Changing your organizational culture is the toughest task you will ever take on. Your organizational culture was formed over years of interaction between the participants in the organization. Changing the accepted organizational culture can feel like rolling rocks uphill.
Organizational cultures form for a reason. Perhaps the current culture matches the style and comfort zone of the company founder. Culture frequently echoes the prevailing management style. Since managers tend to hire people just like themselves, the established organizational culture is reinforced by new hires.
Organizational culture grows over time. People are comfortable with the current culture. For people to consider culture change, usually a significant event must occur. An event that rocks their world such as flirting with bankruptcy, a significant loss of sales and customers, or losing a million dollars, might get peoples' attention.
Even then, to recognize that the organizational culture is the culprit and to take steps to change it, is a tough journey. In no way do I mean to trivialize the difficulty of the experience of organizational culture change by summarizing it in this article, but here are my best ideas about culture change that can help your organization grow and transform.
When people in an organization realize and recognize that their current culture needs to transform to support the organization's success and progress, change can occur. But change is not pretty and change is not easy.
The good news? Organizational culture change is possible. It requires understanding, commitment, and tools.
Steps in Organizational Culture Change
There are three major steps involved in changing an organization's culture.
- My earlier article discusses How to Understand Your Current Culture. Before an organization can change its culture, it must first understand the current culture, or the way things are now. Do take the time to pursue the activities in this article before moving on to the next steps.
- 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?
- 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.
Plan the Desired Organizational Culture
The organization must plan where it wants to go before trying to make any changes in the organizational culture. With a clear picture of where the organization is currently, the organization can plan where it wants to be next.
Mission, vision, and values: to provide a framework for the assessment and evaluation of the current organizational culture, your organization needs to develop a picture of its desired future. What does the organization want to create for the future? Mission, vision, and values should be examined for both the strategic and the value based components of the organization. Your management team needs to answer questions such as:
- What are the five 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? If they are so important, why are you not attaining these values?
Take a look at the rest of the actions you need to take to change your organizational culture.