The word ‘culture’ is colloquially known as a set of beliefs, behaviours and norms that have been passed down for generations. Putting this into the perspective of a professional setting, it can briefly describe the shared beliefs and values that govern the workers of an organization; Essentially being referred as its DNA, the set of shared values contributing to how the organisation’s body runs. Having said that, changing the culture can be difficult in the perspective of both the workers and leaders of an organisation.
In an ever growing competitive and fast-paced world, change is necessary for an organization to improve and/or survive. However, leaders may struggle to motivate and engage their workers in assent to changes because the leaders themselves have to adopt a leadership style to cater to cultural changes. In a worker’s perspective, resisting to change from the uncertainty that may affect them, be it in loss of value, their job, or the fear of them being unable to adapt to these changes is inevitable. Uncertainty has a direct correlation to resistance, and this ultimately leads to insecurity which is an essential factor of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
As mentioned before, leaders have their fair share of difficulties in these changes. The leaders’ actions and behaviours have a direct impact on the culture of an organization and a change within may cause unforeseen discrepancies. When it comes to an organisational setting, leaders are the integral figures in setting the tone for what is acceptable, and this shapes the culture of the company. A related issue would also be because a change of organisational culture would require a large-scale undertaking, and this would require time, effort and change of policies, which may not settle well for employees and these problems may arise in situations such as mergers of companies.
A good example of an organisation that faced difficulties in changing their culture is SMRT. It was reported back in November 2017 by Desmond Quek- president of SMRT stating that the recurring issues boil down to ‘deep-seated cultural issues’ that need time to fix.
Changes may be necessary and inevitable as it can cement an organisation’s growth or survival, but with so many factors to be considered, it shows the difficulties in changing the culture of an organisation.