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How to Change Your Culture: Organizational Culture Change

You Can Transform Your Culture With Conscious Steps

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See the first necessary components for organizational culture change. Next, you ask:

  • What needs to happen to create the culture desired by the organization? You cannot change the organizational culture without knowing where your organization wants to be or what elements of the current organizational culture need to change. What cultural elements support the success of your organization, or not? As an example, your team decides that you spend too much time agreeing with each other rather than challenging the forecasts and assumptions of fellow team members, that typically have been incorrect.

    In a second example, your key management team members, who must lead the company, spend most of their time team building with various members of the team on an individual basis, and to promote individual agendas, to the detriment of the cohesive functioning of the whole group. Third, your company employees appear to make a decision, but, in truth, are waiting for the "blessing" from the company owner or founder to actually move forward with the plan.

    In each of these situations, components of the organizational culture will keep your organization from moving forward with the success you deserve. You need to consciously identify the cultural impediments and decide to change them.

However, knowing what the desired organizational culture looks like is not enough. Organizations must create plans to ensure that the desired organizational culture becomes a reality.

Change the Organizational Culture

It is more difficult to change the culture of an existing organization than to create a culture in a brand new organization. When an organizational culture is already established, people must unlearn the old values, assumptions, and behaviors before they can learn the new ones.

The two most important elements for creating organizational cultural change are executive support and training.

  • Executive support: Executives in the organization must support the cultural change, and in ways beyond verbal support. They must show behavioral support for the cultural change. Executives must lead the change by changing their own behaviors. It is extremely important for executives to consistently support the change.


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  • Training: Culture change depends on behavior change. Members of the organization must clearly understand what is expected of them, and must know how to actually do the new behaviors, once they have been defined. Training can be very useful in both communicating expectations and teaching new behaviors.

Additional Ways to Change the Organizational Culture

Other components important in changing the culture of an organization are:

  • Create value and belief statements: use employee focus groups, by department, to put the mission, vision, and values into words that state their impact on each employee's job. For one job, the employee stated: "I live the value of quality patient care by listening attentively whenever a patient speaks." This exercise gives all employees a common understanding of the desired culture that actually reflects the actions they must commit to on their jobs.
  • Practice effective communication: keeping all employees informed about the organizational culture change process ensures commitment and success. Telling employees what is expected of them is critical for effective organizational culture change.
  • Review organizational structure: changing the physical structure of the company to align it with the desired organizational culture may be necessary. As an example, in a small company, four distinct business units competing for product, customers, and internal support resources, may not support the creation of an effective organizational culture. These units are unlikely to align to support the overall success of the business.
  • Redesign your approach to rewards and recognition: you will likely need to change the reward system to encourage the behaviors vital to the desired organizational culture.
  • Review all work systems such as employee promotions, pay practices, performance management, and employee selection to make sure they are aligned with the desired culture. As an example, you cannot just reward individual performance if the requirements of your organizational culture specify team work. An executive's total bonus cannot reward the accomplishment of his department's goals without recognizing the importance of him playing well with others on the executive team to accomplish your organizational goals.

You can change your organizational culture to support the accomplishment of your business goals. Changing the organizational culture requires time, commitment, planning and proper execution - but it can be done.

Take a look at the first steps you need to take to change your corporate culture.

More Information About Organizational Culture and Organizational Culture Change

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