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Does organizational culture influence your ability to properly integrate changes?

Have you ever paid attention to your organizational culture? To measure its importance in the success of your change initiative? In fact, how do you define organizational culture? There are many definitions and ways to describe an organizational culture. However, on the whole, one could say that culture is the DNA of a company. This DNA includes all the information necessary to grow and operate a business and guides the behaviors of its employees.  Organizational culture can also be defined by the set of standards, values and behavioral rules, often unwritten but shared, that influence employees’ know-how and soft skills. In other words, culture is the way things are done within a company, and is characterized by behaviors underlying any change and expressing over time the prevailing culture of a company.

So what happens when changes are introduced into a company? Depending on the psychological contract an employee has with his company, the existing sense of belonging and the motivation to adopt its business operations, the employee will be confronted to the limits imposed by the current culture. Therefore his level of resistance to change and its adoption will greatly be influenced by the culture.

One of the first steps to consider is to decode the existing culture to determine if it is compatible with the vision of the change initiative(s) you are trying to implement. A strong alignment between corporate culture and vision for a change initiative allows:

  • Speeding change adoption and integration by stakeholders
  • Concentrating efforts in the same direction
  • Developing better solutions to business needs
  • Facilitating the implementation of the initiative
  • Achieving objectives of the initiative and the expected results while respecting timelines and budget

For example, the management of a small company thought it had the right perception of its employees concerning a new orientation it had recently communicated along with desired behaviors to achieve it.  However, using its internal change network, it decided to survey employees to confirm its perception and adjust its change strategy if needed. This step, which seemed useless for some, turned out to be extremely revealing. The company had to take a totally different approach to ensure a stronger change adoption. The results of this exercise helped to better identify employees’ concerns and tailor the adoption and integration activities to swiftly address them.

Therefore, a good understanding of context and culture must remain a constant preoccupation in order to influence and respond efficiently in times of change, and to address the reactions and behaviors of stakeholders on a daily basis.

Cultural alignment must also remain a concern even after the completion of an initiative since cultural changes usually take longer to be integrated than the duration of the initiative.

In conclusion, yes, organizational culture does influence the ability to integrate changes. Think about it!

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