14 Jun, 2012
All Change – Sometimes The Only Way Forward Is A Rethink – By Lindsey Agness
Posted by: Bev James In: Business Tips
Now more than ever, businesses need to be flexible and adaptable in the face of the increasingly challenging business world we operate in. Sometimes, the best course for a business is to alter the way it does things.
Whether it’s a big amendment or a small one, changing corporate culture is heavy duty stuff and isn’t the sort of challenge you take on because it’s the ‘in thing’ to do. You do it because you have to in a attempt to survive, or, if you’re smart enough, you do it before you are forced to.
Some organisations start the process then don’t have enough resilience to carry things through, while others tinker around the edges and wonder why they don’t get the results they expected. Against this difficult yet stimulating backdrop, here are my top tips to change culture successfully:
Tip 1: Identify the rules of the game
Essentially, these are the unconscious rules of the organisation. It’s what everyone learns when they join your company yet they are never taught. If you imagine an iceberg, the rules of the game (ROTG) represent what goes on beneath the water level – or as I call it – your business ‘immune’ system.
Unless you are able to overwhelm its offences it will launch a counter – offensive once the culture-change programme is underway, and it often wins. It’s vital to identify your ROTG before you get started on a culture change programme so you can anticipate what you are really dealing with, and make plans as part of the process to overcome them.
Tip 2: Align culture with business strategy
While this is a relatively passive step, it is important to define the ‘desired state’. It involves systematically setting out your mission, vision and purpose, values and beliefs, capabilities, behaviours and environment that align and reinforce the strategic direction of your business.
In terms of level of effort and impact, this step probably takes approximately 10% of the effort of your culture change initiative has little impact on its own. Yet, it sets a firm foundation for change.
Tip 3: Actively communicate the new culture
Active communication is an essential component of any culture change programme. Staff should receive regular and targeted communications, which build a compelling case for change and outline the benefits to them.
In terms of level of effort and impact, this step probably takes 20% of the effort of your culture change initiative and will begin to have an impact on your business.
However, steps two and three will not in themselves deliver successful long-term culture change because there is still no real incentive for staff to do anything differently.
Tip 4: Take business actions to shift the culture
this is all about how to reinforce the new culture at an organisational level. This involves re-alinging your HR policies and procedures to the changes.
- Performance management
- Reward and recognition
- Learning and development
- Dealing with those staff members who continually demonstrate resistance.
these changes will speed up the culture change process and ensure that changes are embedded within the business. This step accounts for approximately 30% of the impact of the programme and will begin to make an important shift in your organisation.
However, even this may not be enough if the leaders of the organisation do not visibly support the process.
Tip 5: Be the change you want to see in your business!
Implementing successful cultural change cannot be achieved without adequate leadership resolve – leadership is by far the strongest lever of cultural change, accounting for approximately 40% of the impact of change.
This final step is all about the leaders in your business demonstrating the values, beliefs, capabilities and behaviours they want their staff to embody and having the resolve to change the ROTG. So often leaders adopt a ‘do as I say’.
Nothing sabotages the success of culture change more than this.
Tip 6: Keep going
From the outset, take the initiative and keep going, or the old culture will begin to dictate the terms and conditions regarding how the change will be carried out. Remember that embedded beliefs, values and patterns of behaviour wield tremendous voltage.
It doesn’t make any sense to attempt to change the rules of the game according to the old rules. The approach to culture change that is discussed here will get you to your outcome if you are prepared to keep focused and keep going.