Change Management – The Top Ten Blockers in Organisations

In order to effectively manage any major change in organisations, it is necessary to understand the culture of the company, and the way that culture may actively resist any changes.

There are ten major cultural components that will affect a company’s
ability to change

1. Rules and Policies

Some of the company’s rules and policies may, for example, tie staff
down to specific jobs at specific times, or mean that specific
functions have to be done on specific times, or tie staff down to
operating only within a narrow band of responsibilities. The way to
foster change here is to eliminate rules and policies that hinder the
change and create new ones that reinforce the desired way of
operating. i.e. develop and document new SOP’s.

2. Goals and Measurement

The stated company goals, and the way those goals are measured, may
mean that the company is focussed only on those goals, to the
hindrance of seeing new opportunities or developing new ways of
measuring company achievements.
To foster change the company should develop goals and measurements
that reinforce the desired changes.

3. Customs and Norms

The customs of the company may get in the way of change. “We do it
this way because we’ve always done it this way” is a standard cry in
many companies. Rigid methods may be hindering change, for example, an
over-emphasis on strict lines of reporting, or slavish reliance on
written reports and minute taking.

To foster change it may be necessary to replace old ways of doing
things that reinforce the old ways with new customs and norms. Eg
replace written reports with face-to-face meetings.

4. Training

Company training plans may only train staff in areas that reinforce
existing company ways of doing things. To foster change it may be that
the company should replace training that reinforces the old way of
doing things with new training and think about developing experiential
training that provides real time, hands on experiences with new
processes and procedures.

5. Ceremonies and Events

Areas like committee meetings, AGMs and staff meetings all have an
effect on company culture, as to any company organised events, whether
it be “team building” exercises, or just regular organised outings.
They all serve to give both staff and people outside the company a
view of “what the company is like”, a corporate image if you like. If
change is required, the company should try to put in place ceremonies
and events that reinforce the new ways, and recognise individual and
team contributions to making the changes work.

6. Management Behaviours

The company management might be tied into behavioural routines linked
with historical ways of working. To foster change a company should
publicly recognise and reward managers who change by linking promotion
and pay to the desired behaviours. ( And the opposite often applies. Companies fostering change often do not promote or pay increases to
managers who do not come on board. )

7. Rewards and Recognition

The current staff assessment schemes in a company may be leading to
rigid hierarchies, or may be fostering one area of competence over
another eg a performance management system that measures only
individual behaviour will undermine any attempts to inculcate a
culture of teamwork. A company determined to foster change should make
rewards specific to the change goals that have been set and ensure
that the performance management system recognises and rewards the
desired ways of operating and does not simply reinforce the old ways.

8. Communications

The company communications strategy, both internal to the company, and
external to clients , media and the public, may be highly resistant to
change, and may again be tied to the companies corporate image. Change
in this area can be expensive, but companies that require to make
changes will have to deliver communications in new ways to show
commitment to change. And when change is being made, it is advisory to
use multiple channels to deliver consistent messages at all stages
during the transition, before, during and after.

9. Physical environment

This is a big area where change is resisted. Staff like their “nest”
areas, and like to feel secure in their workplace. If a company is
determined to make changes, they need to pay particular attention to
this and make sure the physical environment reflects the change in a
way that makes the staff comfortable. If knowledge and information
sharing is the goal, they should get people out of offices and into
open, shared areas. If they want them to talk to their customers, they
should create ‘virtual’ offices so that people are encouraged to work
outside the office with customers.

10. Organizational structure

Rigid hierarchies can work against change, and people at the top of
the tree don’t like having the branches rattled. Many companies in the
modern business world have found this to be a hard area to make
flexible, but if operational change is to happen in a company, there
will, of necessity, need to be organisational change. The way to make
it happen is to make sure that structure reinforces the operational
changes. Combine overlapping divisions; re-organize around customers
as opposed to functions.

In summary, all the above cultural areas have to be taken into account
if change is required in a company, and they all have an effect, in
different ways in different companies, in resisting attempts at such

Make sure you understand them before implementing any big decisions, otherwise you might not be in business long enough to regret it.