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3 Key Steps to a Culture That Drives Success

May 18, 2015

By: Crystal Spraggins

The research is clear. Companies that manage their cultures are more profitable than those that don’t.

"Managing Cultural Change to Drive Productivity and Profit," a publication of the independent audit, tax, and advisory firm Grant Thornton, states: “Companies are beginning to realize the financial benefits of implementing a comprehensive cultural change management solution.” One company claimed an overall productivity increase of 28 percent.

In their 1992 book Corporate Culture and Performance, authors Kotter and Heskett present data proving that companies that managed their cultures enjoyed revenue growth of 682% over a 12-year period. Companies that didn’t could only boast a 166 percent increase over the same period.

All in all, then, it pays to take control of your culture. But how? Where should employers start?

Step #1: Identify the Behaviors, Processes, and Systems Targeted for Change

Organizational culture is comprised of behavior, processes, and systems. Creating a culture of success means targeting each of these areas and pinpointing what needs to change and why.

For example, it may be that employee behavior indicates an overall lack of urgency about completing work as quickly and economically as possible. Deadlines are ignored, inefficient processes are overlooked, and error-laden work is viewed as “no big deal” because “we can always fix something later.”

On the other hand, the issue could be more about processes and systems than behavior or attitudes. It may be that outdated, ill-conceived, or unnecessarily cumbersome processes and systems are regularly impeding productivity and causing your employees to become frustrated and disengaged.

For example, consider a hiring process that’s disjointed and/or driven by overwhelmed managers not good at interviewing and unskilled in talent assessment. These drawbacks add a layer of difficulty to an already difficult process and may result in increased turnover and organizational disruption.

Whatever the specifics of your company, it’s important to view the situation honestly. What isn’t working, why isn’t it working, and what needs to change for it to work?

Step #2: Get Help

Initiating a cultural shift is not for the faint of heart and should not be casually undertaken. It’s a serious commitment, and you’ll need serious help. Your company behaviors, processes, and systems are firmly entrenched, and loosing those binds is going to require perseverance, judicious application of influence, and skill that no one within your organization likely possesses. After all, if you could have done this alone, you probably would have. So don’t hesitate to engage the services of a competent organizational development expert to guide you through the shift. This individual can provide your team with much-needed insight and resources. 

Step #3: Get Buy In

Change won’t happen without buy in from your staff and senior leaders who’ll be responsible for supporting the change on a daily basis.

Whenever significant change is being proposed, it’s natural for some to immediately support it, others to take a more “wait and see approach,” and still others to immediately oppose it. As time progresses, many in the latter two categories will get on board. Of those who don’t, some will eventually self-select out of the organization. Others may have to be let go.

(Come to think of it, there’s actually a fourth step, and that would be to repeat Steps #1 through Step #3 as needed. People management is an ongoing process, and so is culture management.)

Profitable companies with engaged, productive workforces don’t happen by accident. Instead, the leaders of these organizations have made conscious, deliberate decisions about the behaviors, processes, and systems that will propel their companies to success, and they’ve taken pains to ensure their ideals have been faithfully implemented and enforced.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, smart leaders know it’s work that pays—again and again.

Need help training or hiring employees to fit with your corporate culture?

Call today to review your cultural preferences and discuss employee hiring and training options!  800.525.7117




Crystal Spraggins

Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at:

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