Supporting change management through a merger at Karitane
Karitane’s purpose is to ensure every child receives the best start in life. Since its establishment in 1923, this not-for profit organisation has been an unwavering source of parental support, education and advice, guiding families through the critical first 2,000 days of their child's life.
In 2022 Karitane’s commitment and work was recognised by NSW Health with the option to secure a large and beautiful new unit at Campbelltown Hospital. This provided the organisation with the opportunity to bring together two well established and thriving residential units - one in Western Sydney's Carramar and the other in Camden into a new unit in Campbelltown Hospital.
Everyone recognised that the chance to provide more integrated services and increase the volume of services was a significant opportunity with long-term benefits to parents. The challenge and risk was that it required consolidating multiple locations with very real impacts for staff and culture across the business.
Our journey together
As a grantee of Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF), Karitane was offered capacity building support as part of a wider program of investment in organisational capacity by PRF. Karitane was invited to participate in an activity PRF nicknamed ‘speed-dating’ in which grantee partners were invited to meet a series of vetted professional services providers, one of whom was Leadership Space.
After meeting a series of capacity building providers, Karitane nominated Leadership Space to support them in this crucial work. As the CEO, Grainne O’Loughlin commented:
“There was an identified need to support the frontline managers and executive leads to manage a change of this magnitude to ensure we could protect our culture and look after our affected team. We could see that Leadership Space had amazing skills to help us with this.”
– Grainne O’Loughlin, CEO
Leadership Space’s Senior Coach and Facilitator, Barb Barkley stepped in to lead the work. Through the initial diagnostics it was identified and agreed that integrating the two sites would require change management support at two levels. The first was with the Project Team that was leading the integration on the ground. The second was with the Executive Team that was steering the cultural change.
A responsive program was shaped that started with listening exercises, and moved to iterative sessions and workshops that were co-designed with the teams. This allowed the teams to identify and work through the challenges and decisions that were needed as they emerged, engaging the relevant staff, residential units, unions and providers. Leadership Space’s expertise in steering these processes, combined with the ability to establish a high trust environment in which all the participants felt safe to have open and honest conversations with each other under-pinned the success of the program. It created a change management experience that was empowering, insightful and brought everyone on the journey.
A moment of special insight
In the final workshop session, the staff at the two impacted residential sites came together to discuss the site integration through the lens of Karitane’s values and behaviours.
For the staff and leadership at Karitane, the struggle and journey had been particularly focused on how to empower their own teams throughout the change management process. As the team wrestled with this question they became aware of the striking parallel between their clients, the vulnerable parents they work with and their own teams. They saw how they could leverage the skills, mindsets and support that they provide to parents, and bring these experiences to their own teams as they landed in this new space and amidst all the changes the merger was taking.
Just as they empower parents, the Karitane team realised that the more they looked within to the practices that they used to support their social impact, the more they would be acting in line with their values and culture. They had everything they needed and were able to more deeply explore and apply their own strengths.
This last workshop allowed the team to tap into their core culture to steer through the change. It marked the intersection of the organisation's core purpose and the challenges it was facing.
Reflections and Success
Karitane’s experience steering their organisation through highly unsettling change was supported by their willingness to empower their staff, the thoughtful engagement between their leadership and project teams, and their commitment to wrestling with what it would take to live their values through the change.
The success of the transition underscores how Karitane's dedication to families extends to its own team's wellbeing and their commitment to fostering a culture of support, resilience and adaptability.
We are so proud to have supported this fantastic organisation as they strive to fulfill their purpose in ever-better ways.
“Karitane has benefited hugely from your leadership support, guidance and wisdom. We are so deeply appreciative of your guidance.”
– Grainne O’Loughlin, CEO