So if you could do you just one thing to change your organization’s culture, what would you do? What is going to make the most difference? It is a great question. And a wonderful starting point to get your head around this thing called culture.
Organizations often get overwhelmed with the scale of cultural change needed; and sometimes it all just gets too hard. So they do nothing. Which is a great shame; because change is unlikely to happen without something different being done.
Culture is a series of incremental steps. Not one grand initiative. And many of those steps are simple. Many of those steps can be implemented right now without any fancy models or surveys or consultants. Many of those steps simply need time. And not very much time at that.
And why is all this important anyway? Well what if I told you that there was one thing you could do that would make a difference to your business and create better productivity, engagement, increase revenue, decrease disputes. You would do it, of course.
So, what’s the magic answer? The silver bullet?
I don’t know your organization, so I can’t tell you the one thing (or the series of one things) that is right for your organistion right here, right now. But I can tell you that there are things on this list that will make a difference, even a significant difference.
So, some simple steps to a different culture:
- Get up off your chair and go and talk to your staff. Ask them questions about what they do. Find about their lives. Thank them when they do a good job. Then do it again tomorrow, or next week, or whenever you can regularly commit to.
- Be clear on the organisation’s vision and purpose. Why do you exist? What’s your elevator speech? Does everyone know all of this? If not, why not?
- Make sure your employees know what is going on. What they are doing and why. How it links with the grand plan. How it links with the strategy and purpose.
- How do you want you, your team and your employees to behave? Does that line up with your values? Will it enable your strategy?
- How do your suppliers, customers and external stakeholders experience you? Don’t know? Ask them. Then see if their experience is likely to enable your business plan and strategy.
- Get up off your chair and take a walk around your organization. Even better, ask someone who doesn’t work there to walk around with you. What are the stated and unstated symbols are giving a message about the sort of place it is to work; and what’s important. So, like the business that prides itself on its value of equality but which has a separate executive dining area and under cover carparks. The business that prides itself on looking after its people, but whose lunchroom is used as a dumping ground for old equipment that no longer works. The business that prides itself on being open and honest but whose management team has closed blinds and closed doors. The business that says that health and safety is important, but whose last six safety committee meetings have been cancelled.
- Talk to your employees (I know, I know, a recurring theme). What is it like to work here? What’s great? What makes them come to work? And what could be better?
- Look again at your policies and procedures. What do they say about the culture? Again, if you are aiming for autonomy and innovation; do your systems, policies and procedures support that? For example, there’s a business where a CEO has to sign off ANY purchase for ANY amount, and yet the business talks of the freedom and accountability of managers.
- Make sure you know, and your managers know, how to give great timely feedback on any issue at any time.
And so the list goes on..
What’s that old saying? Keep doing what you’ve always done; keep getting what you have always got.
So go on, do something off the list. And then see – does it make a difference? What else could you do? And build your culture from there.
Please let me know – has there been one thing that made a difference to your business? What was it? Did it build momentum? And what did you do from there?