As an organization encounters market changes and shifting customer demands, or as it undergoes a merger or acquisition, it may become clear there is a need to transform the culture in order to compete and grow. However, achieving a lasting culture transformation can be a challenge for any company. Research conducted by PWC found that only 54 percent of company leaders believe that culture change initiatives in their company were adopted and sustained. There are many elements of culture transformation, but you can improve your chances of success by following a clear strategy that enables sustainable employee behavior change. When kicking off a culture transformation initiative, consider starting with these five steps.
Gain Organizational Perspective
Any attempt to change organizational culture requires that you understand the realities of the business as well as the opportunities and obstacles to change. Without a complete understanding of the starting point, any change efforts will be at risk of failing from the start. To gain organizational perspective, it’s necessary to conduct a thorough discovery process that gathers insights from a range of individuals in the company. Get their views on the need for change and what’s required to achieve success. The results of the discovery will not only help to define your current culture but will also help in the identification of which processes and tools will be necessary to achieve employee behavior change in order to set the proper framework for your culture transformation.
Diagnose Opportunities for Improvement
When considering organizational culture change, it might be tempting to try to orchestrate a major overhaul of whole chunks of the business. Instead, it’s better to diagnose key areas that need to be addressed and prioritize those that are most urgent. A good way to diagnose the most pressing areas for improvement is to ask, “What happens if I don’t do anything in this area?” Often, the answer to this question will help to identify high-priority areas and those that are less urgent.
Pinpoint Where Training Is Needed
Because people are at the heart of every organization, any culture change effort will require a shift in individual mindset and behaviors. Therefore, a good next step is to determine what kind of training is necessary to support culture change. One training method that works particularly well with helping to achieve real behavior change is experiential learning. The interactive nature of experiential learning combines a hands-on training activity with a targeted debrief that links the lessons of the experience back to the realities of the workplace. The immersive learning experience is incredibly real for participants and builds their conviction to behave differently when they return to work.
In order to fully grasp the progress you’re making, it’s necessary to measure those aspects of company culture that you originally set as key priorities for change. Metrics not only tell you how you’re doing, but they also shed light on areas that require further change and keep the organization on the chosen path. Some examples of tools that can help to measure the success of your culture change efforts include:
- Pulse checks and surveys that measure employee views about culture change over time
- Knowledge testing and assessments that gauge employee learning
- A Culture Impact Scorecard that displays all phases of a culture change initiative on an interactive dashboard
For culture transformation to be successful, you’ll need to take specific actions to ensure that the impact of culture change is sustained over time. A robust sustainability plan reinforces the effort and results of your change initiative and positions the organization for continued progress. Elements of the sustainability plan might include celebrating milestones as the culture changes or providing leadership reinforcement to support ongoing employee coaching.
Embarking on a culture transformation isn’t a quick fix, but rather a long-term journey. Successful culture change requires a thorough discovery process and a plan for sustaining the results you achieve. By following these five key steps, you can ensure each individual within the organization has the tools and support they need to embrace and contribute to organizational culture change.