Changes in the workplace, whether small in scale or monumental, have far-reaching implications on people and profits. They happen so often in our agile business environments that most people fail to consider the impact that these changes cause to the organization’s culture and its employees. The majority of today’s employees have been impacted by workplace changes in the last twelve months, making it critical to focus on ways to productively integrate growth and culture.
According to a 2017 study done by the American Psychological Association, employees reported feeling tremendous stress during organizational changes. In America particularly the impact of changes at work can lead to “chronic stress,” as well as a lack of trust with in their employer. The same study goes on to reveal that employees who go through organizational and cultural changes at work are “more likely to plan to leave the organization within the next year.”
Changing an entire organization’s culture, or working to integrate new values into an already existing culture, isn’t just challenging – it’s one of the most difficult challenges leadership faces. Culture isn’t just a singular or isolated part of a company. It’s a living, breathing organism that has to be nurtured. While it should change, adjustments need to be considered and mindfully implemented for greater success. Too much change, or the wrong kind of change, can disrupt the entire workplace ecosystem with suboptimal results.
Consider the following tips:
- Create a ‘future-story’. People understand stories. And, they enjoy them. Use clear and concise storytelling to build a compelling vision for the future and share it with employees. This story should include items such as role definitions, methods of measurement and control systems.
- Don’t force it – lead it. Leaders at times do not recognize the impact that smart business decisions have on the people side of a business. Intentional leadership and honest communication have a positive and inclusive effect on people and employees are the driving force of any great organization’s culture.
- Identify strategic Change Agents within your present culture. As quickly as possible discover who the individuals are on your team that can help you define and implement cultural shifts. These people should be included in strategy meetings so they have the opportunity to make suggestions and represent the voice of the existing culture. Acknowledging these people will enhance your ability to grow effectively during the changes. Seek out your most talented team members. How can they help you?
- Be transparent and communicate openly. Dodging questions, or asking people to blindly change the way they work, destroys trust. Processes and systems that will encourage transparency and constructive communication should be implemented prior to initiating changes. The most effective type of communication is both horizontal and vertical.
Your organization can grow during cultural changes. You can also make sure this growth occurs without undue stress or damage to the present culture and employees. Remember that when the leadership team communicates a clear vision before implementing changes they are setting the tone for an evolved and healthy culture.
Dorothy Patrick is the founder and CEO of SPARX International™, a firm that drives profits by providing organizations with ideas, products and services that improve culture, communications and employee engagement; specializing in the leadership development and cultural integration for growing companies. Dorothy’s passion to develop successful organizations and teams is reflected in her legacy as a corporate executive with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, UBS Financial and IFCO International.
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