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Create a Better Corporate Culture In One Year

If you’ve taken a step back and looked closely at the workplace culture in your organization, you may not like what you see. Fortunately, you’ve taken the most crucial step by recognizing that changes are necessary.

You know that changing a workplace culture will not be easy and that some change will be difficult, slow and painful. That’s OK.

By taking a deliberate and strategic approach, in 12 months, you can turn that culture around. Here are six steps to transform the workplace into what you desire it to be, whether you’re a start up business or larger entity.

1. Understand the hurdles
As describes, in the book Blue Ocean Strategy, authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne lay out the four key hurdles that will need to be cleared in order to bring about change.

    • Cognitive. People need to understand why change is required.
    • Limited resources. There may be a reallocation of scarce resources from one area to another in order to actuate the needed changes.
    • Motivation. Employees need to want to make the changes.
    • Institutional politics. You and others need to understand the broader dynamics and personalities at play.

2. Small business management sets the table
Employees look for guidance on how to behave by observing the way the senior management team behaves. If they are not a cohesive unit with a strong team-focused dynamic, then it’s unlikely that their subordinates will follow the same behaviors. The senior leaders need to go first, acknowledge the need for change, and actually demonstrate the changed behaviors.

3. Start with the influencers
You’re not going to convert everyone in the organization. The best strategy is to approach the influence leaders who are likely to bring along other, more reluctant employees, through their relationships. Getting these influencers on board gives you additional respected voices when talking about needed changes.

4. Be honest
You need to start with the truth. Is the organization living up to its stated core values? If not, it’s time to call it out. Is there a culture of kingdom-building and siloed communication? Make it clear that will no longer be the case. It’s important to be clear with yourself and others about what you see and why it’s time to change.

5. Coach people in or out
There will be resistance. However, for those who do not agree with the vision you have or who resist your desire to change the culture, it very well may be time to find a different role either in a different part of the organization or elsewhere. An employee should be given the chance to come on board at his or her own pace but if the resistance is hurting the broader efforts, an exit strategy is necessary.

6. Look at physical space and policies
Are there areas in the workplace that foster communication and collaboration? Are conference rooms windowless and sterile, with no artwork or inspiration? Is there any reason not to have a casual Fridays policy or loosen the dress code? These may seem insignificant but can go a long way towards changing the culture.

The process of cultural change can be slow but when you arrive at the desired state, it is a significant accomplishment for you and the entire organization. Have patience and perseverance and you’ll get there.