Recently, during our 2014 Reader Survey, we asked readers about their biggest challenges. One reader works for a nonprofit that serves children with multiple disabilities; predominantly autism.
She asked: “How can we change the culture of our organization?”
That’s a big question, and I’m hesitant to give an oversimplified answer without the benefit of the specific context of her organization, but here are six principles any company can trust.
1. Articulate your company culture. If I asked everyone related to your organization to describe the current company culture:
A) How consistent would their answers be?
B) Would they be consistent with your own description?
Don’t like the answers you receive to those questions? Don’t be discouraged. This is an opportunity! What are your goals and values? Once you know them, for heaven’s sake, SHARE THEM! Clearly define what you want the company culture to be. What’s your brand diamond? What makes the people in your organization get out of bed to come do what they do?
2. Determine systems, policies and procedures that reinforce answers to #1. Don’t be the company that just puts a mission statement on the wall then ignores or, worse, defies it. You will demonstrate your company culture to your customers – including your most important customers, your employees – by actually embodying the culture inside your organization through your actions. Systems, policies and procedures dictate those actions.
3. Plan to measure and reward company/employee excellence for those who rock numbers 1 and 2. What are the metrics of your success? Brainstorm ways to observe, evaluate, recognize, and celebrate.
4. Plan to lose those who don’t share your values. Some people liked it when little was expected. Some people won’t like your new, consciously-dictated culture. Some people are just unhappy. You will be better off without each other.
5. Replace them with those who do. Clearly outline the people you want to hire that embody the personality that blends well with you culture. When you construct your recruitment advertising, be very clear in your messaging about your company’s values.
6. Be patient. Be consistent. Don’t get twitchy. It will take time to make the manifestation of your values into habits. It will take time for your staff to turn over from those who don’t agree with your culture to those who do.
As Simon Sinek wrote in his book, Start With Why, “Gaining clarity of WHY, ironically, is not the hard part. It is the discipline to trust one’s gut, to stay true to one’s purpose, cause or beliefs.”
So, let me start by asking you, if you are in a position to sew the company’s culture blanket:
What is your purpose? What is your cause? What are your beliefs?
Start by knowing them. Grow by articulating them. Thrive by staying true to them.