Coaching Your Culture Change: Tricks to Make it Happen

Published Wednesday, November 10, 2010 2:28 PM

The recent election shook up the political landscape but many of the newly minted elected, who ran on campaign promises of bringing change to Washington, have their work cut out for them. Changing culture is no easy task, as many business leaders could tell their counterparts in government.

An organization's culture is formed over many years for a variety of reasons. Sometimes company culture is rooted in the style of the company founder. Other times culture is established by the prevailing management team. Since managers tend to hire people like themselves, organizational culture is reinforced by new hires.

Changing office culture is difficult to be sure, but not impossible. In How to Change Your Organization's Culture the "Wall Street Journal Guide to Management" states "changing an entrenched culture is the toughest task you will face. To do so, you must win the hearts and minds of the people you work with, and that takes both cunning and persuasion."

So how to begin? In their book "Blue Ocean Strategy,"  authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne suggest three initial strategies.

  • Start the change process with people who have disproportionate influence in the organization. If they can be brought along, others will follow.
  • Look for ways to get people to understand the glaring realities that make change necessary. For example have senior management field customer services calls or pull an "Undercover Boss" and have leadership spend some time in the trenches.
  • Look for ways to redistribute resources toward "hot spots" areas that require few resources but result in dramatic change rather than devoting resources trying to effect changes that aren't high visibility, high-impact.

Finally, consider evaluating your company's personnel structure. Too often only a small portion of workers' creative capabilities are tapped. Spend time identifying employees' strengths and create task forces with a tailored mix of talents and experience levels. And start to watch the needle the move.

Does your organization have a particular office culture? Share your thoughts here and at the Beyond Folders Facebook page.

by Bradley Eggers


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# arctific said on Monday, November 22, 2010 6:21 PM

The most realistic book on this subject I have ever read is called "Confidence, How winning streaks begin and end."  by R. M. Kantar.

In it, we find that corporate culture is also an adaptation to the trend of Loss, Winning or transition.  It interacts with a corporation at three levels, Owner/Investor, Executive/Leadership and Staff.  Each may have separate break downs in Creativity, Opportunity and Initiative.  Each layer of Ownership, Executive and Staff influence each other and may completely defeat the bright initiative of any single all-star.

Thus, the strategy to do nothing alone, but network widely with leadership buy in is vital.  Or, the force of the status quo will take out a corporate culture change.  Remember, the mess exists because their are forces that benefit from the present state.  They will sense a loss of control when change occurs.

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