5 Steps to Better Adopt a New Cultural Norm

5 Steps to Better Adopt a New Cultural Norm
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Difficult but Achievable
The challenge to adopt a new cultural norm across your organization is difficult but not impossible. In fact, it occurs frequently in multi-national companies when they stumble across gaps in culture due to vastly different communication and working styles from one country to another.

When these gaps are identified and threaten ongoing business, companies work hard to bridge the cultural miscommunications and misunderstandings. It takes a concerted effort and commitment on both sides of the divide to solve the problem, but better workplace collaboration can be achieved.

Understanding Culture
We define corporate culture as how things truly get done in an organization. It includes the known and unspoken values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors.  Workplace culture can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave and work.  While often invisible, each organizational culture has its own cultural norms, the standards that employees follow to blend into the workplace.

Our organizational alignment research found that culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performance.   How leaders define and shape their corporate culture has become a critical variable in defining the success and failure of their strategies. And we know that company cultures, regardless of their strength, progress and change over time.

Sometimes a previously accepted norm becomes a factor that inhibits, rather than promotes, strategy execution. What can and should leaders do to adopt a more success-oriented cultural norm?

5 Steps to Better Adopt a New Cultural Norm Across a Company

  1. Clarify the Situation
    Your first step is to identify the specific aspects of your corporate culture that are preventing your company from firing on all cylinders. Is it your decision-making culture, the norms around structure vs. flexibility, the emphasis on individual as opposed to team achievement?

    Before you can shift a cultural norm, you need to understand the current situation and identify what behavior you want to change, exactly why, and what the shift will accomplish.
  2. Follow the Best Practices of Successful Change Management
    To achieve any real change in an organization, you have to create a convincing case for why change matters. And then you need the buy-in and commitment from every stakeholder who will be involved.

    Actively involve stakeholders in the change process, invite feedback, and listen carefully to their doubts and concerns. Do what it takes to secure their support and enlist a team of culture champions to track how change is progressing, where it may stall, and why.
  3. Ensure Support and Alignment
    It is not just support from the employees that will make the difference; you also need to ensure that all company systems, processes, and communications are aligned with and reinforce the desired changes that you seek.
  4. Provide Training as Needed
    If, for instance, you are trying to change the way decisions are made in the organization, you may have to provide some decision making training as to what the new process entails, how each employee can participate in the process, and how decision-making responsibilities will be shared and managed.
  5. Be Patient and Consistent
    Remember that cultural shifts often take time. Behavior change may come more slowly than you would like as a leader. The key is to make sure things are moving in the right direction and that you encourage the right behaviors at every opportunity.

The Bottom Line
Organizational culture is often set in large part by its leaders. If you determine your culture needs to shift in order to be better aligned with your strategy, get to work on adopting the new cultural norm by following the tips above.

To learn more about how to better live your desired workplace culture, download 3 Research-Backed Levels of Culture to Get Culture Change Right

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