How to better manage culture change in the workplace

Nurturing a positive company culture is an invaluable part to building a successful business. Countless times companies have undergone troubling period because a toxic company culture was allowed to fester and spread, but if these are curbed in a timely manner, future problems can be avoided.

However, changing circumstances could mean a significant shift in company culture. This could be a major change in leadership, as a business you may have experienced significant growth, or you may be going through a merger or acquisition. This will have a substantial impact on your employees, potentially prompting some of your best talent to pursue careers elsewhere – this may be the time to review your company culture and provide your employees the needed support to navigate this period of change. Here are factors you should be mindful of:

Employees

Change can be beneficial but initially a hard pill to swallow for most. If there are major changes in a company, these will likely have domino effect in all aspects – including company culture. Hence, you can expect a certain level of uncertainty and stress. In the case of a merger, two potentially different cultures may come into the mix and certain unwanted attitudes could come to the fore. The solution is finding the right culture model that fits your company’s “new look”, additionally you must promptly put your workforce at ease, providing each one with support and empathy they require whilst also motivating them to stay engaged. 

Hiring a transformation director in this period could give HR departments an extra boost. These experienced individuals bring both a fresh outside perspective and expertise not available in-house. Their goal is to determine, communicate and implement strategies to manage change as timely and smoothly as possible, providing businesses with much needed support.

Communication

Employees will be better equipped to deal with any implemented changes if they are aware and understand what to expect. It is vital to be direct and transparent about any potential changes the business, the less ambiguous the communication the less confusing it is likely to cause. 

Furthermore, fight the urge to need to provide information there and then. Change prompts a wave of questions from potentially frustrated employees but avoid providing unnecessary and at times inaccurate information solely to provide an answer. Ensure all information sent out is accurate and it is best to say “there is no new information” rather than tell others of things that “might” happen and cause bigger disruption.

Finally, remember communication is a two-way street – listen to your employees. Send out anonymous surveys, hold one-to-one meetings, create an environment where people will be comfortable voicing their concerns. Seek the opinion of older employees but also invite new employees to offer insight, valuable information and suggestions may come from these discussions that could ensure a smoother culture transition.

If handled efficiently, culture change will bring a wave of positivity and new energy to a company!

Adam Hansen