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Online Workshop: Introducing culture change into an organisation


This is the transcript of the TrainingZONE online workshop on the topic of introducing culture change into an organisation held on Tuesday 25 July.

wyn llewellyn Hello! I am hoping to get some chat on Culture Change experiences today. Is anyone else around yet?

Stephanie Phillips Hi Mary. We'll just wait a few minutes to see whether there are any more takers.

mary parker Fine - hello everyone.

Jon Seaton Hello all!

Stephanie Phillips Hi Steve. I guess we can get started now - a few more may turn up along the way! Please could everyone give brief details of their background and their experiences of managing change to date.

Stephanie Phillips Wyn, would you like to start?

wyn llewellyn I'm just wondering how I can pot 17 years into a couple of lines!!

tasos Hello everyone.

mary parker I am an independent HR Consultant with a background in Financial Services, where I have implemented change management projects - mostly relating to people development.

Stephanie Phillips Wyn - go for it!

Jon Seaton I am the editor of HR Zone, but have a background in Training, IT developments and special HR projects. I too have an extensive background in financial services, where legislative changes forced changes in many companies from the mid-1980s onwards.

Steve Breibart Hello everyone - I run a consultancy that focuses on internal communication and culture change, we work primarily in large organisations.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Steve, Jon. Anyone else want to give a brief summary of their backgrounds?

wyn llewellyn OK. The biggest was a Blue Chip $1,000,000,000 business in a BPR project costing $30,000,000 over 3 years where we changed the whole management philosophy using a learning process as a vehicle for change.

tasos I am a HR manager in a pharmaceutical business in Greece.

Jon Seaton What was your initial reaction to that type of project Wyn?

Stephanie Phillips Tasos - welcome, the wonders of technology are working for us today! Your experiences of working in another country besides the UK (and that of others) will be interesting to see!

tasos Hope so.

wyn llewellyn I was asked to take responsibility for the People Change aspects of the project. I was currently managing the T&D function, and found it difficult to comprehend how the change could possibly be delivered.

Miranda Hi, I am a Project Leader in Community & Economic Development based in the north of England. I have no background in finance other than developing a credit union !

Stephanie Phillips Does anyone want to identify the sorts of problems you come up against when trying to implement change? Indeed, what sort of changes have you been aiming for?

wyn llewellyn The biggest problem is CEO's and Directors who believe that change is for others and not themselves and take a long time to learn that if they don't change their own style/behaviour in a visible way, then others will not cooperate.

Steve Breibart As is so often the case it is critical to have senior people on board - sometimes they don't seem willing to accept the consequences of their own initiatives (the board that refuses to work as a team - even though they want everyone else to!).

Miranda Generating an understanding of the need for change even before looking at negotiating agreement on the best way to change is the area I am interested in.

mary parker A major problem can be that only lip service is paid to changes required in behaviours - this can be particularly difficult when an organisation is focusing primarily on the bottom line.

tasos Major problem is peoples resistance to change.

Simon Hall Afternoon everyone.

Jon Seaton The biggest problems that I've experienced have always related to resistance - getting people to understand the reason for a change.

Jon Seaton I guess it maybe comes down to sharing and owning corporate goals, visions.

wyn llewellyn Anyone used the 'Change equation' as a vehicle for getting energy for change?

Stephanie Phillips Given that people are naturally resistant to change, presumably it can be difficult to know where to start! I read recently of an approach using complexity theory, which suggests that you can't actually force change to happen, only help it along!

tasos That's true Stephanie.

Simon Hall What is the 'Change Equation'?

tasos People need and are thirsty to understand what's going on and why have to change.

Steve Breibart Insofar as understanding the reason for a change is concerned, too often people will be allowed to compare the present situation with the proposed one. In reality, standing still is usually not an option and the real comparison to be made is between the consequential situation of doing nothing and the proposed change.

tasos It is necessary to communicate change at all levels.

mary parker Mary - I have used the equation EC=AxBxCZ - is that what you mean Wyn?

wyn llewellyn The change equation states that Change = ( Vision x Dissatisfaction x Clarity of First Steps), and the product of these 3 has to be more powerful than the pain of the change.

