“A company’s culture is often buried so deeply inside rituals, assumptions, attitudes, and values that it becomes transparent to an organization’s members only when, for some reason, it changes.”
Organizational culture is an interdependent set of goals, values, visions, processes, attitudes, assumptions, and roles. When a leader wishes to make a change to the organizational culture, this can be one of the most difficult undertakings. The interdependent facets of the culture serve to reinforce themselves and actively work to prevent change. Following are four common mistakes made when changing organizational culture.
- Relying on coercion – One of the most common mistakes leaders make when trying to change an organization’s culture is the use of coercion to garner buy-in and acceptance from their employees. You can’t force people to think or feel a certain way. Instead, you should foster the acceptance of the change by sharing your vision of the new organizational culture and inspiring them to accept it voluntarily. Allow them to envision what the future of the organization will be like once the new organizational culture is in place, and the benefits this new culture will bring for not only the organization but themselves as well!
- Failure to use management tools – For those who have inspired their employees to accept and support this organizational culture change, the second most common mistake is failure to put in place management tools that will help facilitate the cultural change. These management tools need to support the new goals, values, visions, processes, attitudes, assumptions, and roles of the new culture. From new role definitions to new measurement and control systems, without these tools in place, the changes made will likely be short-lived.
- Lack of communication – As with any change management strategy, communication is key, yet it is surprising lack of communication is still a common mistake. For changing organizational culture, this communication shouldn’t just be top-down communication. Instead, communication should be handled horizontally and with discussions rather than demands. Continue to share and discuss the new culture and the vision of this new culture, reinforcing its value to the entire organization and each individual.
- Starting too harshly – Although you may be eager to get the new organizational culture in place, don’t go at it like a bull in a China shop. Don’t immediately start by reorganizing the company. This will only serve to cause people to dig their heels in deeper and work against the cultural change you’re trying to implement. Also, bringing in a new team of executives right off the bat will sour people on the cultural change, as they feel their position within the organization and potential advancement are threatened. However, the one thing you DO want to do quickly is put in place the new systems and processes to support the new cultural vision. Don’t hesitate on that aspect, or you will see your unsupported cultural change falter!
About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert
CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.
Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.