I think by now you understand that culture grows with and because of the people.
You can’t impose a culture or tell your team what the culture should be.
But how do you change a culture that’s toxic or no longer serving you?
Last year I recorded a video for you, sharing some useful advice. You can watch it again by following this link.
What it means is that talking about change is not enough. Updating your vision and values is not enough. When your culture needs to be changed, you have a responsibility as a leader to make it happen, but you can’t do it alone.
It will take courage, too. You’re staging a revolution and not everyone will be happy about it. At some stage, you’ll need to face difficult situations, like cutting loose employees who don’t or won’t fit the new culture or having courageous conversations with people about their roles and what is expected of them.
This is courageous leadership in action.
I’d like to support you. Let me share what I believe are three steps you must take if you want to lead cultural change.
Don’t throw it all away. An article in Forbes tells the story of a company struggling to change its culture. It says, “…you can’t trade your company’s culture in as if it were a used car. For all its benefits and blemishes, it’s a legacy that remains uniquely yours.” That’s true and we need to recognise it.
People hate change. They have committed to the current culture and it won’t be easy for them to let it go. Talk with them to find out what they like about the current culture. There will be some elements worth saving. Look for the positives and build on them so your people have something to hold onto during the change.
Do it together. As we’ve said your culture is shaped by your people. Get them involved in the design process and ask them for their input on how it should be reinforced. Putting a big sign on the wall isn’t enough. They’ll need help to adjust and reminders about what is now expected of them.
Live it. You need to keep blowing the life into it while the culture is establishing and to maintain it. Talk about it, share it, assess your company and branding messages against it, measure your company, team and individual performance against it, and reward your people for upholding it. Make it real. And don’t put a foot out of line or you’ll lose the faith of your people.
Courageous leadership means taking action when you need to, even in the face of opposition. There will be opposition to cultural change, at least in the beginning, because your people haven’t yet seen the need to change. Work with them, be honest with them and stay focused. You’ll win their confidence and change will come.
Are you ready to lead cultural change in your company?