Day of rest: a lesson in cultural change
Growing up, Sundays felt very different from the other days of the week. We weren’t a religious family, but Sundays were traditionally all about family time; if we weren’t travelling up and down the country together for a dancing competition, we’d be having a long-drawn out family roast or a visit to one of our elderly relatives.
Whilst this national show of family loyalty sounds idyllic, as a child I must admit to being a tad bored on some occasions. But Sunday was simply accepted as a day of rest.
Can you imagine the reaction 24 years ago, when Sunday trading laws were introduced allowing shops to open during certain hours? The ‘day of rest’ would never be the same again. There had been 26 previous attempts to relax the laws, so this was a BIG deal. I personally, was delighted, but for many, the idea of going out to the shops on a Sunday – the home day – was genuinely shocking:
“An erosion of family life” …
“Sundays have lost their intended meaning because when God created the world he set aside one day that was different” …
“The country will never ever get back to stability” …
“Mum is working, and dad is down the pub and the other members of the family somewhere else, family life is sliced through” …
“Sunday trading laws will damage the fabric of our society” …
Despite this massive change and all the warnings, the act helped develop a new shopping culture, but for some at a cost:
- The opening of new hours meant thousands of people having to work on a Sunday. For some this was a chance for extra income, for others it meant sacrificing family time.
- It gave more flexibility for working mums who could now food shop on a Sunday rather than trying to fit it in after work or on a busy Saturday.
- The Church of England saw a shift in the first ten years towards worshippers attending services right across the week rather than just the traditional Sunday service. Yet the Catholic church saw a decline in Sunday mass (although there has been ‘no clear link to Sunday trading’).
The lesson here is that however big or small a change in your organisational culture – “the way we do things around here” – you need to realise that your team members will react differently and will need time to adjust, accept and act upon.
8 ways to make the process easier for you:
1). Don’t bother unless you’re serious about it! It takes a lot of time, energy & commitment.
2). Be clear about the change you want to see – how you expect your team to think, act and behave.
3). Lead the change, don’t simply manage it. You must be the role model.
4). Communicate constantly – A poster on the wall isn’t going to cut it. And if you’re bored of talking about, don’t stop!
5). Hold people accountable – if one of your employees isn’t meeting the new standard, describe the gap between the expectation and the observed behaviour.
6). Eliminate activities that deviate from your end goal.
7). Measure what is changing, and how it is changing.
8). Be consistent & patient – it can take up to 2 years for a change initiative to be truly successful.
Yes, Sundays are still a family day for us (as are Fridays and Saturdays!) but I can’t imagine life now without the ability to go into town for a coffee and a meander around the shops. It’s just the way we do things around here!