Culture transformation is a long journey, but once the objectives of the transformation have been achieved, your organization has reached its destination. While you should celebrate this success, it’s important to look ahead and consider how you will maintain the impact of the culture transformation. As circumstances both within and outside the organization change continuously, it is leadership’s job to ensure that the culture that has been built stays strong.
Without active, visible support from leadership, an organization’s culture can begin to fragment and become less impactful. Employees can lose their sense of direction and clarity around the organization’s mission and values, or new employees may bring their habits from previous employers. As such, here are five things you will want to do to maintain the impact of a culture transformation.
1. Stay Accountable to the New Culture
After the culture transformation framework has been implemented, do not abandon the metrics you used to assess whether it was successful. You should continue reporting on them so that everyone in the organization knows how well the results of the change are being sustained.
Also, think about how you want your organization to be described by employees and customers. These words, which should also appear in your mission statement and values so that all employees are aware of them, should continue to define your culture on an ongoing basis. It may help to create visual reminders of the importance of the new culture. This could involve regular messages from the CEO or another senior leader, dashboards posted on the company’s intranet that show progress toward measurable goals, and memorable email communications.
2. Build and Maintain Conviction
In order to actively sustain culture change, employees’ must have conviction that the culture is affecting them as an individual, their team, and the overall organization for the better. This can be done by recognizing behavior that exemplifies the culture and linking it to the organization’s overall success, as well as reporting the organization’s positive impacts on customers, the local community, or society. Help employees continue to build desirable behaviors and skills by providing follow-up training after the change process is complete. Also, always ensure leadership’s behaviors, words, and actions remain consistent with the goals of the change.
3. Celebrate Success
Using the same metrics that determined the success of the culture transformation can continue to reveal related achievements after the change has been implemented. For example, if one of the desired outcomes was for the customer service team to reduce resolution times for customer-reported issues by 35 percent, and by the next quarter it has been improved by 45 percent, you’ll know you have a cause for celebration.
Whatever the approach, the power and necessity of celebrating success should not be ignored. It reinforces what’s important for the organization, reiterates management’s commitment to the changed corporate culture, and builds a winning spirit.
4. Ensure HR Practices Support the Culture
To support the culture transformation and ensure the changed culture takes root, it should be linked to performance management, recruiting, career planning, succession planning, and promotion. These are the responsibility of human resources, and as such, they need to be updated as needed to ensure the adoption of the new behaviors. For example, recruiting new employees may now require your HR team to look for individuals who demonstrate qualities and personal attributes that are aligned with the organization’s culture and mission, which may be different from what was previously considered during the hiring process.
5. Take Regular Pulse Checks
Regular pulse checks, along with continued measurement, will allow a decision to be made as to whether or not management is happy with the progress of the transformation, and the culture in general. This will allow the team to proactively identify if the organization is falling back into the old ways or if there are places they can provide additional training and support to ensure success.
You should also consider seeking out feedback from employees and customers. Doing so will provide you with an idea of how well the new culture is being maintained and benefiting the organization. You can collect this feedback using employee surveys, 360-degree performance reviews for the leadership team, and customer and employee focus groups.
An organizational culture transformation initiative is a major undertaking that can have monumental benefits for the organization. With that in mind, you must have a strategy to maintain the momentum and sustain the culture you’ve achieved. By maintaining accountability, ensuring that leaders model the behaviors that are consistent with the new culture, and celebrating and rewarding those behaviors at all levels, you will ensure that the culture transformation will be maintained long-term.