A Condensed Guide to Changing Company Culture

Posted by April

Oct 15, 2013 11:26:00 AM

Changing a company’s culture can be a daunting task. No matter how you look at it, it’s going to be a long, difficult process. No CEO woke up one morning and said “the company’s culture will be different by COB today.”

Although that would be nice, it’s not that simple. Changing your company culture takes time and effort from many people in an organization. These adjustments require determination among its leaders and communication within the entire company.

So how do we get things moving in the right direction?

First, devise a plan that clearly lays out the goals of the culture change (Forbes). This is very important for the changes to be successful. It’s not enough to keep talking about it and not acting on it. It’s like losing weight. A lot of people say that they want to lose weight and get fit, but if that person doesn't start eating better and exercising, they won’t see any results. If a CEO keeps talking about the culture changes they want to see without a plan to get there, then that transformation will never happen either.

Just like with weight loss, set a clearly defined goal, whether it is to lose 10 pounds or to run a marathon, set a goal and put a plan in motion.

It will be easier to accomplish changes if a plan is clearly outlined.

After you have a detailed plan, you will probably want to get others passionate about the change (Wall Street Journal). Having the extra enthusiasm from other employees will fuel the motivation of others to see the benefits of the change. If employees can’t see the value of the change, it will make it that much more difficult to start the process. Make sure you are showing them the importance of the changes about to take place and reward behaviors that are illustrative of the positive impact of a culture transformation. On the other hand, don’t be too coercive. You want your employees to be excited about the upcoming transition, not resentful because they were forced into it.

Hopefully at this point, you've recruited a sizable following that is pro culture change. Now, it would be beneficial to create a task force or a culture team (Wall Street Journal). Although this would be in addition to an employee’s present workload, this team would be created as a way to advocate for and encourage others to get on board with the changes occurring in the company. Using the people that you found to be excited about the culture shift, get them more involved by being on the task force. A mixture between generations and departments would also be ideal. This diversity provides different perspectives, which creates ripe discussions and gets idea flowing on how to move forward.

Once you have a task force in place, look at changing the current policies (TLNT: The Business of HR). Whether it is HR policies or routines that have become company norms, discuss how to best approach these issues with the task force. Make modifications as necessary. If you find something isn't working the way you thought it would, revisit the idea with the team and devise something that will work better for the company.

Finally, accountability is vital (TLNT: The Business of HR). Keep in check with the culture team or task force to make sure that everyone is doing their part. If an employee made a commitment to be part of the change, then see to it that they are sticking to their guns when faced with opposition from others. As previously stated, this won’t be an easy task. So always check in with the team to be sure everyone is still passionate about the changes and that they aren't losing sight of the end goal!

Whatever the case may be for your workplace, whether it is low employee morale, reduced productivity, or negative attitudes, these guidelines will help jump start the transformation process. The process will be a tough one, but when it’s a success, it will have been completely worth all the hard work and effort!

Topics: Leadership, Employee Engagement, Talent Management