As organizations work to stay competitive or prepare to move to the next level, a common conversation centers on their corporate culture. Do they have the “right culture” to be successful? And if they determine they don’t, what should they do?
As a consultant to organizations working on culture change and talent management issues, here are my observations of how to effectively change the culture:
- Identify the symptoms that make you think the culture needs to be changed. Is it due to response to market changes? Need to innovate? Attracting and retaining talent? Or something else?
- Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey. Your employees can provide great insight.
- Based on the survey results, identify key messages, trends.
- Set up focus groups to delve into the key trends and get more specific information. These are usually most effective when outside consultants conduct them; employees are usually more willing to provide specific examples and suggestions to someone outside of the organization.
- Compare the results of the survey and focus groups with your original list of symptoms. Do they match? You may find that some of the problems and consequently, the solutions, are less drastic and easier to remedy than you originally thought.
- Identify and commit to working as an organization to make no more than three key changes.
- Working with cross-functional teams comprised of employees from all levels of the organization, begin laying out specific ways to accomplish the changes. Identify timelines, specific steps and actions, keeping in mind this may take a year or more to implement.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. In a 2002 McKinsey study on 40 organizations that embarked on implementing major change, a strong correlation emerged between successfully implementing the change and those organizations that communicated consistently and continually the vision of where they were going. Specifically, they found that when the leaders shared their stories of their hopes for the future, what the new organization would look like and the exciting new opportunities that the changes would allow, the employees embraced the changes more quickly and began to add their own visions and stories. This resulted in the majority of the employees feeling that they were valued as being part of the solution.
- Accept, encourage and model the idea that when change has a purpose and is planned and communicated, while the process may be painful at times, it is worth the effort.
Please share your observations and experiences of leading and implementing corporate culture change. What lessons did you take away?
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Mary Ann Gontin is managing partner of OI Global Partners – Cunis & Gontin, Inc. in Connecticut. Her firm has been providing human resources consulting services since 1974. Mary Ann has become recognized by clients for her ability to identify organizational and individual performance issues and propose creative and practical solutions. She can be reached at email@example.com or 800-473-4507.