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.