In any organization, any transitions and changes are met with resistance and difficulties. When changing the culture, with beliefs and values that are deep-rooted in individual workers and in the organization as a while, transitioning to a new culture is always even more difficult. These barriers to change do not always come from the workers or front-line employees themselves, however.
Barrier Number 1:
The most difficult barrier to face is that of people’s mentality. Individuals who are highly skilled in their work are often those who are most resistant and reluctant to change. The reason for this is due to “skill incompetence”, according to psychologists.
People who are skilful and experienced are often good at covering up true problems easily. It is ironic that teaching those who are smartest how they can learn from mistakes and how to improve is usually extremely challenging as these people have often been safeguarded by their own capabilities against failure. This is why, when these people experience a rare failure, they often blame others rather than take responsibility themselves. This is the most important reason why management should lead their organization practically when initiating changes.
Barrier Number 2:
Management can also be a barrier to successfully creating a culture change. If management didn’t support employees, then the change cannot begin. However, management can be enthusiastic and show desire for change. But this is only until they start to see problems. At some point, management might realise that changing is difficult. It often comes with financial costs as well, especially at the outset.
Making changes is complex and transitioning can become static rather than progressive. As a result, the leaders often lose enthusiasm and faith, and taking the others along with them! The change will take a long time and so management needs to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Throughout this period, things such as priorities, positions in the organization and the financial status could change. Therefore, management could easily become distracted once they have achieved some big performance goals and, as a result, reduce their efforts believing that they have been solved.
Barrier Number 3:
One of the most difficult changes is transitioning from a culture that is bureaucratic. A bureaucratic culture usually means that they have a calculative safety culture, and this is a comfortable and powerful state. People believe, therefore, fall into the trap of believing that if they have the right tool in place, any problems will be solved. But, the right tools need the right training and the right application too. It is just not enough that they are there. They won’t be perfect and there are always drawbacks as well as room to improve. There always comes a point in a calculative culture that is difficult to overcome. This is in convincing the management and the workforce that there needs to be more effort if safety is to be achieved.
Barrier Number 4:
On a similar note to the calculative culture, there is the barrier that is the regulators. It is often surprising that regulators form a big shield in a similar way to the calculative culture described above. More compliance and more regulations with checklists don’t equal safety. Complex regulations can stop development. Often, this is the case when you get to the high-end of the culture ladder, for example, moving from a proactive to a generative culture. Here, an organisation might need to reform its safety structure in management and try to escape lengthy procedures that the law requires. Often, a little more time and freedom to develop something by itself is all that an organisation needs. Regulators have started to realise this and are giving organisations some power back, such as through reducing how often audits take place for workplaces that have previously had a positive culture as well as allowing airlines the opportunity to set their own limitation scheme regarding flight times through risk management.