The Change-Culture Connection – Where to Start?

The study of organizational culture is nothing new, but it is finally getting more consideration in the practice of Change Management—and this raises a lot of questions. What are the connections between culture, business leadership, and transitions? How can this information be used in strategies? What approaches should be applied when culture is x, y, or z? It’s often hard to know where to start to understand a client’s complex culture, so I thought I’d share my favorite change-culture resources.

Top of the list is Sierra-Cedar’s latest HR Systems Survey results. As explained by Stacey Harris, Sierra-Cedar’s Vice President of Research and Analytics, the Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey supports the need to pay attention to culture connections. I encourage you to read the results noted for cultures and pay specific attention to the organizations described as Top Performing, Talent Driven, Data Driven and Socially Responsible. Harris notes, “HR organizations achieve higher levels of HR, Talent, and Business outcomes by embracing their unique cultures.”

The Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey also encourages organizations to consider a “Culture of Continuous Change Management” to positively contribute to business success. As the White Paper research states, “Organizations with a Culture of Continuous Change Management are four-times as likely to be viewed by all levels of management as contributing strategic value, versus organizations that never use Change Management.” It shows proof in the numbers!

Another perspective is a blog on Prosci called Culture and Change Management: The Water We Swim In that references data from Prosci’s 2016 Best Practices in Change Management Report. It calls out six dimensions that have the most impact on Change Management activities: Individualist/Collectivist, Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Assertiveness, Performance Orientation, and Emotional Expressions. The research is intriguing, and the author reminds us that, “Culture is to humans what water is to fish.”

Finally, I highly recommend connecting with the Culture University and tapping into the amazing breadth of culture work generated by Edgar Schein. Schein provides culture fundamentals and culture-related workplace topics. One of these fundamentals highlights the need for results. “If it is successful, and people like it, and it becomes a norm, then you can say it has become a culture change,” says Schein.

An organization’s willingness to accept change will be significantly affected by whether the change is presented in a manner that reflects the organization’s unique culture. An experienced Change Management consultant will help you take your organization’s culture into consideration when preparing for your next successful change initiative.

Sign up to receive this year’s White Paper upon its release on September 12, 2018 at the HR Technology® Conference. Learn more about the Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey on our website.

Gail Sorensen is a Sierra-Cedar Change Management Consultant.

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