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How to Produce the Cultural Shift that Motivates Organizational Change

How a brand storytelling strategy can engage your people in change

As the world continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace, organizations must continue to adapt and transform to remain competitive, retain business, and attract new customers. However, transformational change is easier said than done. Organizational change challenges the unwritten norms, requiring people to adjust to new policies, processes, and practices.

In a previous video article, we described 7 strategies for overcoming resistance to change. In practice, those strategies are adjusted organizational behaviors designed to improve performance and commitment in the workplace. In this article, you’ll learn the steps needed to produce the cultural shift to support these new organizational behaviors, as you seek to motivate organizational change.

Why are people resistant to change?

Organizational culture is not simply created. It evolves with experiences, and is shaped by people over time. As culture slowly evolves, people become comfortable with it. They get used to the way things are done. Change necessarily requires people to move out of this comfort zone. This is a difficult task for many, and the natural response is often “Why change what isn’t broken?”. Further, change requires addressing emotional issues that surface. These often go unaddressed and create some of the biggest barriers to the change.

Why you need a cultural shift to motivate organizational change

This comfort zone, the environment in which your people feel safest, is embedded in your organizational culture. It’s what supports your company’s values and beliefs. It is reflected in your mission statement. To lead change, you must influence change. Your current culture may not support your updated values, beliefs, and operational goals. It may not support the organizational behaviors needed to support your change efforts.

How to shift your organizational culture

There are three major steps to take when undertaking cultural shift:

  1. Identify and understand your current organizational culture
  2. Decide your organizational goals and direction you want to take the organization, and define the new culture that will support your objectives
  3. Describe the organizational behaviors that will work hand in hand with the new culture to motivate organizational change

Understanding your current organizational culture

Organizational culture is evident across many facets. It is displayed by the way your people work, the environment they work in, and how they feel about leaders, colleagues, goals, and your organization’s values and beliefs. You’ll discover it by testing the water of employee emotions, noting the interaction between colleagues, items that employees place on desks and hang on walls, and so on.

You may consider conducting employee interviews, individually and in groups, which are designed to assess interaction and behavior patterns. Combine these with organization culture surveys, and you will build a complete picture of your current organizational culture.

Define your desired organizational culture and goals

You cannot plan your route without knowing your destination. Rewrite your organization’s values and mission statement, in line with your new vision and corporate goals. Consider what your most important values are, and assess if your current culture is congruent with them. If not, management must uncover the reasons why.

With your vision and mission clearly stated, you must communicate this to your employees. Be clear, concise, and succinct. Leave them in no doubt about the importance of achieving the new vision, and leave them in no doubt about how important they are as individuals and teams in your plans.

Describe and embed new organizational behaviors

With the current situation defined and new vision decided, you can now determine the organizational behaviors needed to direct people toward your goals.

Patrick Lencioni, in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, described how an incoming CEO changed culture by first identifying the current culture, defining goals, and challenging the management team to new organizational behaviors. An example was that in team meetings, everyone agreed with each other. To achieve the vision of a reinvigorated and highly-performing sales organization, meetings needed an injection of healthy conflict. People needed to challenge misconceived ideas, instead of concurring for a peaceful life.

Redefining organizational culture

Organizational behaviors and organizational culture are intrinsically linked. They exist in tandem. When changing culture, you must first help people to let go of the old ways of doing things. Unless they do so, they will not embrace change or engage with the new vision. Organizational behaviors play an integral role in this process. You will need to:

  • Disseminate values, beliefs, and mission statements
  • Ensure leaders, managers, and supervisors practice effective communication
  • Restructure the organization to align with the new vision, values, and goals
  • Onboard incentives and reward schemes
  • Review and revise working practices, processes, and systems

Most importantly, your efforts to change culture and behaviors that support and motivate change must benefit from:

  • High-level executive support: walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk
  • Coaching and training: employees must be supported through cultural change, and helped to understand the new behaviors required of them

Cultural change is the most difficult undertaking that your organization will face. It requires the breaking of current culture, which has been embedded in people’s behaviors over years. Then you must rebuild the new culture that supports your new vision of the future. To do this effectively, you must prioritize your efforts, remain consistent with your behaviors, and support people through the transition.

To discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp and coaching in emotional intelligence will help your organization and leaders produce lasting change, contact Forward Focus today.

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