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2 Nov 2015

Changing Company Culture So It Works

Changing company culture is tough. It differs from building company culture too. Stopping a habit and starting a new one differs from just doing a habit more intensely or often. Organizational culture though is vital to change.

Common Mistakes

We make four common mistakes when changing company culture. We are:

  1. Too self-centered
  2. Too rational
  3. Too much
  4. Too complex

We cannot change things unless we change. We are too self-centered. We think we are the change. Others just need to do what we do. That might be. Still, they will not change unless we change how we work with them.

Visions, strategies and processes fail when they go up against culture. Thoughts and emotions are keys to interactions. Visions, strategies and processes address thoughts. Relying on them too much is too rational.

People are not light switches. When driving change, we need to think about intermediate states. We try to change too much.

We do not focus on three to five key attributes. We come up with a “21-point” picture as to what our culture should be. It is too complex.

Strategic Steps in Changing Company Culture

Changing company culture often means taking an intermediary step.

Trying to change too much is a common mistake when changing company cultures, so an intermediary step helps.

The steps in changing company culture follow a basic project management template for change. The focus though is on people:

  1. Look at current culture.
  2. Look at future culture.
  3. Figure change.
  4. Figure time frame.
  5. Figure intermediary phases as needed.

Frontline Actions

In large firms, internal communications department give frontline support to managers. In small firms, it is the human resources professional. My post on building company culture states the basic actions. There are two key additions. Some attributes might be:

  1. Aimed at stopping current ones
  2. Intermediary one

For instance, moving from a self-interested to a team culture might be too extreme. Emphasizing a cooperative culture will temper self-interest. It will also move it a step closer to a team one.

Do Not Neglect Emotions

Changing company cultures is about changing the personality of that culture. That means its emotional state.

There is no common definition as to what is organizational culture. Some define culture as the values and principles of the group. This makes it too easy to be too rational and complex when changing company culture.

We cannot neglect emotions. If we do, we fail. We must impact the emotional states of the people in the group. That will change thoughts. It will change behaviors. It will change culture.

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