Changing a company’s culture is complex. Human beings are creatures of habits, tied to those habits are certain behaviours that would have been entrenched and become the culture of an organisation.
Corporate culture is inseparable from the emotional and social dynamics of people in the organisation. The question that confronts every leader is how to change the culture of an organisation. This is not an event, it is a process. It will also take time and leader’s commitment to the process.
Convey the aspiration
What is the current culture of the organisation? You cannot change the culture of an organisation without an understanding of the current culture. Creating a new culture thus should begin with an analysis of the current one, using a framework that can be openly discussed throughout the organisation.
Leaders should understand what outcomes the culture produces and how it does or doesn’t align with current and anticipated market and business conditions.
You may be presiding for example over a primary culture that emphasis on results and authority but it exists in a rapidly changing industry, shifting toward learning or enjoyment (while keeping focus on results) may be appropriate.
Develop leaders for the target culture
It is Dr John C. Maxwell who once remarked, that “Everything rises and falls on Leadership.” The culture you build is dependent on the leaders that you put in place to champion that particular culture.
The team that you build is important in order for your to attain the new culture that you are seeking to build. You therefore need to select and develop leaders who align with the target culture.
Leaders are important catalysts for culture change. They encourage and champion it at all levels. The recruitment of the team members becomes important. Evaluation should focus on their alignment with the target culture. There is need for an approach that can assess both organisational culture and individual leadership styles.
Serving leaders who are unsupportive of desired change can be engaged and re-energised through training and education about the important relationship between culture and strategic direction.
The clarity and understanding of the change, and its relevance, its anticipated benefits, and the impact that they personally can have on moving the organisation toward the aspiration will contribute greatly in getting them on board.
There is also a cost to culture change, it can trigger turnover as some employees feel that there is no longer room for them in the organisation. Some will have to be asked to leave should their presence threaten the intended culture change.
Entrench priority of change through conversations
The quality of the conversations in an organisation are important. What do you talk about with your team consistently. The moment you become deliberate and intentional about change conversations, such conversations become normal.
The role of the leader is to start, and nurture organisational conversations about culture to underscore the importance of change.
Colleagues in an organisation should normalise talking to one another through the change in the organisation. These conversations will in turn nurture the importance of the shift in the shared norms, beliefs, and implicit understandings within an organisation about the priority of the culture evolution.
Employees often follow the direction of their leaders. As they begin to notice that their leaders are talking about new business outcomes — innovation instead of quarterly earnings, for example — they will begin to behave differently themselves, creating a positive feedback loop.
There are also other interventions that the organisation can put in place to support the evolution such as such as road shows, listening tours, and structured group discussion. Social media platforms can also help in encouraging conversations between senior managers and frontline employees.
Appoint influential change champions in the organisation to advocate for a culture shift through their language and actions. You can make a meaningful change in your culture and employee engagement by creating a structured framework for dialogue and cultivating widespread discussion.
Work on the organisational design
Strategy, structures, systems and skills are important in developing an enabling corporate culture. These need to be aligned so that the process of culture shift become easier. The desired change must be reinforced through organisational design. You can use performance management to encourage employees to embody aspirational cultural attributes.
Training as well can be used to reinforce the target culture as the organisation grows and adds new people.
The point has been made earlier on that change is not easy, but it necessary for the survival of the organisation. This requires every team member to be part of it so that they will not work against it.
Organisational performance can be improved culture change. There is no one model that works, you can adopt a model that will best give result guided by the context within which you are operate in.
The leader as highlighted in earlier articles must be aware of the culture that operates in their organisation.
With that awareness, the leader can then define the an aspirational target culture. This speaks to a greater deal of clarity of what the leader wants to see.
With the clarity of the desired culture, the leader must be able to convey the aspiration, align the leadership within the organisation, commence and nurture organisational conversation, and align organisational design to give life to the target culture.
A healthy corporate culture can present a potent source of sustainable competitive advantage left to businesses today in a highly competitive society.
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Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development. Arthur is the author of “Toys for Adults” a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge. Send your feedback to [email protected] or Visit his website www.arthurmarara.com or contact him on WhatsApp: wa.me//263780055152 or call +263772467255.