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Brief excerpts from chapter 3…
Culture Traps: 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Organizational Change
Designing a change that does not fit your organization’s culture will make it difficult to deliver and sustain benefits as the invisible forces work to undermine ‘the new way.’ So why do we sometimes make this mistake?
1- We are blind to our culture
If you have been at your organization for more than a year, you will have learned to ‘fit right in.’ It is likely that the elements of the culture are so ‘normal’ to you that you don’t even notice them. …
2- We are sold a vision
Often the vision of a change looks so good because it paints a picture of the world without the limitations, realities and problems of today. Of course we want that! …
3- We think it will be different for this change
We may have seen our colleagues sink up to their waists in quicksand, but given the right circumstances we will still give it a go -believing that it will be different for us. Even if we do understand how our culture will potentially lessen our chances of success, the temptation to ignore that information and keep going is overwhelming….
4- We expect projects to make significant changes to the culture
We believe that by implementing a change we can influence the environment -even though that environment has been around longer and is much stronger than your fragile new change….
5- We fail to align all our leaders to the new way
To bring about a change in culture a critical mass of leaders needs to behave in the new way consistently over a period of time. Leaders are notoriously hard to influence. They have come to expect greater levels of autonomy than staff at lower levels. They ‘fit’ with the rules, reinforce them daily, and are often the least aware of them….
6- We try to change the culture and the organization together
We will need support from our managers and they are busy people. If the priorities aren’t clear they are unlikely to support either initiative. When we don’t understand the interdependencies between our culture and the change we can’t make good decisions about our priorities and communicate a clear path for those involved….
7- We assume they’ll do it our way
Perhaps it doesn’t even occur to us that they have a ‘way’ of their own that is different to ours….
8- We misinterpret the signs
We don’t like to think there are any real obstacles in the way of our change so we take a cursory look at the signals coming from our workplace and give them the benefit of the doubt….
9- We adapt the approach but not the change
We tread carefully in the way we engage and involve the people impacted. We are attentive to their needs and customs and build strong commitment as a result. They are with us on the journey but we destroy that trust by implementing a solution which clashes considerably with ‘the way they do things around here,’ with no attempt to make the adjustments necessary….
10- We introduce cultural clashes
A sure-fire way to introduce extra tension into an organizational change is to employ an army of consultants whose culture clashes with what of your organization. Your workforce believe they could have done the job better (rightly or wrongly) and blame you for their disruptive presence….
Which of these traps is holding back your change, and which one, if you fixed it, would bring the greatest benefit?
To find out how to overcome these cultural traps and discover 10 great ideas for getting it right, visit www.koganpage.com to take a look at the new book Managing Organizational Change: A Practical Toolkit for Leaders.