I was recently asked by a reporter about to create positive employee experiences when a company culture changes. Here are my answers to their questions.
In your opinion, why do some employees view a change in company culture as a negative?
Resistance to change is instinctual. It involves unlearning and unlearning in all animals, including humans, follows a very specific pattern and that pattern involves initial resistance to change. The key for leaders is to understand that resistance is not necessarily a reflection on employee desire. Though it can be if the culture is changing for the wrong reasons on in a less ethical direction.
How do you communicate those changes to keep employees on the same page?
It can help involve the employees directly in the planning. If a manager says – we are doing this differently – without input – they risk creating changes that make things worse for employees. When employees are involved in the discussions on WHY changes are being made – they are less likely to resist. It’s the difference between dictating change and co-creating change. If you want to establish new rules for handle interpersonal disagreements for instance, telling people – here is the new complaint process yields very different results from having conversations where individuals agree on a new process together. When people co-create new social rules, they are accountable for the rules they helped co-create and agreed to. If they didn’t agree to the new rules, they aren’t accountable to them – as much as a manager might like them to be.
How do you help employees remain positive as the company culture evolves?
Positive reinforcement and support through the process and regular check ins to make sure the new culture being co-created is still moving in a good direction – so that course corrections can occur quickly and that people are rewarded for pointing out the problems with implementation – will help employees remain positive. It is when people don’t feel like they are being heard – that they get really negative. Culture must be co-created. It cannot be dictated and people who don’t like where the culture is going, have a right to be heard. But the process through which these conversations take place – should be positive which is why appreciative inquiry works so well.
I teach both humanistic management approaches and behavioral science based approaches to change management. https://humanistlearning.com