You want to improve the culture in your workplace, but how do you make it happen? You’ve tried a culture-change initiative and it didn’t work. Or maybe you’ve heard from others who have. They complained about the results or lack thereof. Either way, you’re struggling with what to do next, because what you’re doing now just isn’t working. The culture isn’t changing and you’re tired of losing your best people.
There Is Hope! Yes, You Can Make It Happen!
I understand your frustration; it feels like you’re trying to turn a freighter and need the full ten miles to do it. Your leadership, management, and staff are committed to the organization’s mission and the consumers of the organization’s services. But, you are facing two challenges, both of which are detracting from everyone’s focus on the mission. The first detractor is the inevitable differences in work style, which cause friction between team members – this happens 360 degrees. The second detractor is that front-line managers, many of them newly promoted, don’t yet have the skills necessary to effectively manage their teams. The result is low morale, poor retention, and complaints and disciplinary actions that occupy much of HR’s time. But all is not lost—keep reading!
The first step you must take is to choose a culture-improvement initiative. Pick something that affects everyone in your organization from the top to the bottom. Select an initiative that will more easily garner support, and once that momentum is built, you can scale up to more lofty initiatives. So what do you do, specifically, to make sure your initiative is successful?
The Six Keys to Improving Your Organization’s Culture
Whatever the culture-improvement initiative, if you adhere to these six keys, you will improve your culture and a whole lot more.
Senior leadership must be committed to both the change and the process. It can’t just come from HR. Everyone on the leadership team must be committed to supporting the initiative.
You truly engage staff in the initiative. They participate, learn, practice, and use the new skills and gain new perspectives. A talking head saying “do this better” is insufficient at best and demoralizing at worst. Get them involved and you’ll get the buy-in you desire.
Surprisingly, this can be a real challenge. You can’t just rely on one means of communication; use multiple channels: email, newsletters, and staff meetings, for example. You have to reach everyone.
In organizations in which leadership is investing in improving the culture, there is usually a lack of trust. The best cure for distrust is transparency. Be open about what you’re doing and why. Celebrate successes and admit less-than-successes.
Include everyone. Seriously. The organization may not provide the same training to all levels of staff that it provides to senior leadership, but if you leave anyone out, you risk slowing down and even derailing a culture-change initiative. Remember, it’s easier for managers to manage staff who have bought into the new way of collaborating.
6. Leveraging the Microcosm
Don’t assume you know what each group within your organization needs. If you ask a representative group (the “microcosm”) for input and insight, you’re much more likely to deliver an initiative that makes a difference because it meets a need.
I’d love to hear what your experience with culture change has been. Write or call us anytime. If you found this interesting share with your friends and colleagues. If you want more, download my article published in Law Practice called “Culture Matters.” In it, I further discuss the steps you can take to improve your teamwork and culture at your organization.