Overcoming barriers to change
A Corus case study

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Page 4: Overcoming barriers

  'We cannot solve our problems by spending; we cannot solve our problems by cutting back. The only way to meet our challenges is to change how we go about things´ (quote from the Managing Director of CSP UK).

One of the key techniques Corus has used to overcome resistance to change has been to work closely with employees and get them involved as much as possible in the programme. From the start it was important for the company to share with employees what might happen to the business if it did not change.

Getting 'buy-in'

Corus put emphasis on getting everyone to take ownership of the new values by physically signing up to the programme. This helped them 'buy-into' the new ways of working. Workers are now more involved in decision making and their contributions and experience are recognised. Through a range of direct and indirect communications, for example, weekly newsletters and workshops, Corus ensures that all employees understand what behaviours it expects of them.

As part of implementation, Corus needed to highlight how people were behaving (the 'As Is'). It created a programme with 'shock tactics' to show managers and employees the condition of the plant, to identify weaknesses and encourage employees to make changes. For example, 150 senior managers were invited to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This impressive venue raised expectations. However, they were served cold tea and given a presentation on a ripped projector screen.

Changing attitudes

The fact that attendees did not comment on this demonstrated that people did not see they had a 'right to challenge'. It also highlighted that employees had become accustomed to working with limited resources and were willing to accept low standards. This would be an important aspect to work on during the culture change.

Managers were also shown videos of poor working conditions and interviews with local schoolchildren in which they said they would not work at the plant because of their perception of a poor outlook and a poor working environment.

Around 150 workshops were held to spread the messages. Fortnightly newspapers clarified these values and repeated the key messages through articles on various activities, such as employees taking part in the redesigning of a control room to improve layout and safety. Billboards, intranet, video programmes and most of all, direct one-to-one conversations all reinforced the messages.

Focus on improvement

The Journey also raised important questions about how the company managed key issues, such as alcohol or drug misuse. Due to the high standards of safety associated with Corus processes, all working sites are alcohol-free. Understandably, before the change programme, anyone offending in this way was likely to face disciplinary action and this is still the case in most working environments.

The new CSP UK values focus on helping employees who are willing to accept assistance to improve their performance, rather than taking disciplinary action against them for poor behaviour. This approach, with support and guidance from the company and counselling services, has resulted in over 50 employees that previously would have lost their jobs being retained in work.

Corus | Overcoming barriers to change