As a consultant that works on business change projects, I am always surprised and challenged by how difficult it is to change an embedded culture, no matter how poorly it is serving the organisation. Diane Adams has provided an outstanding view of not only how to change a culture but also the various stages of developing and crafting a culture that will fortify an organisation against its future challenges.
In reading It Takes More Than Casual Fridays and Free Coffee: Building a Business Culture That Works for Everyone you will gain a valuable insight into the impact of culture, both good and bad, through an inspection of business leaders whose responses to their challenges reflects the culture of their organisations. A strong culture acts like a supporting framework for the organisation and can be helpful in both motivating and engaging the team and in providing a business advantage.
Developing a strong and positive culture, then, would seem to be a priority for organisations and yet there is often resistance to such development and change. Fortunately, Adams’ experiences and analysis has allowed her to develop a seven-point approach to developing and implementing a culture that builds cohesion and strength in organisations and that endures beyond the initial intervention.
Point 1 – Define your cultural values and behaviours – As these will become the motivating and driving force for the organisation, they are critical to how you operate and how the World sees your organisation. Consider what is important and how will you implement it.
Point 2 – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – Both to the people within the organisation but also to the community. “This is what we stand (and fall) for. This is what our values are and they are not negotiable.”
Point 3 – Integrate your Values into All Aspects of Your Company – Your actions define what you are and so they must be aligned with your values if you are going to demonstrate to both the organisation and the public that you are committed to them.
Point 4 – Drive the Culture Through Leadership – Culture comes from the top down. People look to their leaders for guidance and direction. So demonstrate and model the behaviours that you want your team to exhibit.
Point 5 – Show you Care – Engage with and invest in your team so that they are directly benefiting from the change in culture and seeing the positive impact of the changes.
Point 6 – Give Back and Make a Difference beyond the Workplace – Large organisations are integral to the community, local, regional or global. Your loyalty to the customers and community that buys from you is more likely to be returned when there is a downturn and you are looking for their support.
Point 7 – Make it Fun – Recognise, reward and celebrate the people in your team. Involve them in decisions and the future of the organisation. Involvement generates commitment and that ensures that people will support you when the times are hard. Challenges and losses are reduced and the victories are sweeter because you share them with your team.
Despite Adams’ proven approach to developing beneficial cultures, it is far from guaranteed to be successful. It requires commitment from the highest level of management, who live and model the culture no matter what, recognising that such changes require a long term commitment. Adams’ approach, however, is the most considered and potentially effective way I have seen to implement cultural change and I will be looking to employ these points during my next project. I will also be looking to encourage my own organisation (with its own casual Fridays and free coffee) to exploit these points while it undergoes its own structural change. For those looking to build a strong culture and improve business performance, this is an excellent insight into how to do it.
Lead to Serve