|Transforming an organization from its current state to world class requires changes in structure, systems, culture and behavior at all levels of the organization. But changing an entrenched culture is possibly the toughest task you’ll face as a leader. You’ll need to win the hearts and minds of the people you work with. In this article, we offer a 9-point plan to help you drive the challenge of cultural change.|
Cultural change begins with a clear vision of the future. But that vision can easily be derailed by complacency and a lack of commitment. The following nine pointers will help you drive cultural change successfully on your journey to organizational excellence:
The leaders in your organization need to prioritize cultural change and place customers (and the employees, suppliers, and systems that serve them) front and center.
Next, clearly define the new culture and what it looks like. Include:
- How you’re going to treat customers
- How you’re going to support employees
- How you’re going to treat suppliers
Show the links between the improved performance and the behaviors that lead to them. Culture changes when new ways of operating are seen to succeed.
All leaders should model the values and behavior they expect from employees.
From now on, new employees should be hired for reasons that are consistent with your newly stated values. This is critical to develop a new organizational culture.
New employees need to go through an onboarding process that includes constant communication about the company’s values and culture. Senior management should be involved in these sessions, and can use this opportunity to create excitement and interest in the new organizational culture.
Employees at all levels of the organization need to respond quickly and effectively in an environment characterized by challenging customer demands, technological advancements and globalization. Therefore, empower workers to take charge of their social and technical work environment. Here is where the rubber hits the road, where your culture can be supported or sabotaged.
Document everything that can reasonably be expected to happen to customers or suppliers. Develop these standards as quickly as you can. Every standard needs to include the reason for the standard, so that your employees know when it makes sense to deviate from it to still accomplish the objective.
Ongoing reinforcement is crucial for a successful cultural change. Culture is often deeply ingrained in employees’ beliefs and habits — and this makes it difficult to change behavior in lasting ways. Change the rewards and recognition systems in your organization to reinforce the new culture and its associated behaviors. Show the links between the improved performance and the behaviors that lead to them. Culture changes when new ways of operating are seen to succeed.
A culture is a living thing, powered and kept up to date by the people who are encouraged to be part of it in a meaningful way.
Let your employees know what they need to get done, but not necessarily how they should go about planning their day and performing their duties. If employees are only doing things right because you spelled out every little thing, you haven’t created a culture, and you haven’t created an approach that is sustainable. A culture is a living thing, powered and kept up to date by the people who are encouraged to be part of it in a meaningful way.
A leader’s style has as much as a 70% impact on the climate within the organization. As a result, a leader who encourages and nurtures a coaching culture within the organization will reap the benefits of a skilled, enthusiastic and committed workforce.
Lastly, any cultural change involves changing the mindset of each person in the company. This does not happen overnight. Patience and persistence are necessary to continue along the path for the one to three years it will often take to realize a cultural change in your organization.
This resource has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice. Competitive Capabilities International (CCi) does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this resource or for any decision based on it.