The key to a successful culture change


Over the last 6 months I have met many businesses who want to evolve, grow into their next 'version' or just alter their perspective in relation to a certain business problem.

What is 'culture'? Culture is the people, the 'way things are done around here', the decision making process, the dress code, rituals...need I go on! These are all engrained in the DNA of the business, they become a sub-conscious way of life, something individuals tune into when starting work.

What's the problem with this? Nothing at all, but issue tends to arise when the change becomes a challenge or doesn't materialise as quickly as businesses expect it to.

I've seen many occasions where a business may hire someone against 'the grain'.  "We need someone different to shake things up a little or add a different dynamic" they often say. It goes without saying that people hired continually by the same managers will fit a similar type, but trying to force a 'dynamic' individual into an organisation will lead to the immovable object meeting the unstoppable force.

I have seen 'dynamic' employees, filled with enthusiasm and energy to inject change, coming up against tradition and hesitation. Something has to give, either new blood gets consumed and becomes one of the masses or leave as they 'just don't fit'.

An example - getting individuals to consider the workload of others when delegating work

By asking a simple question, "What else do you have on?" should elicit a conversation that creates effective team work and leads to cooperation and conscientious working.
Why is this proving so difficult? I have no idea, it should come as second nature but for one simple reason doesn't; historic working practices have created a culture of solitary target driven objectives.

The initial impact of a Consultant, Mentor or Coach will stimulate a culture shift and create design thinking, but what happens when the external stimulus has gone? The organisation and individuals often revert to type.

This is where I present you with the key things to do that will successfully change your culture without problems and in a swift, effective manner.

Well I'm sorry they don't exist, not in a scripted, recipe kind of way, but the following are some things I have come across that can help.

  1. Stop reviewing, create thinking or reflecting in the environment you are trying to change. Use other venues, unique environments you haven't been to before.
  2. Be responsible for your own actions and desire to change. Stop using excuses or waiting for others to adopt or initiate it.
  3. Focus on the things that are really important and can be influenced, not those you think are important, nor those that force you into a no-win situation.
  4. Ask for help. There is no shame in asking those you want to adopt change for help, involvement at an early stage is sometimes a great way to build collaboration.
  5. While I would never recommend changing the people on a whim, it should be considered as a last resort.

I don't claim change culture is always possible, but I can provide help and the tools to enable you, the owners of the business, to do give it a good shot.