Budgetary pressure is one of the biggest challenges local government has to tackle. Every council has a finite budget and many commitments are reliant on it. These generally include multiple economic, social and environmental issues, in addition to the increased pressures currently brought about by a global pandemic. With councils up and down the country faced with ever-tightening budgets, there is a constant need to review best practice and introduce efficiencies. Although necessary, it is important to remember that for change to be widely adopted, it is not enough just to communicate it to your stakeholders. You need to take them actively with you on the culture shift journey.
People generally don’t like change – or are wary of it – and it can often be vehemently resisted. This is especially true when there is a lack of understanding as to why something new has been changed or introduced. There can also be misunderstandings about the reasons for implementing change, or an incorrect perception of what exactly it will mean to them. By understanding and remembering this, you are better placed to mitigate against any apprehension or resistance.
Leave no one behind in your culture shift
Sometimes having the conversation about introducing new measures, processes or services can be daunting, particularly when you know it is unlikely to be well received. People are much more likely to be willing to consider, understand and ultimately accept and embrace change, if it is communicated properly – and even more importantly, if people’s opinions are sought out and taken into account, before the decision-making is finalised.
Culture shift as part of the solution, not the problem
True consultation with your stakeholders is key. These are often your employees in the frontline, or the service users themselves. As such, they are the ones most likely to be impacted by the change. But they are also the most likely to be able to see where the service isn’t working and have good ideas on how to make tweaks and improvements. Listen to what they have to say, as often the best solutions can be found within these comments.
Do it with them, not to them
There are many ways to actively and effectively consult with your stakeholders. From workshops, surveys, focus groups and forums, there is an endless variety of engagement tools. Identify who the right stakeholders are and engage with them to garner an understanding of their views, thoughts and suggestions. Even when these may seem outlandish or impractical, there might still be a seed of an idea that can be developed into good practice. Taking the time to listen and feedback on their input will enable people to feel like they have been consulted and their views taken on board – even if the final decision follows a different route.
Change is often necessary, not only to improve efficiencies, but also to improve service levels. You should understand what is important to you, your stakeholders and the wider community. You should also share your findings and proposals, and clearly communicate the final way forward. In this way you won’t simply take your stakeholders on the journey with you – and you might discover that the destination is even better than expected.
Contact the C.Co team to find out how we can work with you to achieve true culture shift.