Changing Organisational Culture - A New Trend?

There have been a number of articles written recently about the need for cultural change – the banking industry, NHS, and Ryanair. 

For the banks it is to avoid a possible repeat of the crisis that happened 5 years ago; the NHS need to address failings in patient care; whilst Ryanair are aiming to reform its “abrupt culture”.

To improve trust, confidence and services provided, companies will need to radically change their existing behaviours, attitudes, values and beliefs – the “social glue” of an organisation. 

Changing a culture that has become embedded over a period of time is no easy feat.  Board Directors and HR are faced with a challenging task; to break down the “norm” and foster new behaviours and attitudes.

Employees assimilate the conduct and attitudes of senior managers (their role models) and for this reason it is imperative that governance and management set the standard and lead by example.

Implementing a cultural change is not a one-off activity - indeed it can be a long and painful process, met with resistance and a wish to stay with the “norm”.

Organisational culture is integral to success and survival.  Only when the required change has been implemented effectively and become embedded will the tangible outcomes become evident: renewed confidence, trust and improved service provision.

There are a number of change models that companies can follow including Beckhard, Thurley, Bandura or perhaps one of the most familiar, Lewin’s ‘Unfreezing’, ‘Changing’ and ‘Refreezing’.

Here are a few of our most valuable tips for implementing organisational change:

  • Communicate – with all levels in the organisation early, positively and regularly.

  • Explain – employees need to know why the change is required, how it will affect them and what the benefits are for them and the organisation.

  • Involve – staff who are involved from the beginning are more likely to accept and commit to the implementation plan, and so minimise resistance.

  • Listen – irrespective of the role/level, people are specialists in their own field and may have good ideas that will facilitate the change.

  • Leadership – change programmes should be led from the top.  Management need to have a clear vision and lead by example and be seen to act decisively.

  • Champions – some people thrive on the challenges and opportunities that change can provide.  These are the people who need to be empowered to positively drive the change forward.

  • Assess – both the driving and restraining forces and review periodically. • Honesty –a trusting relationship is fundamental to generating commitment. High-performing organizations periodically review their culture, in line with their business strategy – they recognise that a strong culture can improve quality, productivity, innovation, marketability and employee engagement.

The Times 100 Business Case study reports how Jaguar Land Rover achieved significant benefits from undertaking a radical culture change.  The prestigious car manufacturer created centres of excellence through an empowered, entrepreneurial and committed workforce, which resulted in continuous performance improvement and a successful production system.

Perhaps it was their ability to adapt their culture that has resulted in Jaguar being named Number 1 Manufacturer in the JD Power / What Car? survey (2013) for the second successive year, with the XF named as the Best Executive Car.

Here at Collingwood we are recognised for our expertise in ensuring candidates are not only of the highest calibre but they are also the best fit for the company’s culture. 

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