We’re delighted to host a guest opinion blog from our good partners Egremont Group. In this article Natalie Gordon gives great insight into shifting culture in an organisation, based on her deep experience of making breakthroughs in transformation at many major companies and organisations.
Moving from ‘I know’ to ‘I care’
For a strategy to take hold, your employees have to really understand the consequences of implementing it – or not – and care about their role in bringing it to life. Perhaps you have already run communication events telling people about your new strategy, so that everyone knows what to expect. That is the first step on the three-step engagement curve. If you stop at this point, leaving implementation to a trusted few, you have no effective way of sowing the seeds for full-scale adaptation and change. Your task is to collectively move the organisation from KNOWING what needs to change to UNDERSTANDING what needs to change and why – step two.
To truly understand it, it has to be personal, answering the question, ‘what’s in it for me?’ At this point, your strategy is moving beyond an idealistic intent to something tangible, that can be felt and experienced. Understanding is a step up from knowing, but it still doesn’t mean an individual will change their ways of working. To do that, they need to keep moving to the third and final step of the engagement curve – CARING about the change. When they care, they actively want to make it happen and will proactively look for ways in which they can accelerate the changes required to not only benefit them, but also the whole organisation. It’s at that point that your strategy becomes reality.
Shift your climate to change your culture
The good news is that there are tangible, practical steps you can take to move individuals, teams and the organisation from knowing about your strategy to caring about it and proactively helping to implement it. It starts with understanding and influencing your organisational climate. This in turn drives your organisational culture. It’s worth spending a little time to understand the difference between the two.
CLIMATE is about the mood of the organisation and how that manifests in thinking, decisions, actions, management style and communication. We can influence it in practical ways and measure the impact of our actions. CULTURE is about the deep values and beliefs of an organisation – the more intangible elements of an organisation. It’s the unwritten code of how things happen and it’s hard to change. The climate we create enables the culture to evolve over time.
Diagnosing your organisational climate
To understand how best to land a strategy and implement it, you need to first understand your current climate and which aspects may help or hinder the realisation of your strategy. Key diagnostic tools you will be using at this point include stakeholder mapping, decision making process reviews, role and accountability reviews. The intent is to find out how work gets done, what the appetite for change is, what the barriers and enablers to change are, and which roles will have most impact in supporting the new strategy. The outcome is the story of the problem you have to solve and the opportunities available. This can then be shared to reinforce knowledge and start to build understanding and buy-in for the journey ahead.
Shifting your organisational climate
Armed with this insight into the climate of the organisation and the key challenges and opportunities, you can then focus on what needs to change and how, i.e. identifying how to shift your climate to embrace your strategy. You’ll start with building a strategy map to identify the key outcomes required and the levers which enable them. This will be cascaded down and across the organisation, supported by departmental KPIs and individual performance objectives which all align back up to your strategic intent. The performance measures will likely be more balanced than before, accommodating the 3 Ps of the triple bottom line: people, performance and planet.
With the strategy now clearly broken down into actionable segments and articulated via the strategy map, you will be involving groups and individuals in solution development across the organisation, getting to grips with how things need to change. You might consider training and mobilising a network of change champions to assist with this. You will probably be piloting new ways of working, equipping teams across the organisation with problem solving skills to take ownership and action at a local level. Your objective is to help people understand practically what they can do on a day-to-day basis to contribute to the new sustainability strategy. What is in their power to influence? This is critical to define in order to build the transition from ‘I know’ to ‘I care.’
Turning strategy into reality
It is always easier to engage others in change when they see and feel the need for change themselves and the best way to do this, is to get them involved within a managed and organised framework. If you really believe in your strategy, you need to invest resources in bringing it to life. Don’t let it languish in a board pack. Empower your organisation to care and take action.
Want to find out more?
You can contact us to find out more about our work and Egremont Group’s work in this area