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How to Avoid Culture Change Pitfalls (Plus Tips!)

The culture of your company is arguably the most important aspect of your business. However, when an organization experiences great success, change is almost always inevitable, and the culture is the one thing that can suffer. It’s easy to maintain culture of a small group of people. But what happens when you double, triple, quadruple in size? After rapid growth your day-one employees soon find themselves surrounded by new faces, some of them even placed in executive roles. The influx of new people changes the culture. Every new person comes with a unique background, all while, the company is under more pressure than ever to deliver on loftier goals. 

In any situation, change can either become a positive or a negative thing. For your culture to move in the upwards direction, leaders need to understand how business needs and the human experience of changes can work together for the better. 

3 Pitfalls You Should Avoid 

  1. Failing to use stories 

People relate to real stories. They empathize with the human emotion that’s behind them. If you’re making a decision that will result in change, it’s likely you’ve had many conversations and given it lots of careful consideration. Over time, the change becomes rational to you. But to someone hearing it for the first time, it can feel abrupt. To avoid this pitfall, use stories to help employees connect with the decision for change. 

  1. Leveraging a big event 

Announcing a change for the first time at a company event will most certainly cause employees to roll their eyes, and worse, lead them to expect a series of announcements that will cause more chaos than clarity. Instead, enlist your managers to champion the change alongside with you. Choose moments in smaller settings to involve the manager’s peers and spend time talking about the need for change together. In smaller settings, employees will feel more comfortable bringing up their concerns and you can address them head-on. It’s always better not to assume you know how your employees feel and it’s better to tackle any issues right away. 

  1. Failure to address the informal organization 

Whether you choose to believe it or not, your organization is made up of many informal micro-cultures. This includes networks of employees that doesn’t necessarily play out on a formal organizational chart. Don’t ignore the informal organization. When you begin to introduce change in smaller settings, include those part of these mini-networks. Groups can become influential, and when you get a group involved together it will help with positive momentum and progress.  

Tips for Positive Change 

  • Have strong organizational values. You can always lean on them throughout communicating the decision process for change. 
  • Hire for attitude, not for skillsets. You can always teach skills, but the right attitude will do wonders for your culture. 
  • Give employees a say. The more you grow, the harder it is for employees to have a voice. Make sure you have outlets for them to give a suggestion or opinion.