What is Culture Change and should I embrace it?

hand holding compass

The first thing to think about up front is that things, people and culture are always changing. It’s not something we should necessarily be thinking of as something new, scary or otherwise requiring of more effort and energy than you’ve already been applying – day in, day out.

Culture change in work is usually about deliberate attempts to “change the weather” or the environment that people are performing in by shifting expectations around values and behaviours in a way that are helpful in achieving the organisation’s goals – that thing you’re trying you’re trying to actually achieve as a business.

How to change culture in an organisation

This can involve changes in leadership styles, employee incentives, communication processes, and other components that shape the company’s overall identity and feel. Culture change is often driven by a change in the conditions. External or internal factors, such as market changes, mergers and acquisitions, or shifts in strategy.

Successfully navigating a shift in culture requires a clear vision. It requires strong leadership, people who care enough to demonstrate the behaviours needed to effect change and effective communication. Changing workplace culture can be a complex and challenging process but most things worth doing usually are. Positive benefits include…increased employee satisfaction, improved performance, a more adaptive and resilient organisation, better results!

Positive culture change at work can look like (and there’s likely to be a whole lot more examples):

  • Emphasising collaboration and teamwork – encouraging your people to work together towards common goals, nurturing a sense of shared purpose and improving communication and collaboration. Removing self-created silo’s.

  • Promoting better energy balance which can increase job satisfaction, reduce the feeling of stress and burnout.

  • Encouraging things that increase control and confidence – encouraging your people to take the initiative and make decisions, promoting forgiveness and not permission.

  • Investing in development – providing opportunities for training, coaching, and professional development, which enhance skills, increase job satisfaction, and drive performance.

  • Encouraging trust – an open and transparent workplace culture, where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, and where feedback is valued and acted upon.

  • Recognising and rewarding achievement – celebrating successes, both individual and collective. Too often we see failure getting a steward’s enquiry, we’d recommend really understanding your wins – that’s the thing you want to repeat.

Effective culture change steps for high team performance

These are just a few examples of how positive culture change can be achieved at work. Encouraging culture change in a team is challenging, but it is possible with the right approach – we’re all part of that culture every day. Here are some steps that you can take to “change the weather” in your team or business.

  • As a leader, your actions have a significant impact on the team culture. Model the behaviour that you would like to see – simple.
  • Clearly communicate the vision and goals for the culture change – make sure everyone understands the reasons for the change, what is expected of them, and how the new workplace culture will benefit everyone.
  • Encourage open and honest communication, where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.
  • Encourage collaboration and teamwork – promote a sense of shared purpose, and encourage team members to work together towards common goals.
  • Provide opportunities for employee development – invest in training, coaching, and professional development opportunities, to help people grow
  • Reward and recognise achievement – celebrate successes, both individual and collective, and recognise the contributions of team members.
  • Continuously assess and improve – regularly assess the effectiveness of your culture change efforts and make adjustments as necessary, to ensure that the desired culture is being nurtured. What are the things that tell you you’re winning?

It is important to remember that culture change is always happening and that ultimately organisations get the culture they deserve.

If you’re doing things to actively “change the weather”, that stuff takes time and requires commitment from all team members. Everyone has a role – there can’t be any innocent bystanders.

By leading the change and providing support and guidance – everyday – you can make the change you want to see, happen.

You will. Be Ready.