My friend is not alone in this struggle. It is hard to shake the old way of doing things even when the better way is clear. The process of changing the culture of any organization can be a daunting task.
Yet it has been done before and there are several key things my friend can do to enhance the process of his organizational culture change.
1. Create a vision and mission: A vision statement is a formal statement of organizational philosophy, it is the big picture of what an organization plans to achieve over time. It is a short, powerful statement that should apply to ALL members of the organization from the highest manager to the janitorial staff and should be easily repeated by any employee at any given time.
The mission statement defines the present purpose of the organization. It should cover what the organization does and what it stands for, how it accomplishes its goals and who it provides its services to.
Employees should be able to look at both the vision and mission statements as a guide on how to make decisions within the organization and clearly understand where the organization stands and where their individual efforts should ultimately lead.
2. Attack from every angle: It is not enough to stand up and give a speech on the importance of the new way of doing things. A speech is a starting point but the message should be driven home from every angle of the organization. The way the office is designed, the art on the walls, the slogans used in the organization, the stories told in meetings, the conversations had throughout the day should all be an example of the new positive culture being created.
3. Deliberate Role Modeling: Managers and supervisors should be the highest examples of the new culture they desire to create. If there in disunity amongst senior leadership, any organizational culture changing effort will fail. Their interactions with their employees should reflect the highest ideals of the organization. They must become what they are teaching. Be responsible for ensuring what is done each day is actually compatible with where the organization needs to go. Disconnect between the day to day efforts and ultimate vision will crush any culture changing effort. Consistent coaching, follow up and personal interactions are all powerful tools in changing culture.
4. Focused Training: Too many organizations feel a single large training will suffice in changing culture. They then move on to other topics. This is an unproductive strategy. The ideals, goals and behavior associated with the new culture need to be the subject of every training! The principles need to be driven home again and again, from diverse angles and with practical application until they are no longer the exception but the norm.
5. Help your team see why: If people can’t see why a culture change is necessary and beneficial, they will likely never change. Helping the team catch the vision of the why behind the change, the ultimate possibilities for both them and the organization is crucial. Remind them of the why and the what and how will be more readily received. Explain the what and how without the why and your efforts will likely fail.
Helping an organization to achieve a new, more productive, service oriented culture is a noble cause. It is these kinds of culture changes that have far reaching impacts on organizations and their members. Through sustained planning and effort this type of transformation is not only possible but greatly enhances the organization’s opportunities for long term, sustainable success.