Q: I am challenged with fostering a change in the culture of a company. Currently it is very political and competitive. Are there any successful tactics or “safe bets” for this effort without having an adverse effect on my career? I understand that a major change like this may be a road to a C-level position, but then again, it can lead to the unemployment line too. Is it worth the risk?
A: In leading change efforts around culture, there are no safe bets. By the nature of fostering change, you will no doubt offend and threaten some people. To attempt to minimize the risk of losing your job, you had best be sure that several senior executives who are actively communicating the change and are true sponsors and champions for this are backing you. Ongoing meetings and perhaps town hall gatherings should be frequent enough to reinforce management’s commitment to this change and the benefits that will be derived from it.
I also suggest getting some organizational psychologists or the equivalent involved who can provide guidance and support while the transformation is under way.
From a behavioural point of view, by being open, direct and sincere, and constantly communicating senior management’s vision, you will begin to convince others of the benefits of change. Winning over some key constituents early on may have a ripple effect, which is what you want. While there is no safe haven and you will be taking a risk, you will learn a lot from this experience. And even if it does not work out as well as you hope, your efforts will add to your career portfolio and will also look good on your r