Critical DON’Ts of Cultural Change
Don’t Disrespect tradition. Your entire organizational culture may require shifting because of a merger, a management change, a market shift, or simply because it’s become obvious that the current culture isn’t serving the organization or its customer base, ensure that you don’t malign the previous culture, mission, or corporate atmosphere. Imagine being in a job interview and you consciously show disrespect for your previous employer. No matter what, it will create an integrity issue. Instead, concentrate on moving forward.
Don’t waste the urgency for change. Many new executives come on board in the middle of a crisis. This has happened with Chrysler, Ford, Pepsi, and countless other companies. Leverage the current crisis to gain energy for the cultural change you are fostering.
Don’t disregard current employees. Changes may have to be made in the process of major organizational cultural changes. Still, tread carefully with the current employee base. Morale will plummet if you disregard all current voices in lieu of new, unknown leaders.
Don’t be afraid to take the lead. Shaping and changing your culture has to come from the top. Yes, it will require adoption from every employee, but that can only come from a united leadership team leading those changes. Don’t get distracted by early gains. Initial changes are usually painless and fairly easy to make. Don’t make the mistake of celebrating these too early or too much. You’re probably on the right path. It’s better to acknowledge early gains and keep moving forward.
In the words of Steve Pemberton, chief diversity officer of Walgreen Co., “Make certain you don’t confuse that initial aesthetic pull of the culture change with the actual work of instilling and driving culture,” he said. “Because invariably [that] is what you’re going to be measured on.”
Don’t neglect to explain the changes. Leaders adopting and advocating for change isn’t enough. As we all know, people need to hang their hat on the meaning behind and reasons for change. Help them reframe the changes -especially the extreme shifts that might be coming up- by backing up your efforts with market reasons, giving the changes a direct relationship to the business success, or fulfilling the organization’s mission.
Don’t dump culture change on HR! CEOs tend to give marching orders and then dump cultural and organizational change on the HR or communications groups. Instead, take tangible actions right from the start and keep the momentum going. Instead, set out core values, define any aspirational elements and then develop a plan to move forward. What behaviors does the company expect from its leaders? Why are these behaviors important? What actions or events have to happen for those behaviors to be altered long-term? It’s not enough to put posters on the wall with core values and a mission statement. Learn how to help your employees sincerely align with the organizational culture.
Don’t forget to vary methods of recognition. Financial recognition can only take you so far. Focus on creating an organization that integrates a variety of recognition methods, both small and publicly impactful. Everything from personal emails to public awards are fair game and have proven to be effective.
Words of Wisdom
“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.” – Frances Hesselbein
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 www.employeedevelopmentsystems.com
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