Culture Development

Initiating Effective Culture Change in the Workplace

The success of a company is greatly influenced by its organizational culture. A well-suited organizational culture not only attracts and keeps top talent but also boosts employee engagement. This means that your company will have a competitive advantage in the market.

What exactly is company culture, though, and how does it affect both new hires and current team members? Furthermore, what can organizations do to create a corporate culture that consistently produces positive outcomes?

The better your company’s organizational culture matches its goals and plans, the more it’ll benefit your business. By teaming up with Culture Partners, you can establish the culture you want, connect it to your long-term business goals, and spread consistent changes in behavior and responsibility across your organization.

Let’s talk about what initiating culture change within your company entails below.

Team members working together 

What is Cultural Change in the Workplace?

Cultural change happens when a company actively encourages its employees to embrace behaviors and perspectives that better match the company’s goals and values. This might mean giving your employees more autonomy or setting up a mentorship program.

Making sure that employee behaviors align with the company’s current and future business goals is more important than you might think, especially when it comes to situations like merging two organizations with different cultures.

Remember, your employees are what make your company operate like a well-oiled machine. Making sure that everyone’s on the same page, as far as company culture goes, is the best way to ensure long-term success for your company.

How to Initiate Culture Change

One of the most common questions business owners have is: How should I go about initiating culture change? The good news is, there are plenty of ways to initiate culture change. Let’s talk about the steps you can take below:

Take a Look at the Existing Culture

What behaviors do you notice? Are there shared terms or routines when it comes to team dynamics, project processes, business case development, and network security? A lot of people mistakenly assume that a company’s culture is consistent across the board, but that’s usually not true.

Typically, employees will use different terms and follow different routines based on what departments they’re in. Evaluating both the overall company culture and the unique internal subcultures within your workplace will help you get a feel for the current culture — and what could be improved upon.

Take Accountability

To initiate culture change, you must take accountability and lay out your vision for your employees. This means painting a clear picture of what success looks like and acknowledging both the perks and challenges that come with it. Communication is key here — you’ll need to communicate the company’s vision and goals across the entire organization so that everyone understands their part and what they need to bring to the table to reach these defined goals.

Another important part of implementing an accountability culture is setting expectations and creating feedback systems. This will involve outlining the behaviors and outcomes you’re aiming for and making sure that you communicate consistently with your employees. Steer clear of a punishment-focused approach as this can create a toxic culture, and encourage open communication. This should result in a positive feedback loop and contribute to a more positive company culture.

Two men shaking hands as a sign of respect

Bring in a Culture Consultant

You can also initiate culture change by bringing in a culture consultant — preferably one with a track record in steering cultural shifts for other companies. This person should be capable of taking the lead in implementing the necessary actions for the cultural shift. Culture Partners offers workplace culture consulting services and industry expertise to help facilitate this culture change, so feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation.

Alternatively, you can establish a role within the leadership team — someone who’s responsible for coordinating, planning, and overseeing corporate culture initiatives. This is simply a matter of approaching culture change with an innovative mindset.

Set Realistic Goals

Once you’ve assessed the current culture and have taken accountability by communicating your goals with your team members, it’s time to share the results with the stakeholders. Given the various ways the data can be interpreted, gathering diverse viewpoints will be helpful here. We’d recommend bringing together a focus group so that you can delve into the ultimate vision you’re aiming for.

Setting cultural goals involves quite a bit of strategy. Keep in mind that these goals need to be realistic. Needless to say, the impact of goals for a smaller company will differ from that of a company with thousands of team members. At this point (or earlier if you haven’t done it already), you should allocate a budget to assess feasibility and the capacity for innovation needed to achieve your goals.

Include Employees When Redefining Cultural Processes

When redefining processes tied to culture change, you need to involve your employees. These are the processes they’ll be working within, after all, and their input can make a big difference. For example, in IT organizations, network, and development team members have valuable information that can improve security, close loopholes, and streamline project delivery.

We’d recommend taking this practical approach: Get the leads of your different teams involved in the conversation about culture change. You can also send out an employee survey. 

Expect Problems to Come Up

As a business leader, you must stay grounded and actively seek out signs of issues as the new corporate culture unfolds. You should have allies within each of your teams that are making these cultural changes happen. Your team members should have a designated contact person to share their confusion, ideas, and concerns with.

Remember that, no matter how prepared you might be, this process can be rocky. You’ll need to think fast on your feet and be ready to identify and address problems as they arise, one at a time. Sit with each problem, show your team members that you care and are listening to their concerns, and work together to come up with solutions.

Build Momentum By Moving Quickly and Decisively

There will always be a group of people who may not embrace the changes that the culture shift brings. This group could potentially become a source of resistance. Talking with these individuals privately, behind closed doors, with open transparency and support, will be essential when it comes to maintaining the culture change and making sure that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to cultural values.

Try to think of this as a valuable opportunity to inspire and guide your team members. The age-old question of “What’s in it for me” holds for a lot of people, and those resisting cultural change will need to have this conversation facilitated for them with respect and attentive listening. This is a great example of how you, as a leader, will play a major role in initiating culture change.

Commit to the Process

Committing to a culture change is the easy part — staying on track with this change is the real challenge. To make it work for you, your messaging has to be consistent, frequent, transparent, and integrated into the everyday actions of your team members. If improving accountability culture is part of the new overall company culture, you, as a leader, must be open, unafraid of vulnerability, and able to demonstrate how you’re being accountable.

Make it clear that accountability is the standard for day-to-day operations, and this will propel other aspects of change, like trust, team building, and productivity. Initiating culture change is about employees’ actions meshing well with how the company views and values itself, its people, and its customers. Persistence is key — reinforce your message repeatedly to breathe life into the new culture every so often.

Once again, we’d also recommend seeking support from an organizational culture consulting service, like Culture Partners. Professionals in this field can provide you with guidance that’s specifically tailored to your company’s unique needs. This is a great way to ensure a smooth transition, and it should help to increase effectiveness, too, when it comes to sustaining cultural change.

Building a Culture of Curiosity

Encouraging curiosity at work has a real impact on employee well-being, retention, productivity, and innovation. To implement curiosity culture into your overall company culture, you’ll want to embrace these key phrases:

“Tell Me More”

Respond to your team members with genuine curiosity by saying “Tell me more” when they ask questions or otherwise seek out your attention. This practice can strengthen your relationships with your employees, and it can help reduce burnout and stress, too. By saying “Tell me more,” you’ll be encouraging your employees to think through their problems and, ultimately, be more engaged.

“I Don’t Know”

When leaders openly acknowledge that they don’t know the answer or solution right off the bat, they are open to different viewpoints. Admitting that you “don’t know” will help to create an open and honest workplace environment. It’ll also build trust within the team and positively shape your team members’ perceptions of you as a leader.

“Who Else?”

Asking “Who else” is a great way to seek out unique perspectives from your team members. Using these phrases in your daily interactions will help to instill deep curiosity within your team members. Along with what we’ve already talked about above, there’s no better way to shape a corporate culture that values inquiry, promotes creativity, and fosters collaboration.

Start Building Your Culture Today

The process of initiating culture change doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. The better your culture matches your overall purpose and business strategy, the better it’ll be for your business. Set up a meeting with Culture Partners, and we can work together to create and shape the culture you want.

We’ll take your long-term business goals into account, as well as expand behavior change and accountability across your organization. Let us help you build your culture! Schedule an hour with one of our senior partners to talk about your goals. We’re happy to help!

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