Leadership drives cultural change, and it can be the toughest challenge for any of us. Here are 8 practical takeaways for how to get started and keep the momentum going, where others lose focus and eventually abandon their cultural change efforts.
Critical DO’s for Cultural Change
1. Improve your development programs. Development programs are a pivotal way to make cultural change. It outwardly reflects the organization’s priorities, and as we all know, actions speak much louder than words. Carefully back up your short statement (from #2 above), by taking tangible action. Are your employee development programs focused on increasing overall personal effectiveness? How about professional presence? These kinds of core skills can be a great starting point for focusing employees in the face of organizational change.
2. Don’t be petty. If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to let go of policies that include docking people who come in a few minutes late from a lunch break, because they were helping a customer who needed them. Concentrate on results, not time schedules. This kind of thinking will gain loyalty and lose many wasted hours of complaint time at the water cooler. As a leader, you can help everyone concentrate on what’s important and leave the rest in the rear view mirror.
3. Short is good. Clarify your cultural decision in a very brief statement. How are you going to treat customers? How will the organization change communications? Make it explicit and simple. Then spread it around the organization.
4. Change the way you hire. How can you change your hiring decisions to reflect the new cultural values? Review the current priorities. How can the process be modified to ensure that you are hiring and onboarding people who will embrace the new culture that you are building?
5. What are your standards? Everything that reasonably can be expected to happen to customers needs its own standard. Every standard needs to include the reason for the standard, so that your employees know when it makes sense to deviate from it to accomplish.
6. Daily reinforcement is key. Spend time every day (or at least every week) keeping the new values at front of mind for everyone in the organization. Take the Ritz-Carlton as an example. They spend a few minutes every day discussing just one of the cultural values or service standards that the company follows. It’s not just a plaque on the way into the lobby.
7. Are you measuring the right things? Sometimes it’s easier to enlist a data point as a way to make decisions. Upon closer examination, you may find that it isn’t incentivizing the behavior you REALLY want to see in your employees. Should a call center measure success in number of calls made per day, or number of solutions and happy customers served? The former is the most common practice. The latter is much more effective. What can you change in your organization? At EDSI, we have a unique and practical curriculum to help increase communication for superior performance management. Learn more about what we do for other organizations and how we can help yours.
8. Wherever possible, let employees develop their own jobs. As much as you can, let your employees play an active part in their own responsibilities. As recently noted in an online Forbes article: “Let your employees know what they need to get done but not necessarily how they should go about designing their day and carrying out their duties. Because if employees are only doing things right because you spelled out every little thing out, even if you do so very, very elegantly, you haven’t created a culture, and you haven’t created an approach that is sustainable. A culture is a living thing, powered by and kept up to date by the people who are encouraged to be, in a meaningful way, part of it.”
We have covered some of the core DO’s for successful cultural change. In Part 2, we’ll cover the DON’Ts, which are equally as important.
At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 www.employeedevelopmentsystems.com