Results by John Austin, PhD

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Changing the culture

Culture eats strategy

Culture eats strategy for… Yeah, you’ve heard that, I’m sure.

…but culture is being impacted by everyone all the time, including in each of the improvement projects that leaders run in my courses.

It’s one of those things that changes so slowly you can hardly see it, like my son growing taller.

You wake up one day and say, wow, he’s really grown!

If you focus on something he’s doing though…something that’s measurable, and you take a snapshot regularly, then you can see the change happening…

…and in your organization, you can even use the data to help make the change possible and reward those who help.

However, have you ever considered that you or your management team may be engaging in behavior that is undermining your change efforts?

Ask yourself these questions to reflect on this possibility.

Do you or other leaders in your organization ever…

  1. Talk at the employee, don’t involve them?
  2. Don’t give specific feedback, talk in generalities?
  3. Concentrate on attitude rather than behavior
  4. Assume the employee knows a problem exists
  5. Assume the employee knows what has to be done to solve the problem?
  6. Don’t follow up to insure the agreed upon action has been taken by the employee?
  7. Don’t acknowledge or praise the employee when they fix the problem?

Do you ever see any of these in your organization? These are all inspired by the book, “Coaching for Improved Work Performance”, by Ferdinand Fournies.

My point here is it that takes a lot more than launching a ‘culture change initiative’ to actually change your culture.

If, one day you put up signs, send emails/memos and have meetings outlining what the “new” culture is going to be for your organization, but your actions or the actions of your management team are contradictory to that culture, nothing is going to change…

…and you may get a lot of eye rolls and resistance from the rest of the employees.

It’s a lot like saying you have an open-door policy, but consistently ignore or worse, belittle and criticize employees who try to share their ideas or concerns. Everyone quickly understands that your “open door policy” is just something that sounds nice to say but is not true.

A culture change in any organization must start with the behavior of the leadership… once those are inline it becomes easier to pinpoint the behaviors and environments of the rest of the organization that need changing.

Would you like me to speak to your organization on topics like this? Email me to learn more.

Or if you want to learn more about this topic and how to use behavioral science to help you create a positive work environment email me or sign up for free leadership resources here:

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