Organizational culture an important part of change management
All change in organizations is challenging, but perhaps the most daunting is changing culture. There are at least two reasons for this:
- Culture is a soft concept – If there’s no concrete way of defining or measuring culture, then how can you change it?
- Culture represents collective norms and behaviors – It’s hard enough to change one person’s behavior — how can you change the behavior of an entire organization?
But if managers want to build high-performing organizations, they need to address culture change.
Organizational culture grows over time
People are comfortable with the current organizational culture. For people to consider culture change, usually a significant event must occur. An event that rocks their world – such as burning platform. So before you you get buy-in, people need to feel the problem. People aren’t going to consider anything until they are convinced there is a problem that truly needs to be addressed.
Even then, to recognize that the organizational culture is the culprit and to take steps to change it, is a tough journey. When people in an organization realize and recognize that their current organizational culture needs to transform to support the organization’s success and progress, change can occur.
Major steps involved in changing an organization’s culture
There are four major steps involved in changing an organization’s culture:
- Before an organization can change its culture, it must first understand the current culture, or the way things are now.
- Once you understand your current organizational culture, your organization must then decide where it wants to go, define its strategic direction, and decide what the organizational culture should look like to support success. What vision does the organization have for its future and how must the culture change to support the accomplishment of that vision? Your management team needs to answer questions such as:
- What are the most important values you would like to see represented in your organizational culture?
- Are these values compatible with your current organizational culture? Do they exist now? If not, why not?
- However, knowing what the desired organizational culture looks like is not enough. Organizations must create plans to ensure that the desired organizational culture becomes a reality.
- Finally, the individuals in the organization must decide to change their behavior to create the desired organizational culture. This is the hardest step in culture change
Important components in changing the culture of an organization
Other components important in changing the culture of an organization are:
- Create value and belief statements – use employee focus groups, by department, to put the mission, vision, and values into words that state their impact on each employee’s job
- Practice effective communication – keeping all employees informed about the organizational culture change process ensures commitment and success. Telling employees what is expected of them is critical for effective organizational culture change
- Review organizational structure – changing the physical structure of the company to align it with the desired organizational culture may be necessary
- Redesign your approach to rewards and recognition – you will likely need to change the reward system to encourage the behaviors vital to the desired organizational culture
- Review all work systems – employee promotions, pay practices, performance management and employee selection to make sure they are aligned with the desired culture
Changing the organizational culture requires time
Corporate culture is a hard thing to get right. It’s a moving target that means something different to everyone. It grows and evolves over time and is the result of action and reaction. It is the lingering effect of every interaction.
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Corporate culture an important part of change management — http://www.torbenrick.eu/t/r/dpb
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About The Author
Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom