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What is Culture Change Management?

By N. Kalu
Updated May 16, 2024
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Culture change management is a highly structured organizational process that seeks to transform a workplace culture from its current state to a more desired state. It involves encouraging employees to embrace positive changes in the workplace atmosphere. Perhaps the most important step in culture change management is to identify and eliminate barriers to change that may be found in the old workplace.

A toxic workplace is detrimental to the success of a company and its employees. Change management begins when it becomes apparent that the workplace culture must be transformed for the good of the company. In the past, dictating change was simple — managers communicated various new initiatives to employees who obeyed and carried out orders without question. Today, due to the empowerment of modern-day employees, workers are far more likely to question company changes, and to reflect on how those changes affect them personally.

Current practices are a result of a combination of two methods — a mechanical perspective on change, and a human perspective on change. The mechanical perspective zeroes in on quantifiable aspects of a business that can be improved — job functions, specific processes, or the nuts and bolts of a business's strategy. This differs from the human perspective, in that the latter focuses more on the internal psychology of individual employees and encouraging personal change management.

The mechanical perspective also seeks to reform business concerns while the human perspective champions personal change and dissuades employees' resistance to change. Metrics on business performance and growth are the primary ways to measure the success of a more mechanical approach to culture change management. Employee performance indicators such as turnover rate, productivity rate, and qualitative accounts of job satisfaction are chief benchmarks for success in the more human approach.

Blending these two perspectives helps business more adequately prepare for, and carry out, a culture change management strategy. Businesses are set to identify and assess which processes, systems, and company goals must be clarified and improved. At the same time, they are also prepared to coach employees through these changes according to the company values to which the employees have grown accustomed.

In practical terms, successful culture change management includes clear communication on what exactly is being changed and the details of those changes. Communicating the reasons for implementation is critical. Educating and counseling employees on their new roles and goals is paramount. Change managers must also constantly be on the lookout for disaffected employees, listening to their concerns and reassuring them of the benefit of the proposed plans.

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