How to Change Organizational Culture in 2023
Your organizational culture encompasses core values, beliefs, processes, customs, and practices. Combined, they manifest as a shared attitude and behavior unique to your organization.
Yet, your company culture is bound to change for one or more reasons. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all method to achieve a successful organizational transformation. This is because each strategy is unique to the company’s needs and presents new challenges.
Sometimes, plans on how to change organizational culture are conceptualized years before the actual implementation. Other times, circumstances force amendments to be adapted quickly.
Keep reading to learn how to change your organization’s culture for the better.
Table of Contents
Why is there a need for organizational culture change?
The goal of any cultural change is to improve the business in one facet or another. Here are a few factors your company may be experiencing that could potentially drive you toward change.
A common reason for organizational change is low performance. Therefore, implementing a management strategy that gives management tools to improve employee performance is a must to stay in the competition.
Changes can also be a response to your company’s high performance and growth. Hence, taking measures to secure your place in the market is necessary.
Market conditions and the global economy
The global rise in commodity prices, health crises, and other minor to large-scale problems require organizations to act. Therefore, new strategies are employed to keep up with consumer demand shifts.
Mergers and acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions can also drive change. Blending, as well as adapting cultures, can disrupt the workforce and the systems in place. During the integration process, individuals may feel uncertain about the future. This may prove crucial to employee retention.
When new leaders step in, they often have a different vision for the company. Along with this comes restructuring and changes in key performance indicators. Consequently, the appropriate strategies are then made to achieve this new vision.
Adopting new technology, like automation, can cause reorganizations. This can also bring about changes in product quality, quantity, processes, and strategies. As such, the workforce needs to adapt to the new set-up.
The onboarding process usually takes in individuals who match the company culture. However, the tolerances and acceptance criteria of candidates can get altered.
In response, internal changes are carried out, and soon after that, the organization’s culture tends to reflect the contribution of these new hires.
How to change the culture of an organization
The involvement of the entire organization is key to a successful organizational culture change. Gone are the days when change management strategies were enforced through a top-down approach. According to Gartner, the success rate of using this approach is only 34%.
Now, organizations are looking into a human-centric approach when implementing any changes. Through this approach, you bank on keeping your employees engaged and committed, which can boost your organization’s success rate to 58%.
1. Set a vision
Visualize where you want the organization to be and what values and behaviors will get you there. Then, follow through with understanding the existing company culture.
For example, are the company’s mission statement and core values in alignment with this vision? If not, then it’s time to get these revamped too.
2. Organize a team of facilitators
To put things in motion, you have to assemble a team that will serve as facilitators. This group should be well-represented by the top management, a variety of different departments, and front-liners.
The facilitators play a critical role in promoting change. They should emulate the desired culture and be able to listen to feedback and suggestions.
3. Set a timeline and budget
Changes can be incremental, transitional, and large-scale. Every kind requires a realistic timeline to carry out.
Give enough time for data gathering, sourcing of feedback, and suggestions because we all know that analyzing data can be tedious. Yet, it’s an essential part of the process and will help you develop effective measures.
Moreover, a budget should be in place to fund activities, resources, equipment, and tools. This type of structure will provide the necessary support for implementing any essential change.
4. Use digital platforms and tools
Workplace settings have evolved over the years. For one, the use of digital channels and tools is becoming more and more popular.
They provide alternatives to physical meetings, quick communications, and information dissemination. Plus, they allow for a smoother documentation process, data gathering, and much more.
You can employ this in your change management strategy. Look for a dedicated digital channel to promote dialogue, share feedback, and communicate updates across the organization. This will also open up lines for shorter response times and decision-making.
5. Display leadership
Leaders play a significant role when it comes to changing your company’s organizational culture. More than announcing a few declaratives, a leader should be able to impact, not impose, change within the organization.
A wise leader knows that employees bring key differences. That’s why, as a leader, you must invest in employee training.
Employees are also on the lookout for training by modeling. How leaders react in critical incidents, hire, promote, and excommunicate affects an individual’s perception of the culture.
Additionally, showing support for tangible and social rewards is a way to encourage participation in the change initiative.
6. Engage the entire workforce in every step
Culture is a shared phenomenon. So, the best way to approach implementation is by involving everyone in the organization from the start.
This includes diagnosing, interpreting, and implementing the solutions to the challenges facing the company.
Harness the collective intelligence of the group from the conception to the fulfillment of the undertaking.
One great way to do this is through employee surveys. Use an employee survey similar to the Survey of Organizations to get feedback on what employees feel are the major issues that need to be resolved.
7. Effective Diagnosis
When leadership (aka ‘change agents’) feels there is a need for change due to identifying problem areas such as high turnover or low profits, employees (aka ‘change recipients’) need to embrace the change to have a higher chance of success.
If employees view the change as arbitrary, it’s going to be hard to sustain organizational change long term.
8. Creating a Plan
While reviewing your existing culture, pinpoint the elements in your organization helping you move towards your goal. Conversely, identify the bad practices and customs holding you back or leading you astray.
How can you do this? First, conduct dialogues and learn from your employees what values they connect with the most. Doing these activities can also give you an initial idea of how much resistance you’d be facing.
9. Implementing change
Though employees may participate in the conception of the change strategy, it’s a different challenge to keep them engaged.
