Embracing Cultural Change within an Organization

Embracing Cultural Change within an OrganizationNo matter what stage of life it is, change can be both exciting and scary. Although, an inevitable part of everyday life, change is often seen as a challenge. Even if humans resist change, it will only be a certain amount of time till they’re swept away by it. We can choose to cooperate and adapt to change by embracing it with a positive attitude and thus, benefit from it.

The same goes with cultural change at the workplace. The first instinctive reaction to any change in today’s organizational set-up is fear. Often it is due to internal limiting thoughts and dialogues that stop leaders from embracing it fully. Leaders today need to empower themselves by looking at changes in the culture of an organization with a positive mindset and see it as an opportunity with great excitement.

Steve Denning, author of The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace, says that cultural change in an organization is one of the most complex leadership challenges.

Why is change regarded as difficult? Here’s why.

Steve Denning in his book penned down that, any organizations cultural DNA is a brilliant amalgamation of interwoven goals, job roles, processes, values, and communication practices, attitudes and beliefs. A cultural change necessitates for a combination of organizational tools for changing mindsets.

Any successful cultural shift in an organization first begins with the right set of leadership tools, which also includes a vision for the future. It also includes coupling the change in the workplace with the right set of management tools such as;

  • Role definitions
  • Measurement and control systems
  • Pure power tools of coercion and retribution as a last resort when everything else fails.

Here is one brilliant example of it:

Trane Inc., an $8 billion subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, sustained a quick cultural change using a fusion of a culture survey and an employee engagement survey. From the results of their assessment, they could determine whether the desired cultural change that they had created included the following three essential elements:

  • Vision: where the company wants to go together
  • Mission: what they want to do together
  • Guiding behavioral principles: how the organization expects all associates to behave

By implementing these changes, Trane grew its yearly operating income by over 20 percent without any new products or services and very limited market growth.

Harvard School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter boiled down six success factors that are important for embracing a positive change. It can be applied for both the leader and the employees.

  • Show Up: For any individual, the key skill is to seize the opportunity when the time comes with excitement and fulfillment.
  • Speak Up: One should never be afraid to speak up or make mistakes. He/She should always be bold to express their ideas to others.
  • Look Up: One should always think of a bigger picture.
  • Team Up: In a team, different people show different ways of addressing problems due to diverse knowledge.
  • Never Give Up: No matter how hard a situation looks, one must never give up.
  • Life Others Up: One should always believe that helping others also helps build a robust relationship.

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