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The ever-rising buzz around organisational culture seems to be causing a bit of a stir, and many companies are now beginning to focus and reflect on their culture. As a result, we encounter the question of ‘how do you change company culture?’ more and more often. It’s a simple question, but needs to be handled with care.
Changing culture is easy, but changing it the right way requires a lot more. You can change your culture simply by removing (or implementing) all open offices and an orientation programme for the new employees. But if you want to become more open you just went in the wrong direction. In this article, we will focus on how you can change your company culture in a way that fits your strategy.
As with just about any changes in life, you don’t want to change things without a need or a goal. For example, you might pick up running in order to live a healthier life. Likewise, the changes in your organisational culture should originate from what it is that you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to become more innovative, sustainable or inclusive, and the goal should always come first.
Once you’ve set your goals, you still need to decide how they will fit your own unique circumstances. Becoming more innovative might have a nice ring to it, but how innovative is it that you want to be? Or how innovative can you afford to be? You need to define what kind of a culture would best work in your organisation, supporting your goals and your strategy.
Every organisation is different, so don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, compare your organisation to yourself: envision what your organisational culture would look like if it would do the perfect job at supporting your strategy.
Once you’ve set your goal and know what that would look like, you need to find out where you currently are. If we stick with the running example above, you can’t start doing more exercise if you don’t know how much exercise you’re currently doing. And you can’t make your culture more inclusive if you don’t know how inclusive you are right now.
Now you know where your culture currently is, and where you would like it to be, so it’s time to analyse where your culture supports the strategy and where it hinders it. While it’s entirely possible that you have a number of areas that you’d like to improve, trying to change too many things at once tends to result in confusion and lack of dedication. Therefore, we recommend prioritising the most crucial areas and focusing your change efforts to where it’s most needed.
When you know the areas in need of change, it’s time to create an action plan. Creating the action plan can feel overwhelming but with the right tools it’s a straightforward process. Our Organisational Culture Scan automatically creates a list of actions or processes that would bring your culture from where you are towards where you want to be going. This makes the process a simple matter of picking and choosing the changes that fit the needs of your organisation.
However, identifying the areas that need improving isn’t enough if you don’t implement concrete real life changes to create that change. We talk about two different types of change: indirect and direct change. Indirect change is created by taking action for a specific result. For example, eating healthier may inspire you to stick with your running plan or creating an open office space may push towards more open and approachable organisational culture.
You’d be surprised how often companies get to the stage of an action plan but then let it all fall through. Change is never easy, and if you don’t commit to it it can feel easier to simply let things run their course and hope you’ll get close enough to the desired outcome. This is why we recommend making people responsible for monitoring the change process. A great way to do this is to create what we call Culture Squads: a group of people specifically tasked to monitor the process and to make sure the plans are being followed.
If you want to see a real-life case of a company changing its culture around, Noor Bank is an excellent example. If you want to discuss how Hofstede Insights can help you align your strategy with your company culture, do not hesitate to contact us.