Organizational culture. There’s no question it’s a game changer in today’s fiercely competitive business climate, whether you’re talking employee recruitment and retention, customer satisfaction, bottom-line results, or any host of corporate success indicators.
According to a study by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, more than 90% of executive leaders indicated culture was important at their firms and confirmed they believe improving their firm’s corporate culture improves the value of the company.
Despite this high degree of conceptual understanding, the same leaders are often blamed for organizational culture failures due to lack of sustained buy-in. In fact, according to The Execu/Search Group’s 2017 Hiring Outlook, 42% of employees feel executive leadership does not contribute to a positive company culture.
So where’s the disconnect when it comes to actively enhancing your organization’s culture and ultimately making a worthy investment in its future?
For starters, leaders need resolute confidence in their ultimate decision to buy in to culture initiatives, and lack of clear direction inhibits their willingness to commit.
That’s where a formalized culture transformation model creates value, both for executive leaders and the HR professionals who are often tasked with leading the culture transformation charge through implementation.
Create a Culture Transformation Model That Positions You For Long-Term Success
Like any corporate initiative, a step-by-step guide creates a clearer sense of direction on what may feel like an uncertain path. Besides outlining a path to results, the following 4-step culture transformation model gives an organization the framework for designing and implementing an initiative people can buy into and rally behind (including the leadership team!).
- Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your current culture as well as what matters to your employees. They’re all motivated differently, so don’t just assume that everyone wants a culture that mirrors that of Google; instead, take the time to test new ideas through qualitative research techniques like surveys and focus groups. And consider hiring a third party, as maintaining objectivity at this stage can be difficult. Not letting your personal preferences or assumptions sway decisions is critical to success, and an outside perspective helps mitigate that risk.
- Develop a long-term strategic plan. Here’s where you take your findings, evaluate your long-term goal, and identify how you can get from current state to future state. Culture transformation isn’t a “one and done” initiative; it’s a large, often complicated, undertaking. Don’t hesitate to break it down into phases based on priority of identified needs. And don’t ever consider it “final”—culture changes along with your workforce and is extremely susceptible to external factors like the economy, so it's important to continually evaluate “what’s next?”
- Make the rollout memorable. The launch of your most significant changes should command attention, not get left in the clutter of an email box or, worse, fly completely under the radar. The most successful examples of culture transformation include a comprehensive brand campaign tied to the changes as well as exciting ways of unveiling the changes to your workforce. Be sure to arm your organizational leaders with talking points about why the changes are being made and the benefit to team members, as it’s an exciting time, but people will have questions and possibly concerns about some of the change.
- Facilitate ongoing evaluation and enhancement. Because culture transformation is never truly complete, continue analyzing and optimizing your strategy. Build in mechanisms for formally collecting feedback from team members, but also train leaders to watch for more subtle shifts in team member morale. Doing so will help you stay ahead of emerging trends. It’s important to monitor major metrics like retention, employee engagement and satisfaction, but also think outside the box and evaluate things like recruitment costs, usage of team member benefits like VTO or flexible work arrangements, and significant measures of company heath, including revenue growth and customer satisfaction.