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Three hurdles to overcome when trying to change

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Three hurdles to overcome when trying to change

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Social business often represents a significant shift in the cultures and attitudes of an organization.  In many instances, this shift is from an industrial style approach to operation that has existed for some time.  Organizations have developed extensive systems and processes, symbols and stories that support this status quo.

The root of the 8 Step Guide to Building a Social Workplace is to provide some of the cultural levers by which an organization can begin to craft an environment that encourages collaborative rather than competitive behaviours.  I thought it might be useful to highlight some of the challenges you might face in your own organization, even whilst using some of these 8 levers.

Political resistance

Any change project is likely to stir up political factions within an organization, so one that is quite as fundamental as the shift towards a social business often is, is almost certain to.  It would be foolhardy therefore to assume this isn’t going to be a factor for you, or to wish it away.  You will need to manage the political landscape in your organization to ensure that the change happens as smoothly as possible.  This can involve:

  • securing and mobilizing the support of key players
  • reinforcing the message through your behaviour
  • build in as much stability to the change process as possible

Individual resistance

It’s fair to suggest that the status quo can be comforting to many.  Indeed, many will have built their careers within your organization around that status quo.  Change therefore will be an unsettling thought that can fill them with anxiety.  Excessively stressed individuals will at best shut down, or at worst actively resist the change.  Four possible strategies you can use to overcome this individual resistance include:

  1. create a dissatisfaction with the status quo
  2. build in participation
  3. use measurements and rewards to both recognize and promote the right behaviours
  4. provide time and opportunity to disengage from the current norm

Managing the transition itself

When you’re moving from one state to another, that period of transition is often a turbulent one, and it’s at this time that the process is often at highest risk.  When things are uncertain it is very easy (not to mention tempting) to revert to what went before.  At this time, there are a few things you can do to help smooth the progression.

  • provide a clear vision of the future state
  • use all 8 levers to bring about your change
  • have a team oversee the transition
  • set milestones and measure progress

Change is one of those things that few organizations ever do particularly well.  Hopefully awareness of these three core hurdles will help your own attempts be successful.

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