The Challenge of Changing Culture

people-culture-teams-agileA hot topic right now among businesses and organizations is the idea around culture development and the value of culture in the work place, environment, and employee morale.

There’s been a swing of the pendulum, perhaps, where we’re headed back to what made great companies great – incredible cultural dynamics and a rich history of employee satisfaction. Unfortunately we engage with far too many companies that say they have great culture but the employees, if you ask them honestly, will say that it’s really not true – or at least it’s not felt that way.

Most people, both individual contributors and management alike, agree that changing the culture is a “priority” for their organization because they fundamentally believe that a better culture will reveal increased productivity, increased morale, and higher value for the business and their customers.

The challenge is not that you have to sell someone on the value of a changing culture, that is, being closer to a more optimal and functional culture, but how they are actually going to get there. Improving processes, building systems, using newer (and newer) software can help a bit but it’s not a matter of tools or technology or even time: It’s about people.

The challenge of changing culture ultimately is tied to the people that run the business culture – and it’s not just those in the C-Suite, it’s everyone on staff.

By investing in the teams, understanding their own strengths, weaknesses, skills, and even unique interests and passions the culture will thrive as a natural consequence of better understanding of self. From there it’s a significant domino-effect, where the teams that are now contain optimized individuals are then optimized themselves and then the organization soon thereafter.

To be sure, this can take a significant investment of time and resources and sadly most companies say that they have neither of those in surplus or even a scant margin in excess for these types of activities, especially since it’s difficult to understand and pinpoint the quantitative bottom-line, or return on investment.

Although it can be difficult it’s not impossible – just like your own belief that culture can be refined, changed, and improved, you have to believe that investment in your people is worth it. But you already knew that, right?

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4 Responses to “The Challenge of Changing Culture”

  1. Henrik Eriksson
    January 15, 2014 at 4:51 am #

    Even if culture is a factor we tend to forget about one thing and the thing that remains constant even if you swap every employee in your staff: the system. As an example, even if we change the culture you sit down and try to thing the new way but you are being hindered by the system because some made a decision a decade ago.

    Your company is never better than your system and whatever flavor of management you throw at it it usually doesn’t care because it can’t. If you truly want to succeed with a management change you have to change your systems first do they fit into whatever management you want.

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