Clients often ask how to successfully manage culture change in their organizations, and my first response is to tell them to move quickly. If you allow the change process to drag on endlessly you’ll only meet more resistance. Culture change in an organization is hard to manage, and it requires clear and frequent communication as well as decisive action to be successful.
Here’s a short list of things to remember:
- Create and communicate a vision for the future that engages everyone in the organization. Promote it, sell it, and make it exciting. Explain the rationale and necessity of the change. Don’t waste time analyzing the present culture and way of doing business – look to the future.
- Question everything. Existing policies and procedures are part of the old culture and may be creating unnecessary obstacles to change. Simplify where possible, using your vision of the future as a guide.
- Shake things up – it’s a new day. Restructure, redefine roles, and realign brand, marketing, processes, and incentives so that they reflect where the organization is headed.
- Insist on involvement. Everyone must be personally accountable for transforming the culture. If you let team members watch from the sidelines, you increase the odds of resistance.
- Break old habits by providing new routines. Assist your teams in transforming the culture by training new skills and behaviors. Redirect training to support the culture change.
Finally, avoid the pain of a thousand small or incremental changes. Go Fast, Leave Skid Marks.
Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.