7 Tips to Change Your Company Culture

 

We live in a world that is rapidly changing in many ways. Major advances in technology and communication occur almost on a weekly basis, and these changes, in turn, catalyse major cultural transformations. For example, we are now able to communicate rapidly and constantly with almost anyone in the world; which wasn’t possible just a few decades ago.

How do organisations cope with these changes, and adapt to a changing world by changing themselves? Well, in our experience the process of changing an organisation’s culture is one of the biggest leadership challenges there is and requires a highly visionary and resourceful leadership.

How do organisations cope with these changes, and adapt to a changing world by changing themselves? Well, in our experience the process of changing an organisation’s culture is one of the biggest leadership challenges there is and requires a highly visionary and resourceful leadership.

The culture of any group of people is a reflection of its values, and while that may sound like a “soft” variable, it can be one of the hardest things to change, especially if it’s already well entrenched, or has been around for a while. Here are 7 tips that will help you to change organisational culture while avoiding resistance and conflict:

1. Start by analysing your existing company culture

Every organisation has a culture, whether it’s intentional or not. So the starting point for any culture change is to define the state of your current culture. What are its strengths and weaknesses?

To work with an organisation's culture, you need to understand what makes it tick, from the high-level executive view all the way down to the behaviour and relationships of individuals and teams. This process usually requires in-depth interviews with key individuals; as well as guided discussions within small groups of key individuals.

Once you have gathered all the information you need, this will help you define the most important changes necessary; as well as providing a benchmark to measure any future progress.

2. Define and discuss your organisational values

Has your company defined its guiding values, and are all employees aware of them? The values of a company are like its DNA – they help to shape everything that is done by its employees, and they define your organisational culture.

While most companies define their values at the top levels of leadership, it’s actually a great idea to include all levels of the organisational hierarchy in discussing them, since that will increase awareness and help everyone to identify with the values. The more you engage your team in discussing the values, the more consciously they will embrace them.

3. Work with key individuals to influence others

Leadership by example is one of the best ways to change human behaviour. People are more willing to adopt new behaviour if they see someone they trust and respect doing the same. So you need to find those key individuals, and work with them to develop the changes you’d like to see. Once you have them on board, it will be much easier to inspire others to follow.

4. Improve communication channels

Communication is at the heart of all human culture. We learn, express, and change our culture through communication. Hence it follows that the quality of communication within a company has a direct effect on the success or failure of any attempts to change its culture.

How effective is communication and integration between departments and individuals in your organisation? It’s severely important to improve the communication tools and behaviours in order to implement cultural change.

5. Showcase and praise successful changes in culture

As soon as you see desired positive changes in your company’s culture, make sure everyone knows about it. Also be sure to praise those who are involved. That will help to spread the new behaviour by positive reinforcement. In our experience, this is much more effective than putting pressure on people to change negative behaviour.

6. Use group learning tools such as seminars and workshops

If you want to change the culture of a group, often the most effective way is to engage them with group learning events. While this may reduce the hours spent working, it has the highly advantageous effect of introducing new values and culture changes of the entire group. Since everyone is on the same page after a group training event, it’s much easier to implement collective change.

7. Continue to measure changes and adjust your strategy

Cultural change is never finished. Once you have achieved breakthroughs in one area, you might discover weaknesses exposed in other areas. Or, a dynamically changing economy and/or company growth may force you to adjust your organisational culture. A startup with 15 employees faces completely different challenges than a mid-sized enterprise, or a multinational corporation.

Conclusion

Although changing organisational culture is incredibly challenging, it’s highly rewarding to invest in building a positive, healthy culture. Success in this area will help your company deal with all of the challenges that might lie ahead, and will provide a dependable resource of strength and creativity in your workforce that can be tapped anytime.


 
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CultureClive Morley