Corporate Culture: Pressing The Reset Button
It is well accepted among organizational theorists that companies with strong cultures outperform those without such ingredients. Organizational culture usually starts with the style of leadership adopted from founders or senior executives of the organization. Clearly, culture is a critical component to the organization that, if not properly understood, can dramatically impact the success of the business.
Culture is impacted by many factors. Sometimes corporate culture is nurtured by involved and caring management where it flourishes and sustains, while other times the culture gets dinged and damaged to the point of being unrepairable. Among the many not-so-positive factors that can harm the culture are: major restructurings, mergers and acquisitions and changes in leadership at the corporate level. What do you do when your organization’s culture has been pummeled and is no longer reflective of the workplace that once was?
Hitting The Reset Button
Rebuilding a broken culture requires a change management initiative. It can take a long time and requires patience on the part of management. Starting down the path to rebuild a positive culture is the first correct step to take, but there many more steps to follow if the goal is to be realized. A plan must be laid out to engage employees in the change.
- Establishing bi-directional communication to address the culture (openly discussing what’s working / what’s not)
- Reaching agreement on organizational core values,
- Setting the vision for the culture that aligns to those core values
- Throughout each of the points above, the most important factor is engaging employees in making the change
The foundation of the plan must start with the implementation of a communications campaign designed to motivate employees and unite them toward a common goal. In many cases, when management seeks to mend a broken culture, it is necessary to address the many points of anger and hostility can be blocking progress towards improvement. Communication is key here, as these issues must be diffused before positive rebuilding can take hold. At a minimum, the campaign should include the following:
- Listening to complaints, feedback and suggestions
- Discussing and re-presenting what had been heard
- Discussing and presenting what changes will be made as a result of the input
Agreeing On Core Values
Management and the workforce must be on the same page when it comes to the core values of the organization. Core values are broadly shared values of the company that are evidenced in the corporate culture and the general work ethic of the employees. Some refer to core values as a shared “value system”, meaning a group shares a common set of cultural and moral beliefs. Strong core values benefit the culture as a foundation to anchor it and would generally be classified as an accelerator towards goal achievement in changing and improving the culture.
Aligning Culture and Core Values
Ultimately, the goal of the cultural reset is to grow a strong and positive culture that is well-aligned with the organization’s core values. There are many variations of corporate cultures, but for the of this discussion, we will generalize them into one of four models:
Cooperative: The organization or team focuses on the needs of the customer and the delivery, resulting in customization and tailoring to customer needs.
Merit Focused: The organization or team focuses on how it can organize and create predictability, reliability, low cost and structure.
Actualized: The organization or team focuses on fulfilling the human potential, helping create better lives for its customers and offering self-actualization.
Creative: The organization or team focuses on creating superiority of product or service, uniqueness, one of a kind value-add service and product.
Each of these models easily relates back to a set of core values that can be understood, embraced and championed by all.