Shape your company’s decision style—and behaviors|
By Marcia W. Blenko, Paul Rogers and Patrick Litre
The way people in a company behave when making decisions is a key ingredient of the organization’s culture. And, as we’ve discussed in this series, that can profoundly affect performance.
But sometimes companies must change their approach to making and executing decisions.
Mergers, shifting competitive landscapes, the adoption of a new strategy or the arrival of new leaders—any of these can trigger a necessary change. When Merck KGaA acquired US biotech equipment supplier Millipore last year, executives faced a potential culture clash. The German healthcare company was careful and methodical about decisions; Millipore more entrepreneurial.
Whatever the reason for a change, people find it hard to learn a new decision style. As you know if you have been reading this series, our research favors a participative style. But employees accustomed to, say, a more directive style can be genuinely confused and even paralyzed by a more participative approach.
Leaders of an organization that aspires to change its style can take four critical steps:
- Explain the rationale for the change.
- Determine the biggest gaps between today’s behaviors and those required in the future.
- Identify how behaviors need to change.
- Embed new behaviors through role modeling, reinforcement, communication and feedback.
The key to getting people past their discomfort to actual behavior change is persistence: a behavioral change initiative will fail if it is no longer a priority six months later. Long-term commitment will reap long-term rewards. Merck and Millipore, for example, concluded a remarkably successful merger on time and on budget.
A major change in your company’s organizational life can also be a success if you create a path to better decisions and better performance.
To learn more, download the PDF.
Read past issues of Decision Insights: