the senior management team are sacking people and behaving in a way that is disloyal, then this is contradictory to the stated values. Staff will recognise this, and it will impact upon their own attitudes and behaviours.

Conversely, if the company prioritises loyalty and the senior management recognises and rewards this, then this will help confirm positive attitudes and behaviours. For example, leaders who are willing to acknowledge someone has a professional development need and so send them on a course or provide them with a mentor, rather than changing their role or worse, firing them.

What this means is culture cannot be set by the leadership, but that instead it is influenced by their behaviour.

What does this mean for transformational change?

It means that any change projects need to be managed in alignment with the culture. If you want to introduce new systems and processes that are different to the current culture, you need to consider taking some very deliberate and long-term steps to change the culture, either before the change project begins or at the same time.

For instance, you want your business to be more entrepreneurial. However, your current culture is one that is very risk averse. Many layers of sign-off are required before decisions can be made, and staff are encouraged to stick to what they know rather than trying new things. This will hinder your ability to be more entrepreneurial, which by its very nature is more open to (informed) risk-taking, allows more autonomy and is open to trying new ways of working. Therefore, steps need to be taken to adjust the culture of the organisation before you can expect it to deliver on your entrepreneurial goals.

If you are about to begin a transformational change project but are unclear as to how the culture of your organisation will impact on its success, why not get in touch? We can help you understand your culture and make suggestions for how to implement your change project effectively. No pressure, no hard sell, just a friendly chat to identify some potential solutions to your challenge.

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