Change Management: A People and Culture-Driven Approach

Change management is an important part of governance.

After a reorganization within his company, a SIG University graduate applies lessons learned in the Certified Supplier Management Professional (CSMP) program to facilitate a people- and culture-driven change management approach to bring his company into regulatory compliance.

The CSMP program exposes students to leading-edge training on contract administration, compliance, risk mitigation, performance, governance operating models, talent management support, transformation and more to help companies put effective governance programs in place.


The Certified Supplier Management Professional (CSMP) program from SIG University discussed the importance of GR&C and provides samples of governance models with roles and authorities, its relationships, and communication structures in relation to the procurement or sourcing strategies of an organization. I was glad to see these topics discussed as it confirmed the need for reorganization within my company, which now has clearly defined roles and responsibilities between governance and third party risk management and the sourcing department. 

Change Management Theories: A Focus on People and Culture

The new governance model implemented considered internal and external factors that affect the overall operations of the organization, most importantly, the people. In order to be successful, we instituted a proactive period of transition using a systematic approach that consisted of a well-defined change plan. Our sourcing department had been resistant to change developed from the previous governance structure, making it challenging to implement new changes. Part of our strategy was to include within our change management plan early involvement of all key players and stakeholders in order to minimize the resistance previously experienced.

Our change team conducted research on several established change management theories to help implement a more robust governance team within the new reorganization. The Elton Mayo change model offered us four stages of change that consist of ideas concerning motivational influences, job satisfaction, resistance to change, group norms, worker participation and effective leadership. Broken into four phases – Knowledge, Attitude, Individual Behavior and Group Behavior – the model is built with a focus on people and culture (Telano, Sara “Change Management: Influencing Other” 48 CONS, RAF Lakenheath, May 2019). This focus prevents organizations from neglecting to pay attention to their most valuable assets, which is their people.

5 Phases of Change Management

Knowing we needed to protect our resources, we then focused on practices used by large companies that have been effective at change management. We discovered that Unilever (Dove, Ben & Jerry’s, Klondike and Lipton brands) has championed changes through a systematic approach. Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman is attributed with saying, “Successful change comes from a real understanding of people, their habits and their motivations.” Paul Polman’s team was focused on their people and how to systematically identify barriers, triggers and motivators to drive new behavior. The Unilever model offers five phases of change. Listed here is how they helped us to implement a new governance model within our company and is based on Sara Telano's research (cited above). 

  • Make It Understood – This ensures people know about the need to change behavior and how it is relevant to them.  This phase was designed to raise awareness and encourage acceptance. Through monthly updates and weekly communications, we raised awareness and drove the importance of why the reorganizational structure and effective governance body was necessary.  Our message focused on regulatory compliance and the need to meet our company’s number one strategic goal: to be a compliant company with all laws and regulations that regulate our business operations.
  • Make It EasyWe needed our partners and team members to be confident and own the changes. We ensured that all stakeholders and key holders were involved and made them part of the teams that were leading the changes. Their early involvement and participation ensured we heard and considered their input. 
  • Make It Desirable – We asked ourselves whether it fit with how they relate to others. This phase focuses on the “self and society” portion. Our team valued the employee’s desire for career growth. We communicated the forecasted changes, new positions and team arrangements months in advance to allow the affected parties to express their interests and increase their individual participation.
  • Make It Rewarding – Ensure people are recognized for doing the job right. This phase focuses on the “proof and the payoff.” For our team, we focused on the efforts or contributions made by employees and placed them in their desired positions as much as possible while ensuring we didn’t leave any gaps open within the new reorganization.
  • Make It a Habit – This focuses on reinforcing and reminding personnel of the upcoming changes or the changes implemented already. Our team ensured that constant communication was being sent out to the affected stakeholders and included our business partners. We reminded them of the new roles and responsibilities as well as the importance to make our company compliant, which reinforces the “why.” 

Our new governance model is currently in its norming stage; however, the culture of our company appears to have accepted and embraced the current and projected changes. The CSMP program offers governance models and its relationships to sourcing and other areas within the acquisition functions, to include change implementation and project management. I have been able to tie many of these functions to my previous role, making it easier to understand change and giving me additional tools to implement in future roles as we go through the next phases of change within our organization.     

The Certified Supplier Management Professional program is a five-week course delivered through SIG University’s unique education platform. Visit our website to learn more about the discipline of governance and enroll for the upcoming semester.

David E. Romo-Garza, Director of Business Risk and Controls

David E. Romo-Garza is a Director of Business Risk and Controls with over 16 years of professional experience in contracting, quality assurance, operations, business controls, and policies and procedures. His experience includes military service with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force Reserves, supporting all branches of the Department of Defense, and the Defense Contract Management Agency. He has worked with operations and maintenance, space systems, weapon systems, research and development, medical services, and with the public financial sector. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Wayland Baptist University, an MBA from Trident University, and a Master of Science in Military Operational Art Science from Air University.