Spoiler alert...organizational transformation is a major undertaking. Think of the last time you tried to change your own behavior or shift your own attitude about something, anything. It’s not easy to change the way you act or think. Now apply that challenge to an entire company. Successful organizational transformation requires changing the behavior and outlook of every individual in the company. Although that might seem like an insurmountable task, decades of doing it successfully have proven that it can be done.
Do a lot of companies fail when trying to shift the culture? Yes, but by committing to a few key concepts, your company can be one of the success stories.
1. Think Big, Act Small
You have a vision for the organization—this is the big picture, and it is an essential part of organizational transformation. There must be a shared vision that everybody can continually refer to when making decisions. However, it is the combination of every individual’s actions, decisions, and behavior that makes up the corporate culture. To achieve the larger vision, you have to start at the granular level. Every individual must have the necessary skills training and resources to meet the expectations set by leadership. This means that if you want to create a culture of customer centricity, everybody must know what this means and how to shift their thinking to always consider the customer’s perspective first. If you want to create a culture of accountability, you must ensure that everybody has access to the resources they need to get the job done right and share a collective understanding of what is meant by accountability.
2. Clearly and Concisely Define the Culture
You can’t expect people to behave a certain way if they are confused about the end goal. Once you have determined the type of culture you want, communicate it clearly and often. After the organizational transformation is complete, it will become intrinsic in the company culture. For example, Ace Hardware made the decision to be defined as “the helpful hardware store.” This short and sweet phrase encompasses a culture of customer centricity that permeates every level of the company. Think about a phrase or sentence that encapsulates the culture you want in your organization and prompt people to consistently refer to it as they make decisions throughout the day.
3. Lead by Example
A surefire way to fail with organizational transformation is to have a disconnect between leadership and the rest of the company. If you want to develop a culture of safety, and the production manager doesn’t wear the proper safety gear every time they enter the warehouse, they send a clear message that the rules don’t apply to them. This attitude can be disastrous when trying to develop a certain company culture. Organizational transformation starts at the top, and every leader must model the desired behaviors in order for the shift to trickle down.
Leading an organizational transformation can be both challenging and invigorating. When you hit stumbling blocks along the way, ask yourself why behaviors are not shifting. Do individuals have the necessary training? Do they know what is expected from them? Are leaders modeling the desired behavior or inadvertently sabotaging the initiative? Solve these types of problems as they arise and before you know it, individuals will be enthusiastically embracing the company culture.
As Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.