Changing organizational culture is difficult, to say the least. Whether you are implementing new technology or a new initiative, culture changes are inevitable. Much of it has to do with how hard people want to hold onto the past, and how much support we have from upper management to make the shift.
Introducing culture shifts require a lot of patience and consistency. It is highly dependent on the people in the organization and how well they adapt. It is also dependent on the change being presented and at what levels – organizational or behavioral. Being able to see the progression of an organization from where it was before the shift and where it is now can be fascinating.
For example, performing data analytics is a major initiative that a wide variety of organizations are beginning to implement. For organizations where data collection, analysis and metrics are new, it may be difficult to show and convince people that this is a good thing and how this data provides information on the health of the organization and/or operations. The following are some suggestions on overcoming some of these challenges:
- Get executive sponsorship – it is important that executive and managerial staff believe and understand that the change is needed. Otherwise, it creates unnecessary confusion and tension at all levels in the organization. The first step in making a change is acknowledging the need for it. That is half the battle. Having managerial and executive staff communicate the relevant impact within a department shows that they support it. This is instrumental in making a change initiative successful.
- Communicate long term goals with follow through – As we all know, culture shifts take time. Make sure you are clear and consistent in communication, and you have a long term outlook of where you want the culture shift to lead. Follow through is also something that goes hand in hand with this. If you say you are going to do something, but there is no follow through, people will lose faith and are not going to believe you. This results in staff not taking things seriously which can be detrimental when trying to implement something new.
- Have a plan – Make sure that you have a solid plan in place with major milestones. Advertising this plan on a global scale can increase visibility and importance. Measure and update your progress against the major milestones on the plan so people know you are keeping yourself accountable for the progress. This initiates trust with the implementation.
- Explain why – asking why is very common – why now? Why us? Why in general? Providing these answers can reduce confusion and uncertainty while creating trust among staff. This is especially true if the answers relate to how staff will benefit from the change.
- Create inclusion and ownership – a professor in one of my MBA class once said that inclusion gives someone a positive feeling equivalent to a positive major life event. Exclusion gives the opposite effect. Inclusion can be used at many levels – whether it’s informational or being one of the key players in the shift. Inclusion creates positive vibes through teamwork as well as promoting ownership. If people are included and informed they are more likely to be willing to own a piece of the change.
- Get feedback – after implementing the change, it becomes more important to always have a way to receive continuous feedback and look for opportunities where things could have gone better. Asking for feedback on how the change was implemented sheds light on how to improve in the future.
Purvi Bodawala is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.