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Monday, April 22, 2019

3 Steps to Culture Change

In business the only constant is change. That’s a good thing. Without change we don’t grow, and if we aren’t growing, we’re usually stagnating and dying. Changing your organization is difficult; I’ve heard it described as akin to turning and ocean liner -- it can be done, but not quickly, without jeopardizing your success. And while people will eventually accept change, they seldom forgive it. Here are some tips for changing your culture as painlessly as possible:

Make Case for Change
Many transformations start with a burning platform. The term is used to describe an extremely urgent or compelling business situation in order to convey, in the strongest terms, the need for change. The crisis may already exist and just needs to be highlighted. Using this process, you can get people's attention and build awareness of the need for change very quickly.

During times of change, leaders must conquer ambiguity. Use the burning platform to measure your commitment to the change rather than creating fear and uncertainty in your people. In the midst of culture change, leaders must construct clarity through their words and actions.

Articulate Vision
You cannot expect your team to change if they do not know the direction in which they are headed. Change has to have a purpose. It is up to the leader to set the course and give a bearing for the future. Great leaders spend time illustrating the vision, the goals and the challenges. They explain to people how their role is crucial in fulfilling the vision and meeting the challenges. They inspire men and women to become passionate entrepreneurs finding innovative routes to success.

Communicate openly, frequently, and consistently. Describe your cultural vision in letters, e-mails, briefings, and put it on notice boards, in newsletters, and everywhere else you can. Don’t be afraid to over communicate your vision because you can’t.

Plot Steps to Desired State
Understanding why the organization needs to change and being able to visualize a sustainable company that is able not only to meet emerging business challenges but also to thrive in tomorrow’s reality is essential. But it’s not enough to bring lasting change. For true culture change you must have a logical and methodical plan for bringing the change to life. These next steps will lead your organization to adopt the values and practices necessary for a new culture to take hold.

Many leaders find the term culture vague and difficult to get their arms around. And this is at the center of the problem – if you can’t name it you can’t get it. Understanding that an organization’s culture is known by observing the behavior of its employees and the processes used to get work done provides leaders with a concrete place to start the work of driving culture change.

Creating or changing corporate culture is challenging and requires leaders to have a strong understanding of current conditions and the desired outcome. Leaders at all levels must engage others in making the change and personally adopt the new behaviors and values in a visible and genuine way.

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