A company’s culture is its personality. It determines how people contribute to teamwork, problem solving, innovation, customer service, productivity and quality. It makes work safe or not safe for a person to raise issues and solve problems or to move in a new direction. A company’s culture is often the cause for people related problems.
Culture is the real bottom line. A company with a well developed culture, open to all that its members want to bring easily outperforms competitors. People might say a culture is “friendly or tough, driven or aggressive, active or analytic or open.”
A company is a culture.
Leaders get culture they ask for. If a leader wants people to be engaged, engage them. Want involvement, involve them. Want good communications, and relationships, communicate and establish good relationships.
A well developed culture is highly profitable. Leaders directly change their workplace culture by changing how they do what they do. Everybody will see the change, like it and respond. When you create a workplace where employees can better meet their desires around their work and their personal life, high performance follows. That’s why culture is the real bottom line.
5 LEVELS OF CULTURE
1. Equipment and Physical Objects: tools, structures, products, art all cherished and loved objects important to do a job well done.
2. Systems: processes, procedures and methods
In most companies there is plenty of room for process and systems improvements. Systems are well known to each closest, and this level is a golden opportunity for involvement. This is a good place to start to begin the company culture development process by involving employees in improving their systems.
3. Authority Structure that Connects People: Productivity and profits.
Key aspect here is power and control. The crude form is dominance and submission. Often emotional and difficult to discuss. Work on system issues and discover that problems around power and control will gradually diminish.
4. Communication To Connect People
Listening, understanding, dialogue, relationships and teamwork. Also includes empathy and win-win consensus. This is where leaders have the most potential leverage. Improving communications has a powerful effect on the culture.
5. Experience Creating Motivation and Trust
The quality of human experience. What we cherish in life, and feelings such as trust, caring, safety, satisfaction, pride and engagement. Also includes the spiritual side. Leaders cannot directly affect another’s experience, but you can affect another person by actions at the other four levels.
Academic fields are analytic and experience is synthetic or personal that comes with time.
FORMAL CULTURAL CHANGE PROCESS
Formal actions to quickly develop company culture.
1. Involve and empower the leadership team
a. identify formal values
b. list the opportunities to strengthen values
c. act on values and opportunity
2. Conduct Cultural Interviews
3. Involve the next level of management
4. Organize problem solving groups
Involve the leadership team
Cultural change must begin at the top
Meetings could include discussion on:
a. employees communications and relationships
b. their leadership of the company’s culture
c. Planning and managing the human side of the workplace, the cultural change process.
CULTURAL LEADERSHIP MEETINGS
Focus on the top half of the culture, the Human Half, not the bottom, operations half.
After 3-4 meetings interpersonal issues are raised and resolved
Draw out each person’s desires of a better workplace
FOCUS YOURSELF ON THE PROCESS
I’d like to hear your thoughts, how it is for you here and what you like. If you have ideas you would like me to consider, I’m interested in knowing how we can improve. If you’ve had good experiences elsewhere, I’d like to hear about those also.
The Leaders Role
Help the employees feel comfortable discussing their relationships, the work experiences and themselves as a team.
“What kind of workplace would you like to have?”
More trust? Openness?
Stronger teamwork and cooperation?
Better communication levels?
People speaking up and participating more?
People taking responsibility for solving their own problems?
Improved productivity and customer service?
Less interference and directives from above?
Ask each person to write down their answers to, “what kind of a workplace would you like to have? What qualities, values and behavior would you like to see more of? Less of?
Take one item from each person and post on the wall…title the list VALUES WE WANT TO SUPPORT AT (COMPANY NAME)
List the opportunities to strengthen the values
Discuss actions they can take to strengthen the values (process)
More planning without action won’t advance the cultural change process.
(need to ask yourself, “do I want change?” What changes do I want? Need?
If one item on the list is “better communications between departments, ask, “what do we do here or what is coming up in your area that by doing it a little bit differently we would improve communications between departments?
What is happening now that is good? What is happening that is lacking in positive outcomes?
Combine Cultural Values with Opportunities
Ask employees how they will connect values to actions.(process)
GET THE PEOPLE MORE INVOLVED
Have people volunteer to apply new ideas. Invite them to apply the ideas.
“Next time we get together, let’s hear what you did and what happened. Remember we are trying to learn about the culture and what happens when we take action for change.
Trial change through new actions and new results. Does the outcome warrant a permanent change that translates to a new operating standard.(process)
“So What Happened?”
After a few weeks, ask the employees to describe what they did and what the experience was like. Involvement will vary. Be prepared to report on your work as the leader so they know you are serious about this but do not be confrontational, only resolute. Confrontation at this stage drives culture into the negative, as people will withdraw. You need to demonstrate your experience, as the leader advances the process, so will others.
How is your relationship with other departments?
3. Conduct Cultural Interviews
4. Involve the Next Level of Management…down one level below management. Owner…..Management….Employees
5. Organize Problem Solving Groups at the First Level(employees)
Jumps in company performance when this group becomes deeply involved. Empowered to act on what they know, when their creativity, responsibility and ideas are wanted, appreciated and most importantly acted on for positive change.(maximizing each persons talent and full capabilities)
Employees at all levels want to have a better workplace. Even if it’s not perfect, employees appreciate the effort and step forward to join in the new venture.