During times of upheaval, organisational culture transformation is likely to be top of mind for every forward-thinking CEO.
After all, our established business cultures were shaped and honed based on a particular set of prevailing conditions, and recent events have changed all that.
The impact of COVID-19, subsequent global lockdown procedures and the impact this had on the economy isn’t something we can shrug off or sweep under the rug. It’s huge.
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To ensure the longevity of any enterprise under threat, you have to start by taking a good, hard look at the mechanics within. By now we all know that organisational culture is a very powerful business driver. When your corporate culture ticks all the right boxes, employee engagement and productivity tend to skyrocket.
On the other hand, when your culture is in shambles (or simply not the right fit for your working environment), trying to motivate your employees can feel a bit like driving a bakkie with the handbrake on, or cleaning a house with a hyper toddler running wild - slow, frustrating and somewhat pointless.
Here’s the thing - most business leaders don’t understand their own company cultures very well. In fact, according to a Global Human Capital Trends survey by Deloitte, only 28% of C-suite executives have a handle on the culture within their respective companies, and a mere 12% believe that the current culture they have is the most suitable one.
The survey was conducted among 7000 professionals in 130 countries, which points to the fact that organisational culture transformation is a global focus for companies that intend to thrive despite all the challenges the changing economy has been throwing our collective way of late.
So, where to start?
Here’s a handy roadmap, as plotted out by Tim Kuppler, the founder of CultureUniversity.com, and a supporting team of culture experts in their book Build the Culture Advantage, Deliver Sustainable Performance with Clarity and Speed:
1. Define your culture
Start by knowing where you’re starting from. Do so in three steps, namely:
Evaluate current performance and culture
- Plot out three crucial priorities in terms of performance. For instance: customer experience, operational efficiency and profit-building.
- Determine your top five strengths as a team.
- Determine between one and three weaknesses that you feel are holding your team back from achieving their potential with regard to the performance priorities you've plotted out.
Solidify your vision
- Zone in on one or two performance priorities you decided upon in the first step.
- Put into words how you can turn it into a cultural advantage by a) playing to your team's strengths and b) addressing some of its weaknesses.
- Work out a clear action plan for addressing weaknesses in practical terms.
Clarify next steps to boost behavioural change
- Clearly define the new behaviours you wish your team to adopt to address the weaknesses in your operational set-up.
- Recognise and reward team members for living these values.
2. Align your culture
Plot out your strategic priorities
- Map out three to five actionable strategic priorities that will serve to support the performance priorities that underpin your cultural vision.
- Ensure that these priorities are tied to a big picture and that internal communication speaks to the role of your employees in these efforts.
- Rope in your team to set SMART goals for each department. Using employee feedback, define the objectives that need to underpin your approach to each strategic goal.
- Define these goals clearly in a way that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
- Translate these goals into actionable measures for all levels of your enterprise.
Get specific about your KPIs
- Determine how you will measure overall progress with regard to your performance priorities.
- Take care to implement at least one uniform metric that will apply even if every single employee does not influence it in a personal capacity.
3. Manage your culture continuously
Keep track of goals and priorities in real-time
- Use the system your business has in place to track goals and priorities to focus on your cultural endeavours. If you don't have a system like this locked down, now is the time to do so.
- Do whatever needs to be done to help your employees to achieve their SMART goals - recognise and reward their efforts, coach, mentor, and remove barriers. In short, it's time to get in the trenches.
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Address established routines and communication patterns
- Communicate with your team in a genuine, transparent and consistent way when it comes to your cultural improvement journey. It's imperative that everyone feels included.
- Schedule regular check-in sessions (one on one, if you can; in group format if it's not feasible).
- Use the feedback you receive to fine tune your plans, answer any questions that may have arisen and squash any unwanted rumours that may have taken root.
- Channel your inner cheerleader to provide your team with ongoing recognition for their efforts to bring about organisational culture transformation.
- Be honest with yourself when certain plans don't work, and be ready to go back to the drawing board to reassess when necessary.
These guidelines will pave the way towards total organisational culture transformation. Go on - tap into the valuable resources you have at your disposal. Dial-up employee engagement by supercharging your culture and see what an immense difference it makes.
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