The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Communicating Culture Change: Which side are you on?

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Communicating Culture Change: Which side are you on?

“Only 1 in 3 organizational change efforts succeeds.
Culture change efforts often have even lower odds of success.”
McKinsey survey1

A Korn Ferry study2 revealed that one of the top culture change strategies is “communication of the change initiatives”.  This article explores this proposed strategy through the tale of two organisations:  Company B&U and Company G.

The Bad and Ugly

The Bad and UglyCompany A is expanding its product offering due to changes in customers’ requirements. The CEO is very bottom-line driven and to him, results are all that matter. Consequently, the company culture is very competitive and employee attrition is high. With a new factory expansion project in the works, the HR Director sees this as an opportunity to change the existing culture and brainstormed with the HR team on what values are needed to facilitate this change.

On the new factory opening day, the CEO was requested to unveil the new mission and values in his speech. Emails communication of the new company mission values were subsequently sent to every employee and parts of the factory interior was decorated with these visual changes to remind all employees.

What do you think happened to the culture change efforts? That’s right, nothing about the culture changed.

“Culture change isn’t a one-off event. It requires a long term effort that involves “unfreezing, change, and refreezing”, according to Kurt Lewin a leader in change management and social psychologist.”

The Good

The GoodCompany B have 3 major business units (BU) and the HR Director noticed that recent employee engagement survey showed a growing discontent amongst its workforce. The CEO had also been talking about retaining the company’s competitive edge in the face of stiffer competition.

Unfreeze

  • HR director commissioned an external taskforce (comprising professional facilitators) to uncover the reasons for the discontent. Through the focus groups, the major reasons were distrust and the lack of teamwork between the 3 BUs.
  • HR Director presented these insights to the CEO and the management team. Together they agreed that a shared brand identity of the organisation was needed.

Change

  • With the leadership team onboard, the taskforce suggested to involve the entire organisation in the process of defining what the shared brand identity would be.
  • Through employee focus groups facilitation, the taskforce distilled themes from employee personal stories about what made them proud to work in the company. The themes were subsequently aligned to the business strategy by the leadership team. With this, the company’s mission and values were refreshed.

Refreeze

  • The official launch of the refreshed culture values and mission by the CEO, was followed by facilitating organization-wide training of learning and experiencing the refreshed culture.
  • To support the change efforts, other supporting initiatives such as training the line managers to role model and nurture the refreshed culture, appointing culture ambassadors across the organisation and sharing success stories of employees who were exemplary role models.

What do you think happened to the culture change efforts? That’s right, employees across the different BUs started having a common language and shared a bond over a common identity.

Communicating Culture Change

This was just the beginning of a long culture journey, but it started off on the right footing with facilitating the communication process, a critical component of a successful culture change that determines which side of the ‘1 in 3 chance of success’ the company falls on.

“A professional facilitator is able to help a group of people to work together better, making everyone heard and thereby enhancing engagement”

Two different outcomes of culture changes through communication. Which outcome does your company desires?

If you are just starting to use facilitation as the means to enable culture change, investigate past examples of how facilitation has helped large corporations reap benefits. There are tons of resources available online.

Alternatively, contact Facilitators Network Singapore (FNS) at admin@fns.sg for help. FNS has an impressive track record of successful facilitation conducted for clients and has a team of highly experienced facilitators who can help you.

Reference:

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/richlyons/2017/09/27/three-reasons-why-culture-efforts-fail/#14c703f6e077

2 https://www.kornferry.com/insights/articles/real-world-leadership-part-three-create-an-engaging-culture-for-greater-impact