It’s easier to create a culture before the launch of a new organization. But most experts agree that changing a culture that’s already in place can be a lot tougher. The reason? There’s a good chance you’ll run into resistance and at first, it might cost you in time and money. But, if your culture isn’t clearly defined or if it’s sick and it’s in need of help stat, you’re better off to fix it ASAP than to leave it alone where it might kill your organization from the inside out.
Work with what you’ve got
Keep in mind, however, that even if your culture needs a makeover, it doesn’t mean that everything you have built so far has to be destroyed. As Stefanie Bradley, Partner in Charge, People & Change, KPMG Australia states in her video on cultural challenges and change, “there are elements of an organization’s culture that are important to keep,” too.
So, how do you change?
- Set the goal: You can’t get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. So, first you’ve got to figure out what you want your “new” culture to look like. Think about the categories of culture and what suits your organization best based on what product or service you’re offering, how big your organization is, what matters to you the most and how you want your organization to be seen by its clients and customers.
- Learn about your current culture: Take the time to speak with employees and managers. Ask questions about how things are done, what is expected and what is communicated and how. Soon you’ll see a common pattern of behavior and that will help to name your current culture.
- Make sure your new culture works with your business goals by reading our blog called, “How to Align Your Culture with Business Goals” (link to the blog above, once it’s posted online)
- Embed the new culture: Once you decide on a culture that’s aligned with your business goals, communicate your new culture and brand to everyone in your organization in many different ways on a regular basis. Also, lead by example. People in senior positions need to walk the talk. Don’t just share slogans or posters. Live it! Show everyone exactly how they’re expected to embed the new culture in their current work activities.
- Reward and acknowledge: Call out great performance and people who are driving the new culture and doing their best to apply it.
- Find new matches: Make sure that during the interview process, potential new employees are told about the culture and that they are chosen for their ability to fit into the new culture.
- Measure your results: Conduct employee engagement surveys, check employee referral rates, voluntary turnover rates, and employee ratings and reviews.
- Look at other results too: Ask yourself if an employee would think of your organization as the best place to work. Is the organization doing its best? Are employees supporting each other and working together well? Are employees happy to do all that they can to help colleagues, clients and/or customers?
Don’t give up
As noted in Steve Denning’s article on Forbes.com called, How Do You Change An Organizational Culture? “Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges.” But sometimes it has to be done.
Just because an organization exists, that doesn’t mean that it’s reached its highest heights. Some organizations are barely breathing. But, if managers see the signs and take action, exciting changes can happen in the lifespan of an organization. As Chris White who leads the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations states in his video called, 3 Ways to create a work culture that brings out the best in employees, “Walkouts happen pretty much every day in workplaces. They just don’t happen with our feet. They’re check-outs. They’re invisible walkouts that happen with our hearts, with our hands and with our voices and let’s be honest, pretty much all of us have check out in our careers at some point, haven’t we?” With time, effort and commitment organizations can be brought back to life, get back into the game and achieve incredible results.