Simon Hall we are not familiar with this concept. Can anyone offer a two line explanation?

Stephanie Phillips Both sound a bit mathematical to grasp easily! How do you go about putting facts where the figures are?

mary parker Mary - Anyone interested in finding out more about the equation above can email me - for further info if they wish.

Simon Hall Cheers.

Stephanie Phillips thanks Mary (you can check Mary's e-mail by holding the mouse over her name in the right hand part of the screen).

wyn llewellyn For change to happen, according to the equation, all 3 things need to be in place, Future Vision, Present dissatisfaction and the Know-how of the first steps to make things move toward the Vision. If any of these is absent, then the product =0 and no change will happen.

wyn llewellyn Mary, I think we are talking about the same thing.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks for explaining - quite logical really! Given that there are a few people here with a finance background, and granted that there have been a lot of changes in that industry, does anyone want to describe the particular problems involved?

Jon Seaton The difficulty at grass roots level was that changes were forced by government legislation. The resistance was not to change per se but to "interference" where there had been none before. A bit like the poll tax - the law changed but it wasn't necessarily liked!

mary parker Mergers and acquisitions - hence the blending of two distinct cultures can be a major challenge / cost income ratios are a keen benchmark of success in the Financial Services industry and as a result investment in training and development can be curtailed - these are just 2 examples of challenges facing Financial services there are many more.

Jon Seaton Without going into great detail, competition opened up very quickly, tighter controls were introduced and methods of work had to change unless people were going to end up without a company to work for!

Stephanie Phillips Jon, thanks - there are definitely other industries where changed has been forced upon them by outside forces. It can be argued that maybe they should have seen the need for change coming - maybe some companies do, but put off doing anything about it?

Simon Hall Don't companies always resist/fear change, and isn't government interference simply an easy whinge?

Jon Seaton True to a point Steph! But the timing of change can be a critical factor in business success too. If you change before everyone else you can lose competitive advantage.

Stephanie Phillips Has anyone been in the situation where they can see change needs to take place, but can't convince anyone of the benefits?

jayduffy My 'problem' is that the change to self managed learning is resisted at all levels in my organisation - managers still expect (and get) money thrown at them and others expect to be spoon-fed and stick to traditional methods or nothing. Is there any way of overcoming this except very gradually, by influencing small groups of people at a time?

wyn llewellyn Yes, and the managers and directors understood where they were inefficient and ineffective. But the MD didn't want to spend any money, and the business is now seriously failing and may go into receivership.

Simon Hall How about offering some form of reward? It usually works.

Stephanie Phillips Jay - this is one I've come across - afraid the slowly but surely option is the only one I've used successfully! You have to keep hammering things home!

Stephanie Phillips Simon, would that be financial or otherwise?

mary parker In response to Jay's "problem" , the right behaviours need to be rewarded - what is the organisation doing to support and reward learning?

wyn llewellyn Future employability as a manager will soon be dependent on a demonstrated ability to self-develop I believe.

Simon Hall It could be anything, money, holidays, flexitime, training etc as it will depend on the individual.

wyn llewellyn If you have a competency framework in your organisation, is Self Development one of them, and is it used in selection for jobs and promotion?

Stephanie Phillips All - unfortunately we need to wind this workshop up very soon! In a lot of the Tuesday Workshops, the talk always comes around to needing to change organisational culture before any other initiatives can be put in place. Does anyone have a few quick 'top tips' for working on organisational change? (hopefully Mary and Wyn can supply details of the change equation to those who want it!)

wyn llewellyn Visible support from Top team is vital.

Jon Seaton Frequent and strong communication is also vital.

wyn llewellyn Change needs to be Championed and Facilitated rather than Driven.

jayduffy Thanks for your comments - sorry I had to break off to help someone.

mary parker A strong lead from the top / some quick wins to allow people to see the benefits of change and a well thought out communication strategy.

Stephanie Phillips Those are all great suggestions, thanks all. We must leave it there, unfortunately, so many thanks to all who've come along. If there's sufficient interest we can develop this further in another workshop.

Jon Seaton Bye everyone and thanks!

mary parker Mary - thanks Stephanie and bye!

Stephanie Phillips Bye all.

Simon Hall Thanks everyone!


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