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  • Writer's pictureChris Ward

Time to change your brand or corporate culture? Don’t leave it to chance.

Investopedia defines corporate culture as the beliefs and behaviours that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.

It goes on to suggest: Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company's culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction and every other aspect of operations.

Clearly, the way people think and behave has an enormous impact on both brand and culture.

Required: Perseverance and commitment.

Changing a corporate culture is not for the feint-hearted or impatient. It takes perseverance, and a commitment of time and energy. Just like revamping your brand, it comes down to changing attitudes and behaviours.

It means changing the way people relate to one another, they approach the various tasks that make up their jobs, …the way they support one another and the lengths to which they will go to ensure their “customers” (buyers, members, donors or volunteers) are satisfied (better still, delighted!) with what they receive from the organization.

Shaking up the status quo. 

Because most cultures have developed organically, it is reasonable to assume that employees are fairly comfortable with the status quo. That doesn’t mean they necessarily like everything just the way it is or will be adamantly opposed to a different way of doing certain things. But it does suggest many are quite happy to continue operating – or behaving – the way they always have. So asking them to do things in a different way can be very challenging.

As most parents will attest, getting a son or daughter to change a behaviour can be about as easy as getting a rattlesnake to make nice at a tea party. None of these critters responds well to edicts laid down by those in authority. That doesn’t mean that changing a corporate culture is impossible or a task mere mortals should steer clear of. But human nature being what it is, it does suggest the need for a thoughtful approach tailored to the situation. Just as you can’t reason with a rattlesnake, the proverbial stick is absolutely not the way to get employees to embrace a new way of doing things.

Two essentials: Clarity and openness.  

So what’s the best way to affect a change in the way things are done in your organization? Remembering that corporate culture and a corporate brand are all about beliefs and behaviours, there are several must dos. These include:

  • Being clear about how you would like beliefs and behaviours to change.

  • Being equally clear about what these changing beliefs and behaviours will mean for employees, and how they approach their work and relate to each other.

  • Explaining the change in a way that makes sense to employees – there has to be a reason that employees understand and buy into.

  • Providing training to ensure that each employee understands what it means to change course, and what behaviours will ensure the change is properly introduced and takes hold.Being open to feedback and suggestions for making the change process go more smoothly.

If the change has not been well defined in terms of what’s expected of employees, the whole initiative is pretty much over before it has begun.  In addition to clarity and openness, key success factors include engaged employees, communication and flexibility, ...a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances and outcomes.  

In next week’s post we’ll take a look at the one factor that is absolutely guaranteed to make or break the success of a culture change initiative. Stay tuned!

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