Crafting an engaging company culture during change

Creating an engaging company culture that attracts and retains high-quality talent should be a top priority!

It is important not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater when designing an engaging company culture. Many new leaders (specially those involved in a turn-around) try stamp their authority by implementing their own culture change agenda. Unfortunately a purely top down approach to culture tends to increase resistance and disengagement.  Too much attention on what was “wrong” can inadvertently send the message that all previous employee contributions had little real value or meaning. In a crisis a dramatic change to a culture may be necessary for the organisation’s survival. However, it is important to take the time to assess what works as well as fixing what is broken. Instead of a driven and dramatic change agenda, focus on evolving the current culture. This approach increases buy-in and participation.Too much attention on what is “wrong” can inadvertently send the message that all previous contributions had little real value or meaning.

A successful culture strives to create happy, engaged employees while at the same time driving strategic business goals. 

Tips to effectively evolving an engaging company culture:

1. Acknowledge what already works

Although elements of your organisational culture or team may need tweaking, there will also be behaviours that are productive and positive. It is essential discover what these are, and why they work. Many of these bright spots when nurtured can form the foundation of a more successful culture.  A little acknowledgement and recognition goes a long way towards buy-in and participation. Our employees often have a real sense of the elements that actually make up your culture (good/bad/ugly). However, to uncover the hidden gems and possible solutions we need to truly listen to our employees.

2. Beware the shadow side of your engaging company culture

Unexamined positive values and behaviours all contain a potential shadow side that may produce counterproductive results. For example, insisting on a culture of mutual respect may prevent employees from sharing essential, honest feedback with leaders. They may be afraid that an unpopular perspective could come across as disrespectful, and that they may be reprimanded for speaking up. Similarly, hiring for cultural fit without including diversity can quickly devolve into only hiring people who think and act in a particular way. A learning and innovative culture requires diversity of thought and perspective to ensure the elimination of group think. Encourage the unpacking of values into day-to-day behaviours and the willingness to entertain diverse perspectives. 

3. Be honest about the reality vs your ideal

Your culture is a living, breathing echo-system that requires attention and support. It is not a static set of rules and behaviours.  It is essential to be honest about how you actually act vs. the ideal you hope is true. There are always unintended consequences to any culture building approach, it is a constant dance that evolves as we do.  

4. Remember the power of culture stories

Definitions and jargon-rich values statements can be easily misinterpreted. Stories of your values, strategy or culture in action are a powerful way to unpack and acknowledge what works, and what is expected. Stake holder buy-in and participation are critical to ensuring any changes made are successful.  Effective stories capture attention by stimulating our imaginations, an essential skill in a world full of noise and information overload.  Stories help us connect and relate to ideas, building a common language, and helping us to overcome differences in understanding or context.

5. Become a culture role model

How we show up each day, every comment, action and decision helps shape the overall culture in powerful ways. We can either be participants in crafting our culture or the victims of circumstance. Self awareness is the key to evolving an engaging company culture. The truth is, whether we are entry-level employees or members of the executive, the process of effectively evolving our organisation’s culture is exactly the same – begin with what we contribute.Tips to effectively evolving an engaging company culture Infographic

Tips to effectively evolving an engaging company culture

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Richard Riche

Engagement and communication specialist at One Clear Message
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills.TED style speaking and presentation skills, Emotional Intelligence skills, Employee Engagement/Experience, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. One Clear Message offers training, consulting and coaching.
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