Managing Organisational Culture Renewal Programmes: The Role of Human Nature

Managing Organisational Culture Renewal Programmes: The Role of Human Nature

Managers have attempted to radically transform their organisations into “healthier”, more productive and viable corporations but the levels of success have been varied. Are there important factors managers should pay attention to when implementing such programmes?

At THF’s public lecture on 17 November 2016, Dr Phillip Harker, Registered Applied Psychologist at Phil Harker & Associates Pty Ltd shared his unique insights into some important ‘hidden variables’ that play a key role in the likely success or failure of these organisational renewal programmes.
He talked about the importance of seeing things differently (rather than doing things differently) as this leads to a change in understanding that naturally leads to a change in relating to one’s self and one’s world. For leaders of an organisation, their awareness that everyone contributes to the bottom line (including those considered to be the least significant) can be seen in how they behave and treat employees. This is important as leaders set the tone of an organisation.

Dr Harker also spoke about the three broad categories of responses (hot, cold, and luke-warm) and how organisations can encourage their people to move beyond passive compliance to proactive involvement. In such instances, the presence of unhealthy fear prevents learning and encourages a more passive compliance. With the right motive (such as a healthy fear and intrinsic motivation) a wrong behaviour can lead to learning and proactive involvement.

According to Dr Harker one of the most significant – yet often overlooked – sources of fear arousal in organisational life is the unwitting tendency to attribute deliberate intent to employees who make mistakes during the transitional phase in organisational culture renewal programmes. One of the deepest fears that human beings experience, is the fear of culpable blame. In order to avoid this fear, many employees will avoid all risk-taking innovation, the very innovation that is needed for change to occur.

Mistakes are correctable and become valuable opportunities for learning in those organisational environments where managers have come to understanding the nature and role of that key factor – core motive – in human nature that determines how employees will respond from their repertoire of skills to organisational necessities.

After his talk, Dr Harker then addressed the audience’s questions on how organisations can help employees overcome fear, and how they can reconcile fear and behaviour, since behaviour is a function of consequences.
Video excerpts of Dr Harker’s lecture can be viewed here.

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