One of my clients, Deb, is working on changing the organizational culture in her division. She’s been at it for almost a year and is starting to get a little frustrated at how long it’s taking. With increasing competition, her organization needs to be more nimble in order to respond to the market. But nimbleness just isn’t in their DNA.
Organizational culture isn’t just this ephemeral concept – it’s simply about the choices each person makes every day. Simple.
“Should I double-check this email before I send it?” an employee thinks. If accuracy is important, then yes – double-check for spelling, for meaning and that you’re clear about what’s the most important next step for the receiver. If speed is important, then no – trust that you’ve got 80% of the information in there and the receiver will check with you for the other 20%.
Deb is getting frustrated because her organization is not getting the message. She’s been following the recipe
for helping to change organizational culture:
- Learn from the past. She shares examples from times when they lost business to the competitor.
- Create a culture that aligns with your core values. She starts every conference call with an example of nimbleness.
- Find great people who complement you. She’s got a great leadership team who know each others strengths and weaknesses.
- Communicate. She holds an employee town hall every quarter.
- Have fun. She took her top 50 leaders to NASCAR to emphasize speed and reaction times.
- Invite people to drink the Kool-Aid. She sits down with key stakeholders and asks them their concerns.
She’s going to try a few new things this year to send the message that the culture needs to change. So far most of her approaches have been with the carrot, but she thinks it is time for the stick. She’s going to deal once and for all with her main resistor by removing him from his position. She’s going to get a project manager that tracks speed and accuracy of completed projects – and canceling those projects that aren’t meeting their milestones.
They say it takes 2-3 years
to really make an organizational culture stick. She’s absolutely on the right path, now it’s just about staying that path.