Dr. Fred Johnson
“Culture Change” is one of those nebulous phrases often tossed around today. The challenge is getting one’s arms around it quickly and succinctly.
When we discuss culture, we are referring to the overall environment that directly influences the performance and results of the organization. The corporate culture of any organization is the byproduct of the behaviors, attitudes, and values exhibited by key leaders toward others over time. Culture directly impacts the morale, trust, engagement and confidence in the leadership by those at the “grassroots” level, it can be a company’s most powerful asset or it can be its greatest weakness.
Leaders often make the mistake of believing that a company’s results can be elevated merely by implementing strategic planning, enhancing its sales and marketing, or by re-organizing its internal organizational structure. While all of these have merit, our experience validates that focusing on these areas while ignoring culture shaping is akin to throwing seed on hard ground. Because the soil environment has not been prepared to receive the seed, most of the seed will not produce effectively.
Generally, excellent cultures that propel companies treat people the way we want to be treated ourselves. These cultures praise their people, rather than treating them as a necessary business resource. Companies that have emphasized culture shaping typically display the following characteristics:
Safety. People feel respected, valued, and are treated with dignity.
Consensus. Teammates input is sought actively and considered as part of the decision-making process.
Transparency. Information, both bad and good, is shared without spin, or manipulation of facts. People trust their leaders because their leaders trust them with information.
Focus. Team members understand clearly the major priorities of the organizations. An objective framework is in place to guide what we say yes to and what we say no to.
Accountability. Because people have been engaged appropriately in the decision processes, teammates at all levels feel responsible for the results of the company. Positive peer pressure enables teams to fulfill their commitments to high standards.
Minimal Drama. Issues, conflicts, and problems are addressed directly. Principles and values of the company take precedence over personalities, even the prima donnas.
High Ethics. Honesty, truthfulness, integrity, and promoting values that we would gladly instill in our children are not sacrifice for short-term profit.
Innovation. Teammates “swing for the fence.” While operating within the values and in accordance with agreed upon objectives, people are not afraid to take risks. People are encouraged to fail forward.
Putting these characteristics on paper is easy. Demonstrating them consistently within your organization is much more challenging. At InitiativeOne, we are adept in helping organizations to shape their culture that promotes trust, passionate engagement, shared commitment, and enjoyment for one’s work.
Achieving these high-end results requires the expertise of identifying difficult, sensitive problems that are contributing to less than optimum results. Once identified, InitiativeOne has a proven process for navigating through often “politically touchy” or relationally sensitive issues that people fear confronting. More importantly, InitiativeOne transfers skills and leadership tools to your company so the organization isn’t dependent upon a consultant relationship to achieve desired objectives.