Matthew Hudson | December 1, 2008
Whatever you do, do not give in to resistance! Many times companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to change their culture, but they change their plan so many times that by the time they hit the finish line, it has moved two miles away. And suddenly, guess what? You are now ready for another culture change!
When we were helping a conference center put in a service culture, one of the ideas was to change the nametags of everyone to include their nicknames. We briefly mentioned this example in the “Casting” chapter.
In the travel industry, it is very common to place your hometown on the bottom of your nametag or the number of years you have been with the hotel. If you travel at all, you have seen this many times. This company wanted to do something really unique with this idea by adding the employee’s nickname on their nametag.
Two months after the nametags were passed out (in a very nice ceremony, we might add), there were two cast members that became very vocal about the nametags. So management decided to hold a meeting and vote on the nametags.
Before we go any further, some background that you need here is the response from the customer to the new nametags. It was wonderful. When a letter was sent in praising employees, the customer always mentioned them by his or her nickname instead of their real name. One manager told the story of running into someone at a convention and that person was not sure what her real name was, but he sure remembered “Sweet Pea”—her nickname! So the idea was working wonderfully. The problem was that there were a few “vocalizers” who personally did not care for the new nametag.
The vote caused confusion among the employees. It divided them. Obviously, the resistant third voted against them, the supportive third were all for them, but the third on the fence were afraid where to put their support. The result, management changed back to the old nametags. The damage? The people started commenting to us (including one of the customers) how different thing were since they took the new nametags away. The regular customers had noticed a positive difference in the service of the conference center employees since their last visit.
The nametags were a visible sign of the new culture. Everyday, each person was reminded that they were supposed to think and act differently now. Unfortunately, with this reneging of the plan, this company has set its culture change back by six months. “Come on. All this over a nametag?” you say. “I don’t know about that!” Well, it’s true.
tune in next time to see how we analyzed this situation…