A company’s culture can be either the strongest advantage or biggest disadvantage a company has in terms of differentiating itself from the competition. Trying to change that culture can be one of the most challenging tasks a leadership team will ever take on. Change may not be pretty or easy since it requires commitment, understanding and a lot of patience. There are a few steps that must be taken when shifting the culture of a company. First, you must understand your current culture, then, decide what areas of change are needed, and finally embrace change.
Understanding Current Culture
According to Forbes contributor, William Craig, “A company culture is something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them.” There is a common misconception that a company culture is associated with the perks of working for a company such as an open bar, working remotely, interactive office space, free meals or bonuses. While these perks may align with the culture of a company, these items do not define the culture. A company’s culture is reflective of the vision, beliefs and values of the organization previously determined by the founders of the company.
In order for leadership to make a change, understanding your current company culture is the first step. Assess the previously established visions, beliefs or values associated with your organization and determine if these aspects line up with the future visions you have for your organization.
Where Change Is Needed
Once you understand the current state of your company culture, leaders must decide what vision it has for the company’s future and how they, along with employees, can make that vision a reality. It could also prove helpful to involve employees in the culture changing decisions. One easy way to involve employees is to send out an employee engagement survey. Find out what will make your employees feel appreciated and satisfied in their current role. At times, changing something as simple as the office set up will help spur innovation.
For example, if you envision a company that promotes team work and collaboration, rearrange your office to promote interaction between employees. If the company and its employees agree being on the forefront of business trends and strategies is valuable, invest in providing training to promote continued education.
It will be up to employees at all levels to steer away from the previous culture they had become so accustomed to and ultimately embrace these new changes. This may be the most difficult aspect of a culture shift. Changing perspective can take some time but once employees realize the positive impact the change has made on the organization, the work place will become a more united place.
All employees determine the success of a company. When leaders emphasize the importance of culture it will help keep employees focused on long-term objectives and help develop a more cohesive workplace. Determining areas of cultural change needed and then embracing these changes will greatly influence future success of your organization.
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