So, how can you achieve your desired participation?
The first thing you can do is create a space where they can freely express their opinions. Facilitators should be able to actively listen. Then, address as many employee concerns as possible so they feel heard.
Also, organizational culture is deeply-rooted in every employee. Thus, you have to ensure that they’re committed to the change on a personal level.
To do this, create reward and recognition systems with clear guidelines and measures. These don’t always have to be tangible. Even a simple act of gratitude can go a long way.
10. Follow through
It’s essential to gain feedback from the employees during the stages of implementation. Then, using the gathered data, you can draw analysis and evaluation.
How far along are you from the goal? Have you reached milestones? What pitfalls have you encountered, and how did you address them?
Small wins matter and the setbacks make room for learning. Emphasize these points and give updates to the entire organization. This transparency will put everyone on the same page and highlight your continuous commitment to the change.
Why is organizational culture so difficult to change?
Culture is deeply ingrained in an organization. The values, beliefs, customs, practices, and processes are intertwined, making it difficult to bring about real transformations.
You have to break barriers in efforts to change corporate culture. Then, accompany that with continuous follow-through to make it stick.
Additionally, the human aspect proves to be great resistance to the implementation. Tenured workers tend to resist modifications as they have grown accustomed to how things are.
It can call into question the shared behavior, attitude, contributions, and even the general employee experience. Plus, each person has a learning curve. Some people may associate culture shifts with an impending failure or loss of power.
Therefore, it’s up to you to soothe their apprehensions. At the same time, find ways to highlight the more significant personal benefit of any potential organizational culture changes.
Why do organizational culture change initiatives fail?
Wanting to change your organizational culture is great, but successfully bringing about significant change and building the culture you want is no walk in the park.
In fact, it’s exceedingly rare. According to recent statistics from a global survey carried out by McKinsey, only one-third of efforts to change organizational culture were deemed successful by leadership.
Of the 3,199 executives surveyed, on average, they devoted roughly six months to planning the cultural transformation.
Apart from human resistance, there are several reasons for these failures, including:
- Poor communication. Individuals are more compelled when adjustments and their purpose are communicated clearly.
- Lack of collaboration. You’re likely to miss important points if there are misrepresentations, so try to be as inclusive as possible.
- Insufficient time. Forcing the organization to transform when it’s not yet ready will inevitably lead to failure.
- Insufficient budget. Invest in tools, equipment, staffing, and training to support cultural development. Hence, apportion an adequate budget to avoid ruining your efforts.
- Poor leadership and support. Leaders should emulate and visibly support the initiative.
- Organizational politics. The existence of a divisive power in change efforts can confuse employees and waver their commitment.
Examples of change in the organizational culture
Changing the culture of an organization takes time, money, and a lot of effort. It may seem like an impossible task, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run.
Get inspiration from these success stories.
1. Southwest Airlines
Southeast Airlines is admired for its unique organizational culture. The company operates by treating its employees as internal customers. As a result, they’re considered first in order of importance and satisfaction.
The company believes that when employees are happy, they provide better customer service. Consequently, customer satisfaction brings more profit and keeps shareholders happy as well.
This social networking site goes out of the conventional. It promotes a culture of fun and community-mindedness with its in-house yoga classes and rooftop meetings topped with loads of perks. All these encourage employees to turn in meaningful outputs.
This wholesale corporation puts a premium on compensation. They provide health benefits and offer lots of vacation time.
By applying this strategy, they help boost employee satisfaction, morale, and performance. In return, the company is rewarded with quality service and customer satisfaction.
This company established a great culture using a different perspective. They put more value on creating a positive and productive workplace, which is why they bring in people who share the same values.
Customer service comes only second, with utmost priority for its employees. Additionally, the organization embraces and celebrates the individuality and diversity of the group.
Here are questions to give you a new perspective on changing the culture within your organization.
Organizational culture is important for employee engagement and retention. In addition, the unique identity and brand attract suitable applicants for an effective onboarding process.
A strong culture is essential for maintaining a healthy work environment. This encourages productivity, consistency for top performers, and transformational power.
Any type of progress or change is driven by competition, consumer demands, and global market conditions. It can also be influenced by mergers and acquisitions, leadership turnovers, and reorganization.
Also, the rise of new technology and the need to utilize new equipment or systems require adjusting various practices.
Organizational culture can be changed, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a detailed human-centric approach.
Combine this with support from leadership through projects, rewards, and recognition programs, and you create a successful plan of action for following through with the needed adjustments.
Additionally, implementation needs a realistic timeline and an allocated budget. Emphasize the commitment to change through consistent sourcing of feedback and suggestions.
If you’re in a position of authority, it’s up to you to create an impact by modeling the change yourself. If not, try to find ways to influence people in your circle.
Propagate the positive values you see and try to overcome the negative aspects. You can also reach out to facilitators about your observations. By doing this, the organization can create measures that can significantly impact everyone involved.
All organizations have to start somewhere when it comes to figuring out how to change their organizational culture. Yet no matter the extent of the change, it requires a massive effort by everyone involved.
The best plan when learning how to change an organization’s culture starts by trimming the negative values of the existing culture. Then, create new core values, mission, and vision statements to live by.
After that, form a team of facilitators and top it off with leadership support. Soon, you’ll see the change you envisioned begin to take place.
Company Culture, Culture