Making square pegs rounder

by | Oct 1, 2020 | Culture

why culture holds the key to internal mobility

It feels like there are only so many articles you can begin with the phrase “this has been a difficult time for employers”. However, it never stops being true. With the prospect of the furlough scheme coming to an end and organisations facing some significant challenges. This is especially true in the industries hit hardest, tough decisions need to be made.

All employers will look to avoid redundancies wherever possible. Many are establishing ways their people could potentially be moved around within their business and ‘repurposed’. This is especially true in companies in which certain teams or departments are more affected by Covid than others. A friend of mine works for a travel company whose sales team are split by the countries they sell. Some are unable to sell at all in their territories, whilst others are busier than ever. They have therefore been able to move people into this team, train them up with relevant knowledge and avoid making cuts.

Whilst many organisations are making these changes, there are a number of considerations to take into account, in order to make it successful. People won’t just be grateful that they haven’t been ‘binned’, celebrating they still have a job. Also, the success of moving people isn’t dependent on them being given a similar job in a similar field, in a different team. Change from what they have known will be hard and it can be difficult to adjust.

There is a key factor in making this transition as smooth as possible. Something to make the adjustment as painless as possible – your culture. Firstly, culture will dictate how the people around them help them. How they make them feel at welcome in their new team and new role.  However, it goes much deeper than that.

As mentioned above, it isn’t just a case of the individual(s) in question being thankful they haven’t lost their job. Situations like this can be distressing and raise a number of questions: why was it my job at risk? How secure is my new position? How long will I be here before I’m moved on again? Will I go back to the job I was supposed to be doing?

To put these questions to the side requires a certain level of resilience – it asks a lot of the individual. However, with the right culture, there will be other forces that will help them move forward positively. The key one being a sense of shared purpose. The over-arching objectives and goals of the company overriding those of the individual. If that shared purpose is strong enough then the camaraderie amongst your people will see them make sacrifices. They’ll want to help the organisation reach where it’s trying to get to.

Another key factor is communication and a willingness to show vulnerability in these situations. At the base level, effective communication in making people understand why these changes are necessary. Why these decisions were made. But again, going deeper. We’ve spoken a number of times about the power of vulnerability when it comes to leadership. The fact that the most effective and inspiring phrase is “I need your help”.

It will come as no surprise to your people that your organisation is going through a challenging time. They likely assume that’s the case. However, being open and vulnerable about these struggles and asking for help will provide the impetus needed for the people in question to make the necessary sacrifices and make the most of the new opportunity provided to them.

Those that regularly read our content will know that one of our strongest beliefs is that an organisation’s greatest asset is its people. This is never truer than at the most challenging times and a look inside can often lead to the most effective solutions. However, if you are looking to your people to help you then it has to be a two-way street and the best way you can repay the behaviour is doing what you can to shape a culture that works for them. If you do that then, more often than not, the help you need will be right in front of you.  

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