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Five steps to shifting the culture

by | Mar 13, 2018

Let’s say your CEO decides the company needs a cultural shift. When the current culture isn’t creating the right results; or when the company acquires other companies; or when leadership develops a new vision for the company’s business goals; the existing culture might need to evolve to support the success of those changes.

Here are five elements of making that shift a reality:

  1. Define the desired culture: The first step is to develop the framework for where you want the culture to be. What is top leadership’s vision for where the company is going? What are the values that will support reaching that vision?
  2. Know the gap: A crucial step to creating a cultural shift is understanding the gap between the desired culture and where you are now. At Tribe, we do that during the discovery phase of strategic planning, through interviews, focus groups and surveys with employees representing a wide cross-section of functional areas, job level and geography.
  3. Articulate the desired culture: It doesn’t do much good for the C-level to agree on the culture they want if that’s not shared with employees. At the launch of a cultural shift, we often recommend a vision book to put a stake in the ground. Distribution might be timed with an employee event and/or other initiatives to communicate the vision and values.
  4. Help employees see their role in the vision. If the desired culture is customer-centric, for instance, those employees whose jobs aren’t customer-facing might assume it doesn’t apply to them. Communicate how every single person in the organization supports that vision in their day-to-day work. In the customer-centric example, employees in the call center will have an easy time understanding how they serve the customer, but those in other departments, from accounting to IT, might not find it obvious that their work supports internal customers and thus enables those people to serve the company’s customers.
  5. Reward those who demonstrate the desired culture: The goal is for the entire employee cycle to support this cultural shift. It means changing the way the company recruits new employees; onboards new hires; recognizes employees; and rates performance.

Ultimately, the culture is defined by the qualities that are rewarded. If employees see that raises and promotions are tied to exhibiting the values, behaviors and accomplishments that align with the desired culture, they’ll get on board. If they don’t see that happening, the new culture will be a much tougher sell.

This is the critical follow-through that’s often out of our clients’ hands. No matter how much you communicate the desired culture, the reality of that shift is dependent on operational changes throughout the company.

Interested in creating a cultural shift in your company? Tribe can help.

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