Quality Culture: Changing Hearts, Minds and Attitudes A quality culture is an organizational value system that results in an environment that is conducive to the establishment and continual improvement of quality. It consists of values, traditions, procedures, and expectations that promote quality. Implementing total quality necessitates cultural change in an organization, for the following reasons: Change cannot occur in a hostile environment. Moving to total quality takes time. It can be difficult to overcome the past.
Change cannot occur in a hostile environment The total quality approach to doing business may be radically different than what management and employees are used to. Managers who are used to sitting in their lonely towers at the top of the pecking order and issuing edicts from on high are likely to reject the concept of employee involvement and empowerment. Employees who are used to competing against their own fellow workers for promotion and wage increases may not be open to mutually supportive internal partnerships and teamwork. Situations such as this can create an environment that is hostile toward change, no matter how desirable that change is. Change can be difficult, even when people want to change. It can be impossible in a hostile environment.
Moving to total quality takes time. The nature of total quality is such that the organization may have to go down somewhat before it can turn things around and start to come up. In a conversion to total quality, positive results are rarely achieved in the short run. This characteristic gives non-believers and people who just don't want to change (and such people are often the majority at first) the opportunity to promote the "I told you it wouldn't work" syndrome.
It can be difficult to overcome the past. Employees who have worked in an organization for any period of time have probably seen a variety of management fads come and go. Promoting the latest management gimmick and then letting it die for lack of interest may be part of the existing organizational culture. If this is the case, it will be difficult to overcome the past. The past is not just an important part of an organization's culture; it can be the most difficult part to overcome
Organizational Change The laws of organizational change are as follows: Understand the history behind the current culture. Don’t tamper with systems—improve them. Be prepared to listen and observe. Involve everyone affected by change in making it.
Understand the history behind the current culture. Organizational cultures don't just happen. Somebody wrote the policy that now inhibits competitiveness. Somebody started the tradition that is now such a barrier. Times and circumstances change. Don't be too quick to criticize. Policies, traditions, and other aspects of the existing culture that now seem questionable may have been put in place for good reason in another time and under different circumstances. Learn the history behind the existing culture before trying to change it.
Be prepared to listen and observe. People are the primary inhibitors of change in any organization. Consequently, it is easy to become frustrated and adopt an attitude of "we could get a lot done if it weren't for the people in this organization." It is important to pay attention to both people and systems. Try to hear what is being said and observe what is not being said. Employees who are listened to are more likely to participate in changes than those who are not.
Involve everyone affected by change in making it. The most effective way to ensure that employees will go along with changes is to involve them in planning and implementing the changes. Give them opportunities to express their concerns and rears. Getting problems into the open from the outset will allow them to be dealt with forthrightly and overcome. Showing them aside or ignoring them will guarantee that even little problems become big ones.
Don’t tamper with systems—improve them. Tampering with existing systems is not the same as improving them. Tampering occurs when changes are made without understanding why a given system works the way it does and without fully understanding why a given system works the way it does and without fully understanding what needs to be changed and why. In order to improve something, you must first understand what is wrong with it, why, and how to go about changing it for the better.
Change can be difficult Resisting change is natural human behavior. In any organization there will be advocates of change and resisters. Sometimes advocates focus so intently on the expected benefits of change that they fail to realize how the change will be perceived by potential resisters.
Why is change so difficult for people? Any organization has two separate cultures relating to change: the advocates and the resisters. Advocates focus on the anticipated benefits of the change. Resisters, on the other hand, focus on perceived threats to their status, beliefs, habits, and security. Often, both advocates and resisters are wrong in how they initially approach change. Advocates are often guilty of focusing so intently on benefits that they fail to take into account the perceptions of employees who may feel threatened by the change. Resisters are often guilty of focusing so intently on threats to the status quo that they refuse to acknowledge the benefits. These approaches typically divide an organization into warring camps that waste energy and time instead of focusing resources on the facilitation of change.
People resist change for the following reasons Fear Loss of Control Uncertainty More work
People resist change for the following reasons Fear Change brings with it the unwanted specter of the unknown, and people fear the unknown. Worst-case scenarios are assumed and compounded by rumors. In this way, fear tends to feed on itself, growing with time. Loss of Control People value having a sense of control over their lives. There is security in control. Change can threaten this sense of security and cause people to feel as if they are losing control of their lives1 jobs, areas of responsibility1 and so on. Uncertainty Uncertainty is difficult to deal with. For better or worse, people like to know where they stand. Will I be able to handle this? What will happen to me if I can't? These are the types of questions people have when confronted with change. More Work Change sometimes means more work3 at least at first. This concern includes work in the form of learning. In order to make the change, people may have to learn more information or develop new skills. For an undefined period, they may have to work longer hours. Change brings with it the unwanted specter of the unknown, and people fear the unknown. Worst-case scenarios are assumed and compounded by rumors. In this way, fear tends to feed on itself, growing with time. People value having a sense of control over their lives. There is security in control. Change can threaten this sense of security and cause people to feel as if they are losing control of their lives1 jobs, areas of responsibility1 and so on. Uncertainty is difficult to deal with. For better or worse, people like to know where they stand. Will I be able to handle this? What will happen to me if I can't? These are the types of questions people have when confronted with change. Change sometimes means more work3 at least at first. This concern includes work in the form of learning. In order to make the change, people may have to learn more information or develop new skills. For an undefined period, they may have to work longer hours.
Overcome Resistance to Change To overcome resistance to change, advocates can apply the following strategies: Involve potential resisters. Avoid surprises. Move slowly at first. Start small and be flexible. Create a positive environment. Incorporate the change. Provide a quid pro quo. Respond quickly and positively. Work with established leaders. Treat people with dignity and respect. Be constructive.
Strategies Strategies for establishing a quality culture include the following: Identify the changes needed. Put the planned changes in writing. Develop a plan for making the changes. Understand the emotional transition process. Identify key people and make them advocates. Take a hearts and minds approach. Apply courtship strategies. Support.
SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT This final strategy is critical. It means that the material, moral, and emotional support needed by people undergoing change should be provided. Undergoing change is a lot like walking a tightrope for the first time. It will work out a lot better if you have someone to help you get started, someone waiting at the other end to encourage progress, and a safety net underneath in case you tall. Planning is important. Communication is critical, but support is essential.
At times it might be necessary to change an organization’s leadership team to ensure needed cultural changes. This situation arises when the organization’s senior executives have a great deal invested in the status quo and therefore are staunch defenders of orthodoxy.