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Is Culture Change Needed In My Organisation?

May 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 162

Culture is seen as "the way we do things around here". There may be more technical descriptions, but this certainly sums up why culture has such a big impact on organisational performance. It is an issue MD's can struggle to get to grips with, as many of the issues that surround culture are deep rooted in history.

If an organisations is suffering from a negative culture, they may experience many of the following symptoms:

  • Employees doing the bear minimum
  • Staff failing to contribute ideas
  • High percentage of staff using up their sick pay
  • High staff turnover
  • A tense and unproductive working environment
  • Poor cooperation between departments

There are many other symptoms of an organisation suffering from culture issues, but the points listed tend to be the most common issues to identify. As already mentioned, many of these issues are deep rooted in history... more often than not problems arise from poor leadership which cascade down the chain of command. This is why Culture Change can be a sensitive issue as it involves Senior Management admitting there are clear problems within their organisation - we know from experience this is not always straight forward, but it is the first step on the path of building a productive organisational culture.

To give a very basic example...let's say you have a Customer Service Director who head's up a team of 20. He / She is rude, impatient and treats the customer like an inconvenience, which unfortunately is a common feature with organisations failing to prioritise customer service. How will the employees under that Director respond? Chances are they will follow in the same footsteps because the Director is the person they look up to for inspiration and advice.

So how do you know if Culture Change is needed? Well, it's usually pretty obvious if an organisation is having problems, but identifying where the problems are coming from is not always so obvious. Simple steps can be followed:

  1. A common mistake with culture issues is to make assumptions on possible causes, but it's crucial that the first step is to carry out a simple culture survey to identify if a) there are any problems and b) what are the possible causes. A Culture Change Survey is relatively low investment cost, but will really highlight any problems that need attention.
  2. Working on a strategic plan. Depending on the Culture Survey results, a strategic plan should be developed to address the issues. It might be a particular problem with a Senior Manager / Director in which case a Personal Development Plan needs to be actioned in order for that person to develop and achieve change. It could be more serious issues such as widespread de-motivation / high turnover rates, which would require a fundamental shake up of how the organisation engages with its staff - this may require development of the Board of Directors downward! Whatever the issue, a strategic plan will achieve results and keep costs down
  3. Review - as with any good strategic plan, a review is essential to measure the success of a Culture Change project. If using assistance from an outside organisation, this is even more important as a clear Return on Investment needs to be evident to justify the intervention.

More often than not, Culture is directly linked to leadership. Changing an organisations Leadership is certainly not easy, but those willing to tackle the problem head on will notice a dramatic difference in organisational performance. It's a problem well worth addressing!

Peter is a specialist in Leadership Training and Management Training. He Believes passionately that the correct development can transform an organisation and allows them to achieve their full potential.

Source: EzineArticles
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