I wanted to talk to you today about Culture Change and how it could affect your company if you’re not getting it right.

As we all know culture change initiatives require a significant investment of time and perseverance plus lot of mutterings. I have put together 10 tips to help you clarify your thinking and hopefully make it a little easier to implement when the time comes.

One thing I will say, if you haven’t at least started to think about making the change you should start right after reading this as you’re already well behind the curve. Seriously your competitors are more than likely implementing a change as you read.

So, let’s get going, here are my 10 tips for changing the culture within your organisation:

1. Be clear about the change you want to see
What are the new behaviours you want to see, hear and experience? Too often I see organisations invest heavily in new processes, procedures or structures in the hope of changing their culture, without considering the precise behaviour they expect to see and therefore results it will achieve.

Top Tip: Clarify your measurable result by creating SMART goals.

2. Make sure you have leadership commitment
A management-led culture of ‘do as you’re told’ or even worse ‘do as I say, but not as I do’ will not get positive commitment from across the organisation, but you know this right? You’ll see shortcuts, cynicism and possibly resentment; certainly not buy-in. To create positive behaviour change, the leadership team must role model the new behaviour. When this filters down through the organisation, best practice becomes ‘the way we do things or a people-led culture.

Top Tip: Lead by example.

3. Get buy-in from all levels of the organisation
Increase staff engagement by asking for feedback and creating and nurturing a culture which aligns with peoples’ personal values. Your employees want to make a positive difference within the organisation, but to do so they must understand and support the bigger picture. They have to know what that big picture is.

Top Tip: Be as transparent as possible.

4. Improve communication
Help your staff and teams from across the organisation to understand the change initiative with clear and consistent communication, don’t hold anything back, create trust. Employees should be able to share best practice, but also have the skills and confidence to speak to colleagues and their boss when things aren’t going so well. If there is a culture of silence within your organisation, change initiatives are doomed from the start.

Top Tip: Get everyone talking so they know exactly what’s happening.

5. Look for positive individuals or teams
There may well be some individuals or teams within your organisation who already role model the behaviour you want to see. These are your intrapreneurs. Start by searching for settings or scenarios where the problem should occur but doesn’t. If you can identify the unique behaviour of this individual or team, it can be extremely helpful in discovering key sources of influence to help you solve the issues that you face.

Top Tip: Identify your people and the rest will follow.

6. Search for natural leaders across the organisation
Leaders are not always managers, top performers or even the more extrovert members of staff. If you can identify the natural leaders within your organisation and successfully gain their buy-in, you will be able to exert a great deal of influence on the behaviour of others, through social influence.

Top Tip: Don’t stifle you Natural Leaders, that will help you implement the new culture.

7. Hold people accountable
Accountability is critical to the success of your culture change initiative. When you witness an employee not meeting the new standard, describe the gap between the expectation and the observed behaviour, be clear but not overbearing. If you can achieve this without verbalising your potentially negative story for why this might be the case, you are far more likely to engage in an open and honest conversation. If not, you’re heading for confrontation.

Top Tip: Avoid confrontation at all costs.

8. Eliminate activities that deviate from the path to success
Once you have your SMART goals, understand and ready to communicate the change you want to see, look for existing systems, processes and procedures which deviate from this plan and that could have a negative impact on achieving your overall behaviour change goal and change them. this is a great place to start.

Top Tip: Have clear and measurable SMART objectives.

9. Track key measures
Right from the outset, identify a small number of measures against which you can track progress. Set markers along the change cycle to understand if performance is on target. Most importantly, make sure the measures you choose are directly linked to your overall goal.

Top Tip: You can only measure what you keep track of.

10. Be consistent
Change cycles take time. We believe it can take up to 2 years for a change initiative to be truly successful, organisation size will influence this too. Sadly, when organisations attempt to introduce change on a regular basis without considering these tips, they unwittingly create a culture of cynicism. Stick to your convictions and be consistent throughout the change cycle to maximise its impact and success.

Top Tip: Be ready for change and don’t fight against it.

I hope you have found these tips useful, and it goes without saying if you want to discuss culture change for your company in more detail, get in touch.

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