How to initiate change in corporate culture

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The very nature of business typically calls for change at some time or another. When the need does arise, initiating change in the corporate culture can be a huge undertaking. 
Primarily, the task is a large one because of the need to get the entire organization on board, not an easy thing to do.

Change is often a difficult adjustment for many people. Generally, people tend to navigate towards their own comfort zone and like to work within an atmosphere in which with they are familiar. Policy or organizational change can be hard for those to accept.

Unfortunately, change is often a necessary evil because departments or task processes may need to be restructured, new information systems integrated or legal constraints make the change necessary. Businesses have to remain competitive in order to sustain and this often requires new ways of doing things.

While dealing with individual change is often daunting enough, when trying to convince a large group of people that change is either good or necessary, can pose quite the challenge. Initiating change in the corporate culture takes a combination of skill, careful planning and doing a balancing act. 

Explain why change is necessary

Most companies don't make change for the sake of change, there is usually some underlying reason that has prompted the change. Usually, that underlying cause is due to the fact something isn't working.

The problem could be related to profitability, laws or regulatory changes, or in response to budget cuts which cause a need to strategize and take a new approach or implement new processes.

Whatever the reason for change, it helps to explain to everyone in the organization and provide a basis as to why the change is necessary. Explaining the need for change helps set the conditions to move onto the next phase of actually integrating change because people feel more prepared and there are less surprises along the way.

Integrate change in stages

After the surprise element has been removed, resistance tends to lessen a little. People like being in the know and are usually more open to acceptance.

That being said, fast change usually puts people on an emotional roller coaster. Integrating organizational change in phases (when possible) may make the overall transition an easier adjustment because it tends to soften the blow of difficult change.

Provide open communication

Some businesses decide to exclude employees from knowing about the change until it happens, and usually it is these companies which experience the negative effects of change. Transparency can go a long way.

Allowing a level of open communication which provides everyone in the organization a chance to ask questions, have their fears addressed or just to air their uncertainties. Communicating all details relating to these concerns will help alleviate any adversity to change and help make the transition go smoother.

Additionally, employees will feel more comfortable and accepting of change once they know they have an outlet of communication without feeling forced to accept change, even if change is compulsory. Knowing there are people who can address their questions and concerns creates a team-centric environment which is typically a more welcoming atmosphere to work in and people will tend to be more comfortable.

As a leader, making proactive steps to help staff transition to organizational change goes a long way towards making the change smooth and successful. Eventually everyone will have to accept the change, but less resistance will be met if people feel included and communicated to.

Change is hard on any level, but organizational change does not come without challenge. Making a plan to enact change not only helps employees adapt, but also reduces chaos, which will make management's transition and job easier too.

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