The Importance of Corporate Culture
Change is hard. Very hard.
The topic of change will just not go away. It seems to be a major part of most of my discussions lately.
Many companies say they want to change and, often, takes steps to implement change.
But, they overlook the fact that their culture is built for NOW, not the future. It feels like it is in a static state – not prepared to be adaptable to what is about to happen.
In fact, culture is the reason most companies struggle to implement lasting change.
I’ve worked with several organizations that had a culture that was totally resistant to the changes needed to guide the company into the future.
They liked doing the work the way they always had done it.
Their people didn't like the idea of being uncomfortable with changes.
They would be asked to do things differently. Faster. More creatively. More diligently.
Their processes would be tested and, in some cases, abandoned altogether.
They do not push or encourage their people to learn new ways to doing things, or to see problems differently.
There is a lack of understanding that true growth happens when people are challenged.
That begs the question – What is culture and how do I change it?
First, it is NOT the words on your wall that say what you believe. Those matter but only if you deliver on those beliefs.
Otherwise, they are hurting you and your culture.
Culture is alive. It lives inside of the company and almost feels like it moves, positively or negatively with every key decision.
My belief is that culture is the result of all you do in your company.
It’s the way you treat people. It is the people on your team.
It's the way you communicate, inside and outside the organization.
It's your brand and how it makes people feel when they come into contact with it.
It's the way your technology helps or hurts your team’s efforts.
It’s the way you treat your supplier / partners.
It's the way your customers experience your products – whether or not you deliver on your promise.
It’s the way your field feels when you come into contact with them. Events, emails, webinars, etc.
It’s the way you provide ongoing personal development to your team – or not.
It's the way you incentivize and recognize your team.
It’s the belief your team has that you will deliver on your commitments – or not.
And much more…
If any one of these areas is not consistent with your culture, it will be stand out and cause conflict.
As the leader of your team, you set the pace and determine the culture you want. You create the vision.
Culture isn’t an accident. It is a result. And it can be designed and planned and executed.
If you study corporate cultures, you will find a wide array of cultures. Zappos, Apple, Southwest Airlines, The Container Store, Ford and many others are worth studying and learning how they designed and, more importantly, LIVE their culture every single day.
Once you decide what you want your culture to be, it’s time to change. It's time to live it. Set the vision. Then, drive every decision to deliver on it. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Some member of your will resist the changes and some will embrace them. Others will lead the changes.
If you acknowledge that change isn’t for everyone and that the culture you are working toward isn’t for everyone either, you will have an easier time with the difficult decisions.
As the leader – LEAD! Make the difficult decisions.
Be honest about your current state and don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to looking at your culture. Often, we have blinders on and cannot see the roadblocks in our way.
Then, you have a chance of making real, lasting change within your organization.