LEADERS ARE SUPPOSED TO LEAD.
By Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.
First, consider the top four reasons why culture change initiatives fail. Talk about these with both your leadership team and rank-and-file employees so you can work together to prevent a similar failure from happening within your company’s four walls.
LACK OF EXECUTIVE COMMITMENT
“You have to identify what culture truly means and then make sure that it happens,” says Matt Hawksley, a Regional Director for global logistics company, BDP International. “It’s a byproduct of leadership that should cascade down throughout the organization.
”It’s crucial to understand that the corporate DNA is comprised of a cross-section of departments, regions, and up-and-coming leaders that truly embody what you want the culture to be, he says. Ultimately, he emphasizes, it’s up to you, the leader. “Someone else is not going to do it for you. When it comes to culture and leadership, it has to start today, and it starts with you.”
I’d take this insight a step further. It not only has to start with you, it has to be sustained by you.
DON’T MAKE IT ONLY A HUMAN RESOURCES INITIATIVE
LACK OF MIDDLE MANAGEMENT BUY-IN
INSUFFICIENT ONGOING COMMUNICATION AND REINFORCEMENT
Jonathan Evans, of thyssenkrupp North America, emphasizes that transparency may be an overused word in communications, but that doesn’t detract from its significance. “Be open and honest. Walk the talk. And be accountable. In any organization, there’s always resistance to change. One of the key things we have to do is manage that change process, manage expectations about where we’re going and how we can get there.”
Communication is a constant and ongoing process, not something you do at a quarterly meeting. With regular communication, you have an intimate pulse of your team and the issues at hand. And that can mean casual conversation around the water cooler, says Dan Calista, founder and CEO of Vynamic. Formal communication has its place as well. Calista holds a virtual thirty-minute meeting with his team members every two weeks. It’s called TACT Time Tuesday, which stands for transparency, awareness, clarity and trust—all very important elements.
So, to recap, you can have the best intentions in the world, but for culture change to be successfully implemented you need to be aware of the pitfalls that can spell failure. There has to be a genuine, visible commitment from company leaders. Culture needs to be recognized as a company-wide function and not the responsibility of Human Resources. Note that middle management has a particularly strong role to play. And don’t think you can launch an initiative and that’s the end of it. Ongoing communication is a vital means of reinforcing the culture change.