Here’s a story that will appeal to some of the more cynical among you.
Have you ever been involved in a culture change programme, or sat through an Appreciative Inquiry event, or listened to a consultant go on about stakeholder management and the need to win hearts and minds to bring about organisational change?
Have you ever spent hours word-smithing employee communications to give an upbeat message about the coming changes, while trying to avoid saying anything that might offend anyone?
And I bet, at times, you have found yourself thinking, “Why can’t they just get on with it? Why do we have to tie ourselves in knots to get everyone on board? Why don’t they all stop moaning and just f**king do it?!”
In your weaker moments, you may even have thought, “Sod it! Let’s just sack them all and start again.”
Well that’s exactly what the Museum of London did, as People Management reports:
The Museum of London has “radically improved” its visitor experience after replacing the entire front-of-house workforce, its head of HR told PM. Mark Merka-Richards said a previous attempt to change the visitor service function – from the traditional role of “invigilation and security” to one of “active interaction with customers” – through training had been unsuccessful.
What? You mean there are some things you can’t solve using upbeat positive engagement events?
He said the only solution had been to “start again from scratch” with the team, including management.
The transformation began last year after a redevelopment project forced half of the museum’s galleries to close. Visitor service staff were given the chance to apply for voluntary redundancy and after two phases all 24 signed agreements. At the same time a major recruitment exercise took place, with “fundamentally different job descriptions and person specifications” developed to focus on customer interaction. More than 200 people applied for the 14 new posts. Successful candidates went through a three-week induction and training programme for their new roles as “museum hosts”.
Merka-Richards said timing had been critical to ensure front-of-house operations were maintained, with the old staff leaving on the same day as new employees completed their training. He branded the reform “a total success”, but added: “It was not easy and we faced resistance. But sometimes things have to be broken to be rebuilt.”
I don’t know of many places where the sack-’em-all-and-start-again strategy has been used, at least, not since the days of Bradley Hardacre, but I bet there are still plenty of managers who would just love to give it a try.