3 Steps To Improve Organisational Culture Today
When you first begin working in a professional environment, behavioural norms shape your perception of ‘how things are done around here’. You may wonder why things are done in a particular way, however there is a good chance that you conform to that cultural practice and do little to change it. Poor organisational culture is often reinforced as people try to avoid confrontation, and is best summed up by the infamous Japanese saying ‘the nail that sticks out gets hammered’. In order to improve your organisational culture and overall capability of your team, the following three steps should be followed.
1. Define your existing organisational culture
Taking the time to sit down and define existing patterns is the first, and most important step to improve organisational culture. The way in which you gather the information is up to you, however speaking to both leaders and team members will allow you to gain unbiased information throughout different levels in the company. Key assumptions that are central to the organisational culture must be discussed, and questions such as ‘why have we done it like that in the past?’ should be asked. This is also a great time to identify which cultural practices you would like your organisation to be shaped by in the future, and those which you would like to eliminate.
2. Identify how culture is learnt and passed on
Once you have discovered what the practices entail, you must identify how this is passed on throughout the organisation. Generally speaking, culture comes from a pattern of conformity and each person will copy the actions of others in order to fit in. It is usually a subconscious action, however to improve organisational culture this must be identified and communicated to key people. Once everyone is aware of the subconscious pattern, they are able to make a conscious effort to avoid certain practices.
3. Implement change
In this step you must use the knowledge gained in the previous two stages to implement positive organisational changes. A suggested tactic is to revise your organisational policy, analysing how user-friendly it is, and if it is accurately representing the values that you would like your organisation to uphold. You must recognise that organisational culture is critical to the success of your company, and be committed to improving it. As Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks once said ‘so much of what Starbucks achieved was because of the culture that was fostered’. Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM reinforced this opinion in saying ‘culture is your company’s number one asset’. It is therefore clear that if your organisation is experiencing difficulties with workplace culture, now is the time to act. Culture is not an easy thing to change, but with effort, positive changes can be implemented.
What do you think?
Is improving the culture in your workplace something that you experienced throughout your career? How did your organisation approach it and what were the results? I am interested to hear what worked and what didn’t – feel free to comment your experiences below.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Strategy & Business.