In today’s change weary environment, the latest top down initiative easily triggers cynicism and fear which inform questions that all come down to this:
What’s the real agenda here?
Where does that lack of trust come from?
A lack of trust impedes change, even if that change is born out of a leader’s best intentions. And the reason is … history.
History. That’s the negative past experiences which have found their way into the collective DNA – while leaders have come and gone.
History. That’s the collective behaviour that through repetition has been automatised over years and years – by now it’s so unconscious and ubiquitous that no insider could see, let alone name it. Like fish who don’t know what water is, the collective is unaware of its thought and behaviour patterns.
It’s bad news for a change leader.
Perhaps you seek to honestly shift the corporate culture towards a more humane way of working together, a culture where people are invited to belong, where they speak up with ideas and suggestions and criticism, where their contributions matter no matter who their immediate boss is, where they can do actually meaningful work. In short, an environment where people feel heard, seen and respected.
Perhaps you seek to change the organisation’s culture so that people at all levels and in all roles take on responsibility, where they take initiative, and show up as leaders.
We need more of this type of organisation.
How to approach change in the face of a lack of trust
But launching big change initiatives or conducting annual employee engagement surveys don’t build trust. And building trust is the first step without which no change initiative can be successful.
We find that approaching change with a learning organisation framework is more promising. It invites others to shape the change they want to see rather than announcing it top down and prescribing how it’s done. People might still ask: “What’s the real agenda here?” But the group of people who can fully answer to it will grow as trust grows at every step of the change journey.
That’s why we support you in change journeys rather than design one big change initiative. That’s why we help you establish a learning culture where change initiatives can spring from anywhere in the organisation.
Working out the new organisation culture, one small step at a time and learning through action and iteration what you as an organisation of leaders can improve.