Change, Conflict and Culture

by Stephanie Goetz | Jul 15, 2022


We have many institutions either going through or coming out of a large amount of change. It seems like there’s always some new guidance, product, or environmental change we find ourselves up against… especially these days. Change is scary, uncomfortable, and comes with a fair amount of conflict. Here are five ways to build some good change management skills into your culture.


  1. Assume Good Intentions- Typically amidst change things get a bit messy, misunderstandings, miscommunications, and conflicts arise more often or are more severe than normal. I had a friend from college tell me once that if there are no conflicts in a relationship, something isn’t right. She was a psychology major, so I’m betting there’s some truth in that. One thing that can be lost in all the chaos and confusion is that we are all on the same team and everyone involved has the best of intentions…whether it’s evident or not. These things can be solved much quicker and with the least amount of frustration by assuming that the person on the other side of the conflict also has the best intentions in mind; maybe they are just operating off a separate set of facts, perspectives, or experience. Approaching the situation with a curious mindset and asking questions can go a long way to bringing the situation to resolution as quickly as possible.

  2. Practice Constructive Conflict- This means that the best idea wins, not the one with the biggest title or most political connections. Conflict should be acceptable and regarded as common in the workplace, it is actually a good thing! It means communication is clear, issues are resolved quickly and everyone moves in the best direction for the institution.

Most often, conflict arises from miscommunication or incorrect assumptions. That can be solved with a little courage in a simple conversation! However, the biggest mistake I see is while conversations are had, they are had with everyone OTHER than the people in conflict. That doesn’t solve anything and just makes a mountain out of a molehill and meanwhile precious time, energy, and resources are used in drama to support people’s egos rather than achieving goals.

  1. Hold Everyone Accountable- This means everyone has to be driving in the same direction, or there are consequences. Consequences can be a conversation, a call, performance review notes, or whatever is appropriate to disincentivize the behavior. To be efficient and effective in achieving our goals, accountability should move in both directions in the organizational chart. No room for saying one thing and doing something else. Actions speak louder than words, especially when it is someone in a leadership position. The team will tend to follow and emulate the actions of leadership.

We are all human and have times we are not at our best. This could be a bad day, family problems, physical illness, or just a tough season in life. That is OK and a prime opportunity for your team to support you with help and encouragement. This doesn’t mean we just ignore that someone is not putting in 100%, rather discuss the issue and plan for help or ways to still meet the goals.

  1. Focus on Incremental Change- Don’t try to eat the elephant in a single bite. The most successful large changes are done one step at a time. Sometimes institutions try to do it all at once and not only does this increase the likelihood of missing things, but it also overwhelms and burns out people and that is counterproductive.

  2. Celebrate Success, Even the Small Ones- A little recognition, like a ‘pat on the back’, nice note, or even a kind word goes a long way. It’s motivating to feel appreciated and acknowledged, especially when it’s spontaneous and not forced in a program or procedure. Take a step back and realize how blessed you are to have a great team working alongside you, then let them know!

If you need help building a security culture that’s ready for change, reach out to us at:


Additional Resources:

5 Reasons Information Security is a Team Sport 

Culture Counts 

What Does it Mean to Be a Good Partner? 

Culture of Security: Critical Conversations 


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