Long term change has been successfully brought about. Significant results affecting the whole company have been achieved. Is it time to celebrate victory yet? No, there is still one last stage: anchor the new practices in company culture.
Company culture consists of all the rules and values shared by all members of the organisation. This culture is often implicit rather than explicit, though this does not reduce its potency. It exerts a subconscious influence on employees who are seeking to conform to the practices and customs of the company in order to properly integrate themselves into the organisation. It is self-maintaining and can therefore survive and endure after those responsible for first introducing it, the founders of the company, have left.
The consequence of this is that even the most significant and most satisfying changes are not guaranteed to last so long as company culture itself does not change. By way of comparison, don't we sometimes say "a leopard can't change its spots" with respect to peoples' personal habits? It is the habits current in the organisation itself that now have to be changed, and this is not a task to be taken lightly. The term used to describe the transformation two cultures undergo when they come into permanent contact is acculturation. The two cultures concerned here are the old, existing culture and the one we are trying to introduce.
Something we need to first bear in mind is that it is not possible to simply decree a change in company culture. Company culture is simply too deeply ingrained, too closely associated with current practices and too "obvious", with everyone involved basically perceiving it as self evident. No demonstration, no speech, no rhetoric is powerful enough to shift this collective mass of habits. The first thing to do is get people to adopt new practices that prove successful, then anchor these in the culture. It is for this reason that this is the last stage in bringing about change and not the first.
With the previous seven stages crowned with success, management will now have to be able to convince people to change the culture, partly by showing what results have been achieved thanks to the new practices, and partly by explaining that though the existing culture was fit for purpose in a different context, it is now no longer suitable. By caricaturing the situation in this way, people need to be made to realise that change has already taken place in order for it to become definitive and to bring about a change in mentalities.
Each of the seven previous stages contributes to the process of making company culture evolve forward. This eighth stage involves making this change explicit in order to anchor it definitively in the organisation.
Unfortunately, not everyone will adapt to the new practices. You therefore need to find a way of ensuring that key personnel defend the new culture. You need to mobilise all resources over the long term to achieve this: properly select new recruits, retain and promote the best people, and eventually encourage the departure of those who are opposed to change. You therefore need to formally set out what the new culture is. In particular, it should be defined in terms of targets set at annual appraisals.
The new values to instil should reflect the objective for which you want to encourage collaborative, social practices, i.e. efficiency/effectiveness and collective intelligence. You need to emphasise and highlight relevant and associated values such as cooperation, trust, goodwill, professional development, transparency, etc.
Examples of new practices that correspond to these values are: exchanging suggestions, sharing knowledge , ensuring one's own actions are visible to others, valuing colleagues, providing help to others, etc.
Once the new culture has been introduced, new arrivals will very naturally and instinctively learn to offer suggestions via a suggestion box, share working documents using a collaborative tool and not via email, and make comments in order to share their thoughts with others. As for managers, they will have the task of managing the collaborative communities and work spaces.
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