A company is the sum total of its people and its culture. This is why it is impossible to separate the two without affecting both entities. Similarly, it is important to understand that this relationship between people and culture is the main reason why the people so vigorously oppose any changes to the culture.
Changes in organizational culture are inevitable and essential for the continued survival of the company. No organization could continue operating in any industry with outdated notions of corporate culture. Forcing the employees and the stakeholders to confirm to such ideas generally results in an implosion of the company.
On the other hand, introducing any changes to the organizational structure is equally difficult. Management usually gets away with minor inconsequential changes but any effort to modify any mainstays of culture meets with heavy resistance.
Changing the organizational culture is a mighty endeavor that presents a serious challenge to management. Perhaps this is because of the fact that the culture of an organization is actually a representation of the core values, goals, and the aspirations of the people of the organization. This is the main reason why people put up such a strong resistance to any change.
Changes to the organizational culture are misinterpreted as a top to bottom change that affects the entire organization. While there are organizational changes that shake things from top to bottom, they are isolated occurrences. This misconception has become so well entrenched in corporate psychology that people show extreme reactions when they hear the words ‘changes to organizational culture.’
In reality, the best changes to organizational cultures come more as a novelty rather than a catastrophe. In other words, organizational change should be a series of gradual implementations rather than one single sweeping broad stroke.
Gradual changes also have the benefit of hindsight. In many cases, the management implements a complete set of reforms in a single stroke. Once the policy is out, the reactions start to come in and the management has to deal with damage control and soothing ruffled feathers. The situation leaves no room for adjusting the post implementation impact of the change. The result is usually a recall of the policy with business returning to the usual pre change days. This is total loss in terms of corporate expertise and strategic changes to the organization.
The best way of changing the organizational culture is to take it slow and go about it in small increments. After every successful step, the implementation team and the management should sit back and review both the process and its impact. This review must include an analysis of the organizational resistance.
The factor of resistance is important enough to be the focus of any review of organizational change implementation process. By properly gauging the reactions, the implementation team could tweak the next stage of the process to head off resistance. This advantage is the real reason of the opting for a stage-by-stage implementation. The downside is that the implementation plan might go under revision after every implementation stage.
According to many experts, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Management must need to differentiate between the organizational change agenda and the implementation used to accomplish the ends. The agenda is fixed and should not be changed under any circumstances. The implementation plan to achieve the agenda, however, remains fluid. A rigid implementation plan will only result in disaster as the implementation team slogs forward, regardless of the resistance factor. This scenario usually results in a complete failure of the process.
Because of the magnitude of the issue, management will eventually discover that the only way of getting things done is to bring in the full force of the organization behind the project. In many cases, it is wise to start from the top instead of the bottom tugs of the organizational ladder.
Resistance to change diminished considerably when the people see their managers supporting the change. Whether willingly or reluctantly, people start to go with the change and the process goes forward. In many cases, resistance drastically falls as people the top tiers o fetch organization supporting the change.
Bring about organizational change is not an easy task. However, with a stage-by-stage implementation process, the hurdles could be removed and things start to move forward.
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