The Challenge of Culture Change
Organizational change is always challenging, but culture change is especially difficult because it requires changing employee mindsets and behaviors as to how work gets done. It requires changing business practices to change culture. Even when leaders clearly and repeatedly articulate the vision for change, Bain & Company found that only 12% of organizational change efforts produce the desired results.
The question is why?
What are these change leaders missing in their efforts to change culture and reap the rewards of success?
We define an organization’s culture as the unique combination of the values, beliefs, and attitudes of its workforce as a whole that govern how and why work gets done.
Organizational culture matters. And when we assess corporate culture, the vast majority of senior leaders recognize its importance in terms of performance and employee engagement. Sadly, the research also found that less than one-third of respondents behave in ways that align with the desired culture and even fewer manage business practices that support the culture they profess should be adopted.
What Is Missing?
In addition to more consistently modeling the behaviors that you seek, what is the missing link between the communication of culture and its actual practice in employees’ day to day work? Culture is actually changed when leaders not only communicate the importance of culture and behave in a way that is aligned with that culture but when they manage the policies, processes, and organizational structures that support the culture they want to best execute their business and people strategies.
The greatest impact on workforce culture is achieved when leaders operationalize communication and behavior — when they can bring the culture to life from the C-suite to the frontlines.
From the Abstract to the Specific
Change management consulting experts know that leaders must be able to translate abstract goals into specific behaviors and then ensure appropriate business processes are in sync.
For example, one recent client had the abstract cultural goal of increasing sales team collaboration to win bigger deals faster while playing to people’s strengths. The sales managers worked with sales, marketing, and support to analyze how they currently approached work and agree upon the key shifts in day-to-day work that were required to become more collaborative.
In addition to sharing strategic account information across teams and functions, they agreed to meet weekly to discuss what they are doing, who they know, what they need, and how they can support one another. As they operate to increase revenue not as individual solution sellers, but as partners and teammates, collaboration becomes the flywheel of improved sales performance through changing business practices to change culture.
Are you redesigning systems, processes, and practices to explicitly embed your desired culture in how work gets done?
The Bottom Line
Are you doing all you can to put culture to work? It’s not enough to communicate or adjust personal behavior to conform to cultural objectives. To bring about culture change, you have to change business practices.
To learn more about changing business practices to change culture, download Changing Corporate Culture: 4 Do’s and 3 Don’ts
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