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Three ways to leverage diversity for your transformation

At Embrace Changes, we combine change management and diversity in several offerings.

You may wonder what the connection is. Let's take a look...

First, what do we mean when we talk about culture change?

Culture change is primarily about changing organizational members' basic assumptions and shared beliefs. When is culture change triggered or needed? There are plenty of examples, including implementing a new (ERP) solution, acquiring a new business, changing direction or strategy, and more recent changes, such as adapting to a new work-and-life balance while working remotely as a team. The list goes on.

When leading the implementation of a new commercial policy and pricing in a very diverse region - the Americas, the level of complexity was enormous. Where to start when implementing a global commercial strategy and policy consisting of a 60+ page framework across 30+ countries?

Consider the intricate web of diversity across these countries - in and across teams, leaders, customers, products, and strategies. And at the heart of it all is Culture, with a capital C.

Just to give an example, in Spanish, the same word can have different meanings in each country, making the task of implementing a unified framework challenging.

Exciting nevertheless; imagine the benefits and increase of efficiency and performance that a unified commercial strategy can bring!

There are different customs, beliefs, and ways of working. Complexity and nuances seem all over the place and may hamper progress during a transformation, as you would expect.

The question then becomes, how can we leverage this diversity and create a smooth journey for everyone involved? The customer is part of the transformation, not just the internal teams.

Spoiler alert - the road can be bumpy. There will be moments of resistance, setback, and simply a feeling of change fatigue, as it's likely, especially nowadays, that multiple change initiatives run in parallel. The heightened uncertainty level in our work and home lives pushed many of us into change exhaustion. Gartner found that employees' ability to cope with change in 2020 was 50% of pre-pandemic levels. It is increasingly difficult to start and implement change and, more important than ever, manage it well. Be clear, consistent, and considerate when taking your employees along.

Diversity of thought helps to accelerate.

Unlike what you might expect, diverse teams can navigate change more smoothly.

Leading effectively takes a different level of thinking and worldview to undo or evolve the policies, practices, and protocols informed by the leaders' philosophy and management approach. According to Forbes, post-pandemic culture change has its challenges. New levels of diversity have evolved.

Look for commonalities instead of focusing on the differences.

Establish a clear purpose based on shared values. In the situation mentioned, we wanted to ensure everyone understood the WHY and how the new strategies fit into the bigger picture and overall company/market strategy. According to Simon Sinek, starting with why creating a purpose helps to inspire. During culture change, we experience that a strong sense of purpose is essential to drive the change both ways, not only top-down but also bottom-up. Employees are more willing to change once they feel part of the journey. For leaders, this means resistance is more straightforward to spot or to capture honest feedback and adjust where needed proactively.

Communicate: address universal needs and uncertainty early on.

People are creatures of certainty and like to minimize change as much as possible. Everyone needs security and to feel seen and heard. Make sure the need for security is addressed early on. One of the questions to be answered is 'what's in it for me'?

Even more so when change initiatives are centered around process efficiency or doing work in less time, and people fear for their positions.

Leaders may feel threatened as they feel their level of control in the new situation may be reduced.

A clear communication plan ensures that messages are adapted to different levels, teams, or cultures. There is no 'one-size-fits-all,' and nuances can make the difference. Leveraging best practices or sharing stories during the change journey makes the change more personal and easier to understand across teams.

These are just a few ways diversity can benefit culture change/transformations. We know the struggle can be real when trying to align teams that are not necessarily connected. People may not feel that the changes impact them, yet they are part of the overall process. And how about your customers? How do you ensure they are part of the change and not (negatively) impacted?

If you want to know more about dealing with changes and diversity in your teams, contact us! We love to get in touch, hear about your experiences, and understand how we can help you.

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