Five Steps to Drive Cultural Change
As companies grow, adapt and evolve your workplace culture will have to change with it.
While culture will, to a degree, always evolve organically, it’s a mistake to believe that it is too complex to be managed. Culture itself cannot be penned in or subjected to rigorous regulation; it can, however, be directed and encouraged, trained to grow in a desired direction.
If you are directing cultural change or trying to guide organic change there are five steps you can take to ensure the culture you end up with is best for your employees and most closely aligned with your organisational vision and structure.
Evaluate your current culture
The first step to managing cultural change should always be evaluating your existing culture. Quantitatively evaluate your current culture – find out what your employees believe your organisational values are and how successfully the organisation is conveying those values. This will help you to determine how much change is required and in what areas.
Align culture and business strategy
Clarify your business strategy and ensure that the cultural change is aligned with the business direction, vision and principles. Understand how the change will be reflected across the business including in formal structures, reporting, training, recruiting etc.
Understand why the cultural change is necessary. This will help to focus the process, understand the desired outcomes and create a workable path to achieve those outcomes.
Engage your employees
Change cannot happen without the involved and informed participation of people from across the organisation. It’s crucial that those involved understand the reasons for the change and the desired outcomes. Trying to change company behaviour or values without explaining why it’s important or what you hope to achieve by it will be a losing battle.
Encourage participation and input from as many people in the organisation as possible. Different viewpoints from across departments and business levels will ensure that everyone has a voice and that people across the organisation understand and are prepared for the changes.
However, while multiple diverse viewpoints are great, make sure that you maintain a specific team responsible for managing the change who are able to make timely and clear decisions to prevent an ambiguous vision or delay key actions.
Communicate and demonstrate changes
Continuous communication at all levels is necessary during the change process. Repeat your message much more often than you think is necessary. Most leaders greatly underestimate how many repetitions it takes for a message to sink in. Ensure that leaders across the business are champions for the change and that they are engaging in role model appropriate behaviour. Live the change through your words and actions so that employees can see the change in action.
Manage responses and evaluate progress
Employee responses during periods of change will often be driven by emotion. Being aware of and managing these responses can help to ease the transition process and eventually help to settle the change into the cultural DNA. Manage the anxiety, points of frustration, and need for emotional regulation that can naturally arise at critical points in a culture change.
Take time to evaluate how the change is progressing. Get feedback from your employees, assess the painpoints and refine the strategy as necessary. Pay particular attention to business performance, critical behaviours, milestones, feelings and mind-sets.