Culture can be the biggest advantage or disadvantage a company has when 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. Three steps have to be taken when shifting a company’s culture: understand your current culture; decide what areas of change are needed; and embrace those changes.
1. UNDERSTAND THE 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 there, 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, they do not define the culture. A company’s culture is reflective of the vision, beliefs and values of the organization that were determined by the founders of the company.
For leadership to make a change, understanding your current company culture is the first step. Assess the 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.
2. DECIDE WHAT CHANGES ARE NEEDED
Once you understand the current state of your company culture, you must decide what vision it has for the company’s future and how that vision can become a reality. Consider involving your employees in the culture changing decisions. One easy way is to send out an employee engagement survey. Discover what will make your employees feel appreciated and satisfied in their current roles. At times, changing something as simple as the office setup can help to encourage innovation.
For example, if you envision a company that promotes teamwork and collaboration, rearrange your office layout 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.
3. EMBRACE CHANGE
It will be up to employees at all levels to steer away from the existing culture and ultimately embrace change. This may be the most difficult aspect of a culture shift. Changing perspective can take time, but once employees realize the positive impact the change has made on the organization, the workplace can become a more united place.
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 to develop a more cohesive workplace. Determining areas of potential cultural change and embracing these changes will greatly influence future success of your organization.
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