Big Steps to Change Corporate Culture
Just like a company’s strategy and people, workplace culture cannot remain stagnant. A corporate culture needs to constantly shift and align with the marketplace realities, business priorities, and talent management strategies. Unfortunately, leadership teams often wait too long to take the big steps to change corporate culture to match their new strategies.
Underestimating the Performance Impact of Culture
We define culture as the collective stuff (values, beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, stories, communications, practices, and behaviors) that defines how things get done on a day-to-day basis. Our organizational alignment research found company culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing teams and organizations in terms of revenue, profitability, customer retention, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.
If you want to transform any part of your organization, people must begin to think, act, and work in different ways. Changing the way people think, act, and work requires high levels of clarity, empathy, persistence, resolve, and rigor.
Desired Culture and Conflicts
Unfortunately too many companies have an unclear definition of how they expect employees to behave or have conflicting performance measures and goals.
How can you expect to perform at your peak if behavior and performance expectations are unclear or if day-to-day decisions undermine long-term strategies to change?
Ways to Change Corporate Culture
There are several options for steps to change corporate culture available to companies. You can hire new leadership, you can change your values, you can change how people are held accountable and rewarded, or you can restructure the organization. While all four options have some merit depending upon what you are trying to accomplish and why, here are the eight big steps to change corporate culture:
A clear corporate strategy sets the foundation for high levels of purpose, meaning and connection — three critical elements to set the stage for culture change.
Strategic Clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams and organizations. Do not make the mistake of trying to change your cultural or team norms unless your strategy is clear and attuned to the marketplace challenges you face.
— Market Approach: from adopter to leader
— Customers: from transactional to intimate
— Loyalty: from individual to company
— Focus: from internal to external
— Risk Tolerance: from low to high
— Operational Approach: from low to high process variation
— Decision Making: from centralized to decentralized
— Information: from fact-based to intuition-based
— Atmosphere: from social to disciplined
— Results: from “the how” to “the what”
Your culture champions will be responsible for helping people to feel good about what is being asked of them by creating emotional engagement and connection.
Everyone should understand their unique contribution to the effort and how culture change will benefit the organization, their team, and them as an individual.
The Bottom Line
If you are determined, a winning and aligned culture need not be out of reach. Have the courage to tackle the problem…but do so with objectivity, careful planning, good and frequent communication, consistent modeling of the desired behaviors and readiness to refresh the plan as needed.
To learn more about the steps to change corporate culture, download The 3 Research-Backed Levels of a High Performance Culture that Leaders Must Get Right
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