Successfully Changing a Culture

Changing a culture doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to get everyone on board and moving in the same direction. Here are six critical areas that must be addressed in order to ensure a more successful implementation of a new culture into the DNA of your organization:

COMMUNICATION: The first step is letting everyone know why a new culture is needed. What is driving the change? Why is it important for each individual to take ownership of this change, in other words, the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). Communicating the vision for what the change will look like in the future is essential, so employees will want to buy-in. Communicate through every possible means and media. Allow for one-way and two-way communications.

COMMITMENT: In the beginning of the change, ask for everyone’s commitment. Ask for their voluntary participation and communicate enough  information to get them to want to become a part of the change. Do let everyone know though, that there will come a day when it will no longer be asked of them, but will become mandatory.

COMPETENCE: The change may require new skills and tools not known by the employees. Make sure you provide adequate training and time for employees to learn what they will need to know to be successful in the new culture. Encourage managers to coach and counsel employees as they are learning the new skills and tools. Make sure managers are educated and prepared to answer employee questions regarding the new culture.

CORRECTION: Obstacles will inevitably occur as the new culture rolls out. Some of the obstacles can be foreseen and addressed in advance, others will not. The key is to not give up when the going gets rough, but to analyze the obstacle and determine what can remove the obstacle and take corrective action.

CELEBRATION: Celebrate along the way to the new culture. Identify milestones that will communicate progress and take the time to pat everyone on the back and cheer for your small successes. This keeps everyone engaged and inspired to keep moving forward. Praise individuals that are exhibiting the accepted behaviors of the new culture to create role models for others. Praise work groups for their participation to reinforce teamwork and being a part of the family.

CONTINUANCE: There will never come a day when you can rest on your laurels and say that we now have this culture and can sit back and enjoy it. An organization must work continuously to reinforce its culture as new employees are hired, as technology transforms, as leadership changes, and as external forces cause alterations. Culture is a way of life. Culture is more important than anything else in your organization because IT IS your organization.

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