In this month’s issue: Tackling resistance to change and driving cultural change as the basis of a change agile business.
Afiniti is an award-winning business change consultancy that delivers change with a people focus, producing sustainable changes in culture, mind-sets and working practices. For more change management articles and resources, you can follow our company page on LinkedIn.
How can we tackle cultural resistance to change?
Heavily unionised industries especially suffer from this but any industry that has years’ of doing things the same way or has an embedded cultural resistance to change knows the pain it can bring to businesses which must now continually change.
In a climate of continual change, people need to create an agile, change responsive business, to stay ahead of the competition.
Advocates and informal networks – tapping into informal networks is crucial, especially in unionised environments. Advocates might not be the people you expect; they could be the support you need at the local level, often vocal and not always agreeable, if you get them onside they can be powerful allies. Ask their peers, not people in charge who they are, as it might not be obvious!
Read more here about how to find them:
What if these dissenting voices became change advocates? Dissenters can quite easily undermine your programme; they often have a wide reach and are a respected ‘go-to’ person for their peers. So talking to them and paying them particular attention may turn them into powerful advocates.
Find the right change agents – how the change agent actually views change is crucial. You can see in this graphic, what makes a good and bad change agent. Change agents build a change ready organisation because they understand change and approach it in a sustainable way.
Co-Creation – We now work in a world where people are seeking empowerment, collaboration, information and knowledge, autonomy. Your engagement and learning strategy must therefore reflect this need for conversation and working together; the need to be an active part of something.
If you give people the chance to co-create change – from execution, to ideas about how to implement change, right down to the cultural behaviour change that them and others need to make – you will give them the sense of ownership that drives commitment.
You can read more here about how interactive and creative comms can drive such ownership of culture and behaviour.
What’s in it for me – inspire the individual and build confidence and empowerment.
Provide genuine opportunities through the training that ties into the wider culture of continuous improvement. Scenario based, on the job training doesn’t just make learning more personalised and accessible, it makes it relevant and real.
Hearts and minds – If you are leading change, don’t bury your head in the sand! Robust feedback mechanisms keep you in contact with everyone and connected. Think floor walking, focus groups, town halls and workshops. Give people visibility and access those at the top so they can see they have a chance to make an impact and give their views. Regularly ask whether you are in touch with the current feelings of employees, not just union representation. Employees value transparency and honesty, even if it’s not always good news. It pays to have the courage to do this face to face.
A portfolio approach – When the businesses’ portfolio of change becomes bloated, initiatives don’t get finished and a culture of resistance to change builds – people anticipate change not being seen through and infer, rightly, that there’s just too much and that much of it might be pulled or not succeed, so why bother? Change becomes inchoate – destined to remain unfinished and ignored.
In this case the resistance is definitely understandable!
By aligning each programme with broader strategic goals, we create a line of sight between what the change means for the individual and their role and the programme’s part in the business’s success.
A portfolio approach is a ‘top-down’ integrated view of change initiatives, rather than individual programmes working to their own objectives independently in a ‘bottom-up’ manner.
This approach can help you build roadmaps that consider change across the organisation; the scale, pace, impacted groups, and allow for prioritisation of the right programmes.
The Portfolio approach has clear benefits. Through the prioritisation and sequencing of programmes, there is better resource allocation; more strategic management of risk, benefit realisation, investment and organisational impact. It avoids individual initiatives ‘crashing’ into each other and overloading and de-optimising both change and day-to-day operational activity.
If people can see change is well planned and will be executed for the benefit of them and the business, they can get behind it.
Preparing for change. Free online change readiness assessment
Engaging and Communicating with your audience – Communications reference guide
Employee engagement within a project or programme of change is vital in making business change stick. Here are tips on engaging with culture and leadership.
“As long as we hit OUR project’s deliverables it will all work out!” What to do when tunnel vision hits.
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