Culture Bites - 009 My Manager is Resisting Culture Change

Published on 19 Jun 2018

009 - Manager Resisting Culture Change

When your company is going through a cultural change, but your manager isn’t on-board, what can you do? In this episode we talk about what individuals and organisations can do when managers don’t get on board with change. This episode is hosted by Shaun McCarthyLiana Sangster, and Dominic Gourley.

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Listen in to the podcast episode to get great examples and stories which bring the below key points to life.

Microphone Key Takeaways and Ideas

For Individuals:

Understand What’s Going on for Them
First step is to empathise with your manager. We don’t know what we don’t know - maybe there is something going on for your manager that is pressuring them to behave this way. People don’t just do things without a reason. Keep in mind that there might be a good reason for their behaviour (not that it excuses poor behaviour… but at least we can understand it).

Different People Take Different Time to Change
Some people get on board instantly, others need some time to warm up to it first. Often leaders are under intense scrutiny during change journeys and people expect them to instantly embody the change, but leaders are people too and they need time to change as well.

Assume People Have the Best Intentions
Compassion goes a long way. We describe behaviours as ‘Aggressive/Defensive’ and ‘Passive/Defensive’ – everybody hears ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Passive’ but they often miss the ‘Defensive’ part. They are defending themselves somehow – so let’s assume that their intentions are good but they are going about it in a less than effective way.

Use the Situation for your own Growth and Development
In situations like this, you can learn about yourself and what it is that drives you to feel frustrated. It’s an opportunity to learn what you won’t do when you are the in a similar situation to your manager. In every obstacle lies an opportunity: emotional resilience is helpful in any circumstance – so take the opportunity to learn strategies for building it.

Role Model the Behaviour Yourself
Be an example for your manager and your team. If you can role model it then other people can observe what Constructive behaviour looks like. If you do get an opportunity to talk about it with your manager you can then reference that behaviour to illustrate an example.

For Organisations:

Our research from In Great Company shows that one of the important leadership characteristics in organisations which had managed to change their culture was listening – and specifically listening at the senior level. So there should be opportunities for people to have their concerns heard.

Skip Level Interviews
Skip level interviews are where people get the opportunity to talk to their manager’s manager – i.e. skipping one level. It’s a formalised process – not just a case of the person complaining to the manager. Part of the process is asking how they are finding their manager and it is useful for the higher level manager to get an idea of what is going on and use it to coach their direct report.

Wait it Out
The more an organisation builds a Constructive Culture, non-Constructive managers will find it increasingly uncomfortable to be there. If they aren’t made redundant then they will choose to leave. Because the organisation is beginning to reward constructive behaviours, and it becomes part of the performance management system, then these managers should get feedback through the system that their behaviour is not what it needs to be.

Manage them Out
We should give people time and support to grow and develop, but after trying that and people still aren't getting on-board then the manager might need to be let go. Organisations have to do what's best for the team and for the organisation and that can mean managing people out of the business. Letting people go isn't the 'nice' thing to do but it can be the Constructive thing ('nice' is Passive/Defensive).


Other Resources:

Lion Performance Management System – Former Lion CEO, Rob Murray, talks about the Lion performance management system: results x behaviours at our 2017 conference (rewind to watch the entire presentation).

Sanitarium – The Perfect Storm – CEO, Todd Saunders, talks about committing to change as a leadership team and exiting people from the company if they weren’t prepared to get on board

Changing Culture – What CEOs regret – In this blog, Corrine talks about how CEOs biggest regret is often not getting rid of ‘white ants’ early enough during culture change.


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Previous Episodes:
001: Kick Starting a Passive Team
002: Dealing with Delegation
003: Telling Someone They have a Blind Spot
004: What's Wrong with Being Competitive?
005: I have a Competitive Teammate – Help!
006: What is a Toxic Culture?
007: How Leaders Impact Culture
008: Is Culture / Climate / Engagement the same thing?

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