HR Management··7 min read

What is Culture Change and How Does it Work?

What is Culture Change and How Does it Work?

Organizations are always trying to be their best self. However, organizations face challenges with creating the optimal work environment for employees. Whether this means new incentive programs or a culture change in the workplace, many companies need help with making positive changes.

Today, we're going to show what culture change is, what it means for your organizational culture, and why you should care.

What is culture change in the workplace?

Culture change can be a powerful force within an organization, but it is essential to acknowledge that cultural change management is challenging and takes time.

Culture change involves getting individuals from all different levels of the organization on board with the new direction. It also requires them to alter some behaviors, so they align with the new organizational goals and purpose of why these goals are being implemented in the first place.

Without addressing these behavior modification issues appropriately, you will not have long-term success in your company's culture change program.

Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to the workplace. Whether you are transitioning from one company to another or looking for a change somewhere within your current company, there will always be movement. However, these changes don't start without someone to drive them towards fruition.

A Chief Culture Officer (CCO) and their role in organizational culture

A CCO picks up where other leaders leave as they push through new initiatives and strategies focused on culture change in the workplace.

They take the reins of cultural change by aligning employees with the organization's goals and cultural values while successfully introducing new ideas that can have a lasting impact.

To successfully oversee culture change in the workplace, the CCO acts as a leader, an organizer, and a counselor for a strong company culture.

Organizing change from the leadership team onwards

A CCO is responsible for organizing the company. They ensure that all new employees are properly onboarded and that current employees feel like they can contribute to the success of their team and organization.

By making sure meetings run on time, systems are up-to-date, and communication is efficient within an organization, this professional can take a closer look at how teams function both individually and collectively.

Things to consider for a culture change program:

  • How will managers be trained to address their teams?
  • What incentives do employees need to alter their behavior?
  • What is the desired end goal of this program, and how will we measure success?
  • Who will be the culture champion?
  • What is our current internal culture?

For this culture change program to work successfully, a strategic plan must include actions steps, milestones, and timelines. In addition, there needs to be a clear definition of company values that align with the new direction.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself

  • Are our leaders passionate enough about these changes? Do they believe it's necessary for our growth as an organization?
  • Will the company make a budget for this culture change program?
  • How long will the company commit to this plan?
  • Will employees be given adequate time to adjust?
  • What is our timeline for making improvements, and how will we measure the success of the changes made over time?
  • Are current members of our organization on board with these changes at all levels, or are they resistant because it goes against their values (i.e., do some people feel there is too much focus on individual gains vs. company gains)?
  • What is our ultimate goal? How will we know if we have a successful culture or not? Is it improving the employee experience, develop a culture committee, create a strong culture as a part of your employer brand or something else?

When implementing a culture change in the workplace, you must first identify the behaviors that need changing that align with your new goals, analyze why those behaviors are not working well currently, and train your employees to minimize future mistakes. It takes great efforts from many individuals to successfully execute a culture change program over a long period.

You need to figure out the behaviors that are not working and point them out to employees. For example, if your company feels too focused on individual gains vs. company gains, it would be valuable to have this conversation with team members.

Hence, they are aware of how their behavior can affect your success rate within the organization. You then want to analyze why these behaviors are lacking - what's stopping employees from being productive? Is it because members don't feel appreciated?

Or perhaps there isn't enough trust between team members or even supervisors in your management team...? Then you have to train your employees how to address these issues so they can adjust their behaviors accordingly. The end result could impact your entire workplace culture and improve your business strategy.

Leading organizational culture through influence

The CCO has a unique ability to bring people together by influencing change through shared value creation. This process often starts with listening – not just hearing what others have to say but also being open enough, so people feel comfortable sharing their ideas with you. The CCO needs to use this to understand the role of culture in the organization and identify who influences its health.

This way, they can drive better culture change initiatives and challenge the status quo in the leadership team. They can not only create a positive culture, but also an innovative culture that will break a change for your company.

To create a thriving culture change in the workplace, it is also essential to support critical leaders at all levels. Leaders must be passionate about this program and believe it will impact company success. If they are not fully committed to the changes, you risk employees losing faith in the program.

Another aspect essential for success during these types of programs is accountability - people need to own up to their mistakes, do what's necessary to fix them, and give 100% effort moving forward.

No one should fall into the "sunk cost" trap where people enter complacency because there was an investment made (i.e., money or time) into this culture change program already; everyone needs to approach each day with the mindset that this is a top priority and they want to do whatever it takes to make it work.

Counseling the organization

The CCO can provide support, feedback, and solutions that center on an individual's strengths and weaknesses and how they contribute (or don't) toward reaching overall organizational goals.

This also requires having a clear grasp of the organization's risks – both internal and external – while considering existing resources and priorities before recommending methods for improvement.

By taking these actions, especially during times of rapid change, the CCO helps create sustainable value for the company and its employees. They can create a dominant culture that inspires business leaders and helps on the path to your business goals.

Culture adaptive change in the workplace

If your company feels there is too much focus on individual gains vs. company gains, then you need to identify these behaviors and analyze why they aren't working well currently. Then you have to train people for them to minimize future mistakes in various business environments.

It also helps if all levels of leadership are supportive of the changes and willing to be accountable when something goes wrong during the culture change program. Also important are clearly defined values on how to change a culture in an organization, so employees know what's expected of them.

  • Identify behaviors that are not working properly so they can be fixed
  • Analyze why these behaviors are lacking
  • What's stopping employees from being productive?
  • Train employees on how to address these issues.
  • It is important to have the support of key leaders at all levels; they must be passionate about this program for it to succeed
  • Everyone needs to approach each day with an open mindset and 100% effort during the culture change program
  • Make sure you have clearly defined values, so everyone knows what's expected of them.

Corporate culture change management

Driving culture change in an organization can be challenging, which is why the role of a CCO requires more than just talent. The ability to manage this process comes with experience and knowledge of how to approach it.

A new CCO should seek mentorship from other professionals who have successfully overseen change within their organizations.

It's challenging to rely on company culture change examples because a company has its own specific culture. Every company has its unique needs and challenges; therefore, there is no ''one-size-fits-all'' approach to change management.

What works for one might not work for another, but having mentors ensures new CCOs will get off on the right foot when it comes to guiding employees through this process.

In summary

Culture change is a tough thing to implement in the workplace because it requires great effort from many individuals over a long period and can impact your entire business model.

You first need to identify behaviors in your current culture that are not working that align with your new goals, then analyze why those behaviors are lacking, and finally, train your employees so they can minimize future mistakes moving forward.

If your company feels there is too much focus on individual gains vs. company gains, then you need to have a conversation with team members so they are aware of how their behavior can affect your rate of success within the organization. It also helps if all levels of leadership are supportive as well as accountable for some mistakes that may happen during this time.

Finally, if your values aren't clear to employees, it will be difficult for them to adjust their behaviors accordingly.

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