Updated: Oct 20
I attended a dinner talk, given by an internal HR Change Manager, that addresses managing change using culture, change theory and other psychology theories to support the development of a change project. I was looking forward to hearing his experiences and how they could provide us with practitioners an insight into change management.
Coming from a financial organisation, the speaker spoke about how he incorporated theories (psychological), and quotes he used to paint or establish a business case to convince the business units of the need to change. He did show a slide with boxes depicting the various stages in the change management process, of which he has progressed to the 2nd stage. (I believe there were 6 or 7 stages) He did share the legislative requirement for the institution to change how they operate as one of the reasons for the change management process. There was a hint that change management would occur even when there might be resistance. This is the organisation’s culture – and if anyone does not comply, they will be deemed unsuitable. On the surface, I get that compliance is necessary to prevent the maverick behaviour of people working in the financial organisation that created the financial crisis that affected all of us. However, I find the approach a bit coercive. Is not change management a process that you bring people around to understand why the change is necessary?
When he touched on culture, there was little mention of what his organisation stands for, but I did catch some phrases he used – everyone’s motivation is the same, the need to speak the same language. Now I infer from all that a very thin line between moral and actual motivation to make changes for the better good. Who am I kidding, this speaker comes from a financial institution more entrenched in the culture of making money. Any changes, within the requirements of legislation, will ultimately be, to change and comply within the legal perimeter and, yes, you guessed it – to make more money.
Although there was a touch on how the organisation looks at diversity and inclusion – increasing 50% of female employees- this is an old tune in a new record. Let’s face it – to date, no organisations have managed to do this because, I suspect, in an industry that is historically male-dominant, such changes are a tall order. Why do organisations still harp on this issue when they know that they only talk but are not doing so? Sadly, the speaker did not elaborate on how and what his organisation intends to achieve that.
It is easy to talk about change, present business cases, use quotes and cite stories to convince the business units. This I believe, will create change in how people work so that they can be efficient in their work, do well and stay away from the regulators. While I do not know whether change practices adopted in this financial institution can be used in other industries, I can only say that any change management program needs to be sustainable, initiated from the top, and based on a good corporate culture. Without a strong culture and identity, any changes will only be just scratching the surface.