One of the biggest challenges that organizational leaders face is managing the culture change. The culture of an organization is the sum of the roles, processes, communication practices, values, attitudes and goals, closely interlocked, which every employee gets aligned with. However, every organization undergoes changes, time and again, owing to various reasons like changing market trends, regulations, customer expectations, mergers and acquisitions, which leads to alterations in the organization structure and processes. But in order to make those changes effective, it’s crucial to manage them strategically. According to a survey, conducted by Deloitte, 82 percent of more than 7,000 CEOs and HR leaders from 130 countries are of the opinion that organizational culture is a potential competitive advantage. 28 percent of the respondents stated that they understand their culture well and only 19 percent said that their organizations have the right culture.
Some leaders opine that culture change is a complex procedure and one needs to wait too long to get measurable results which makes the job not worth indulging into. However, indeed it is a complex process but the right blend of planning and management can provide a competitive advantage to the organizations. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing culture change in all organizations, here are a few common things that leaders can keep in mind to make the transition smooth.
- Clarify Your Vision
Clearly define your vision and what you want to achieve from the culture change. As the leader of the organization, you need to precisely describe the values and behaviors that you are seeking. Ensure that people know about your expectation and can relate to it. This also includes describing the changes that should be translated into actionable behaviors at all levels in the organization.
- Modify Strategies and Processes
Carefully analyze your organizational strategies and processes and find out how they can be better aligned with your vision. Consider all the HR processes like recruitment, compensation, performance management, promotions and employee benefits, and think about how these procedures can contribute to building the culture that you want. Also, strategize your succession planning to develop leaders that can take forward your vision.
- Select Proponents of Culture Change
In order to make the culture change effective, it’s important that your organization has proponents of the culture change. CEO and/or the Board or Directors could be the proponents and they should consider this as a priority. All the leaders of the organization should be on the same page regarding culture change and must understand its impact on the performances and procedures.
- Align Your Brand with Your Culture
Your brand in the marketplace must also reflect your company culture. This calls for a partnership between the HR and the marketing departments. In this digital era, it’s important to communicate the culture change to the stakeholders. Promoting a good cultural change could add to your company reputation whereas bad experiences for customers or employees, may tarnish it in no time.
- Explain What is Non-Negotiable
Before initiating the culture change, carefully analyze the current elements of your organizational culture and figure out which of them you want to retain. HR professionals have a crucial role to play in this regard. Highlight the aspects which are non-negotiable under any condition. This is especially important in case of mergers and acquisitions when two or more leaders join hands to find out a way of blending their identities.
- Measure the Outcomes
Getting measurable results makes things easier to manage. Once you initiate a culture change, it’s crucial to measure the outcomes through employee surveys and data analytics. This helps the leaders know how effective their efforts are. Identify the gaps between the actual behavior and the desired behavior by employing the right assessment techniques.
- Be Patient
It takes time for a culture change to be successfully implemented. The task can be accomplished in months or sometimes in years, depending on the organization structure. You should start by identifying the need of culture change. This should be followed by measuring the gap between what your organization has and what it wants to achieve. Meanwhile, leaders need to kill the urge to rush things as this entire process takes time and should be allowed to proceed in its own pace.
- Make Investments
Do not wait for resources and the right employees to initiate culture change. Begin where you are by making whatever investments you can. Managing culture change is not something which can be accomplished in a day or a week. It takes time and a lot of efforts, and a sharp focus on different aspects; and waiting for the right time isn’t going to help.
Culture change is a complex process, for sure, and as a leader you need to be bold and enterprising to make it work. It’s not just about influencing others but also about encouraging people to become proactive in making the change effective.