Culture is essentially the way an organisation does things. Culture is something that is shared either in the organisation as a whole, or among specific groups or functions within the organisation. Culture drives the way in which people behave within the organisational setting. It’s important to organisations because the way it does things has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the organisation.
Culture is difficult to measure possibly because it is not a hard process that can be adapted and changed through the directives and policy. Instead culture is intangible, and is built from a mixture of norms, beliefs, values and symbols that are played out in the day-to-day machinations of organisational life.
Furthermore cultures are dynamic and change over a period of time, resulting from group interactions, leadership behaviour, organisational structure and rules of interaction. As people leave or join the organisation the culture of the organisation will shift over a period of time, the size of the shift will depend on the intensity of shared experience within the organisational setting.
Very often organisations will embark on business process reengineering or introduce lean practices in the pursuit of effectiveness but the outcome is disappointing. A 70% failure to achieve the goals of a change management programme is an expensive waste of often, high value, and high profile projects.
The failure is not because the methodology of the process improvements are flawed, but rather in their implementation they do not take into account the organisational culture.
For example, introducing new processes to improve forecasting and provide the platform for just in time manufacturer if an important strategy for organisations who wish to improve cost efficiencies and market responsiveness. However if the organisation’s norms, standards, values and working practices support behaviour in another direction the operational energy will pull away from the intended outcomes possibly resulting in serious damage to the organisations reputation and cost control.
There is no perfect culture that an organisation should aim to build. The culture of an organisation is a result of its past, present and possible futures. The right culture for the organisation is the culture that serves the organisations purposes. Culture can provide a key competitive advantage, but equally a strong organisation culture can lead to its failure, possibly as a result of arrogance, or complacency.
Top Tips for Leading Cultural Change
Today’s fast changing business environment means that many organisations need to change in order to sustain performance. Below are ten tips for leading culture change;
- Learn about the Culture – Our perception of reality may not be a reflection of truth. Instead, spend time learning, reflecting and exploring assumptions that have been made about the organisational culture. Discover what the culture of the organisation really is, asking simple questions as to why things are done the way they are done.
- Leadership Culture – Find out about the attitudes of the senior leaders and managers within the business, what is their readiness for change and how effective are they at role-modelling desired behaviours.
- Leadership Strategy – Build a strategy for the organisations leadership, understand the capability of the leadership team, and get them ready to lead, promote and encourage change within the organisation
- Align Culture Change – In every key project, or programme ensure that culture change is part of the programme. Establish a network of change agents and cultural action teams made up of future leaders to work cross-functionally and champion the new ways of working.
- Promote New Ways – If the organisation is serious about culture change, then it needs to promote it at every opportunity, and symbolically challenge and ‘bury’ those parts of the existing culture that need to change. Ensure people are clear about what is expected and give them a chance to grown and develop in the new ways of working.
- Be Relational – Trust is the cornerstone of culture change, rewarding and recognising those who demonstrate the desired new behaviours and aligning performance management and recruitment processes will reinforce new norms, beliefs and values.
Culture Change requires a critical mass of influencers within the organisation adopting the ‘new’ way of doing things in order for the culture to shift. Supporting those who do change, will create positive ripples throughout the organisational system, enabling the organisation to become better at identifying opportunities and improving organisational effectiveness.
Development with a Difference that Can Make a Difference
Do you want to develop your people and your organisation in a way that will add real value to your bottom line performance and deliver measurable ROI?
If you want to;
* be the change to your performance,
* be the change to your team dynamic,
* be the change to your leadership and
* be the change your Organization wants.