They say there is nothing permanent except change. We are all bound to change, and companies are no different.
There are many reasons for a culture change, such as:
- A newly appointed leader
- A sudden economic change
- A business expansion
- Poor organizational and/or team performance
- A workforce downgrade, which is what most companies are experiencing today due to the current pandemic
As the environment changes, companies are bound to go through a cultural change as well. It could be a daunting task, but thankfully, there are ways to manage a culture change more easily.
#1: Have a Clear Vision for the Company
Changing a company’s culture requires a huge amount of time and effort to implement. Keep in mind that when you’re putting a corporate culture change into effect, whether big or small, you’re making a major move that will have an impact on the company sooner or later. It involves improving and even reinventing a large amount of the entire company’s behavior and practices.
A culture change may initially sound easy, but it is definitely harder in practice. So before you decide to implement this type of change in the organization, it is very important that you know what your future vision for the company. The future vision will not only determine the direction of the company but also the changes to take place inside the organization.
Asking yourself these questions can help you identify deep-seated problems that need solutions:
- Where do you want the company to be in the next few years?
- What kind of company do you envision?
- What are the core values of your company?
- Does the current corporate culture support the vision of the company?
- Does the internal culture help make the company’s service better?
- Does the corporate culture boost employees’ productivity?
- Will a change in the organization’s culture help the company in general?
- What exactly hinders the organization’s growth?
Once you’ve identified an organization’s challenges, you can then come up with solutions for change. As the leader, you must be committed and strict with yourself towards implementing this vision; practice what you preach.
#2: Make Wise Use of Your Management Team
Now that you have identified the company’s vision, it’s time to put it into action. A company’s culture is something that can be seen and felt within the organization. So, if the current culture has a negative impact on your employees, it will reflect on your company’s image and service.
It’s not enough to simply relate your vision to other managers. In order to implement a culture change, the leader must put his management tools to good use, as Forbes writer Steve Denning suggests in his article about changing the internal culture of World Bank.
Management tools are the company’s key players: the department heads, Human Resources (HR), supervisors, managers and team leaders. When you’re implementing a culture change, it is crucial that you and your management team are all on the same page.
You must communicate with these key players. Discuss with them the benefits of this new provision, and be clear with their respective roles on this implementation of a new corporate culture.
When those leaders understand you, they are like your best friends who will help you put the company’s vision into action. They are the ones who will work closely with other employees to ensure that cultural changes are practiced under their supervision.
Most importantly, recognize your staff for doing a job well done. You may give them a small gift or a card. Another option is to put their names on a bulletin board that everyone can see.
The key is to recognize their effort to implement a culture change. We tend to work better and comply more when our efforts are appreciated, so encourage your staff to be active. It creates a ripple effect throughout the entire company that will encourage everyone to abide by culture changes voluntarily.
Unlike most misconceptions, hiring new employees and replacing the existing staff is not always the best way to implement a culture change. Who knows? You may already have an obliging and willing workforce right at your fingertips, ready to get started. World Bank is one such example, according to Denning.
#3: Be Open to Necessary Changes
Implementing a culture change isn’t an easy task. Sometimes, no matter how perfectly plotted a plan is, there will always be conflicts.
Analyze the problem. Ask for your key players’ opinions regarding the culture change that’s been implemented so far, and be open to any suggestions for improvement.
Do not ignore the red flags that indicate problems; instead, use the red flags as motivation to give you ideas on how to better change the current culture. Be proactive.
Other resources about culture change include:
- How to Successfully Manage Culture Change in the Workplace from the perspective of HR professionals by Darren Perucci
- Seven Strategies for Managing Culture Change by Adrian Furnham
- Cultural Changes That Stick by Jon R. Katzenbach, Ilona Steffen and Caroline Krone, which discusses Aetna’s take on cultural shift
Creating a culture change may take a while to succeed, but with vision, patience, discipline and consistency, anything is possible. It’s not just a sole leader’s responsibility to make it work. It requires the employees and teamwork, too.