The Challenge of How to Actively Involve Employees in Corporate Culture Change
It would be so easy to achieve corporate culture change if all it took was a top-down mandate. Executives could simply dictate the way they want things done. Unfortunately for many leaders, mandates from above work in very few corporate environments these days.
But culture is about a lot more than how to get the job done. Beyond how people work, company culture includes the way people think and behave and all the known and unspoken values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors. In other words, there is a big part of workplace culture that involves the hearts and minds of employees that cannot be controlled simply by exerting executive authority.
Actively Involve Employees in Corporate Culture Change
To achieve true corporate culture change, employees need to be actively involved in the process. They need to understand why culture change is needed, buy into how change will improve their circumstances, and actively participate in the effort to transform the everyday behaviors, habits and mindset that support a shift in the corporate culture. The question is: how can an organization galvanize their employees to effectively participate in and promote culture change? In other words, how can you actively involve employees in corporate culture change?
Employees as Culture Change Agents
The most effective and efficient way to accomplish culture change is to actively involve employees in corporate culture change. You need to influence them to become culture change agents.
1. Articulate a Compelling Purpose
First leaders need to define the company’s fundamental purpose in a concise, compelling and inspirational way. Employees need to be able to easily identify with the grand reason their organization exists; they want to share a company vision that appeals not only to their rational, but also their emotional, side. Today’s employees want to be engaged in a meaningful enterprise. Express your company’s reason for being in a way that employees will sign up for in both mind and heart.
2. Translate Aspirations into Actions
Vision and Mission statements provide focus and purpose but actions are what propel change. Ask each employee to think of ways they can support the change through actions in their current job. Employees should understand that they will play a critical role in the culture transformation and their actions will drive the overall success of the initiative. Recognize these simple actions as the beginnings of a movement—small demonstrations of progress toward outcomes the organization cares about.
3. Gather Converts
Slowly the early adopters of the change will inspire others to follow them. Success begets success. By celebrating the small wins, the culture change gains recruits and steam. Use all means at your disposal—company newsletters, social media, team and company-wide meetings—to trumpet steps in the right direction in order to encourage others to march along with you.
4. Sustain the Vision
The challenge now becomes one of staying on track. Watch for systems and processes that impede success and then adjust them. Identify detractors and either persuade them to support the change or to move on. Keep the momentum going and celebrate progress.
The Bottom Line
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your executive power and authority are all that’s needed to effect corporate culture change. You need the active, committed involvement of your work force to succeed.
To learn more, download Do You have a High Performance Organizational Culture to Drive Your Strategy?
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