Dr Austin Tay



I attended a dinner talk, given by an internal HR Change Manager, addresses managing change using culture, the use of change theory and other psychology theories to support the development of a change project. I was looking forward to hearing his experiences and how that could provide us with practitioners an insight into change management.


Coming from a financial organisation, the speaker spoke about how he incorporated theories (psychological), quotes he used to paint or establish a business case to convince the business units the need to change. He did show a slide with boxes depicting the various stages in the change management process, of which he has progressed to the 2nd stage. (I believe there were 6 or 7 stages) He did share the legislative requirement for the institution to change the way they operate as one of the reasons for the change management process. There was a hint that change management will take place even when there might be resistance. This is the organisation’s culture – and if anyone did not comply then they will be deemed not suitable for the organisation. On the surface, I get it that compliance is necessary to prevent the maverick behaviour of people working in the financial organisation that created the financial crisis that affected all of us, however, I find the approach a bit coercive. Is not change management a process that you bring people around to understand why the change is necessary?


When he touched on culture, there was little mention of what his organisation stands for, but I did catch on some phrases he used – everyone’s motivation is the same, the need to speak the same language. Now I infer from all that a very thin line between moral and actual motivation to make changes for the better good. Who am I kidding, this speaker comes from a financial institution that is more entrenched on the culture of making money, any changes, within the requirements of legislation, will ultimately be, to change and comply within the legal perimeter and yes you guessed it – make more money.


Although there was a touch on how the organisation looks at diversity and inclusion – increasing 50% of women employees, this is an old tune in a new record. Let’s face it – to date, no organisations have managed to do this because I suspect, an industry where is historically male-dominant, such changes is a tall order. Why then do organisations still harp on this issue when they know that they only talk but not actually doing so? Sadly, the speaker did not elaborate on how so and what his organisation is intending to achieve that.


It is easy to talk about change, to present business cases; use quotes and cites stories to convince the business units. This I believe will create change in how people work so that they can be efficient in their work, do well and stay away from the regulators. While I do not know whether change practices adopted in this financial institution can be used in other industries, I can only say that any change management program needs to be sustainable, needs to be initiated from the top and needs to be based on a good corporate culture. Without a strong culture and identity, any changes will only be just scratching the surface.

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