Peter Drucker says “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
82% of senior business executives agree, saying that getting the right culture is critical to the success of their organizations*. And yet shockingly, only 28% of executives believe they understand their Corporate Culture*, and only 19% of executives believe they have the right Corporate Culture*.
Changing corporate culture change is difficult for at least 3 practical reasons:
- Most executives can’t clearly articulate their current culture.
- They can’t clearly define their desired culture.
- Changing the culture of a “tribe” requires changing the ingrained beliefs, practices and habits of every member.
So, Peter, how do we REALLY change Corporate Culture?
Here are 7 steps to getting it right:
- As the leader start by asking yourself these questions:
- What are the values and beliefs, that you hold to be core to your ethical principles and to be successful as a company?
- How do you want to be treated by others?
- What are the standards you want to be held accountable for?
- Share and get input and “buy-in” from your senior management team.
- This can be best achieved at an off-site company retreat.
- Suggestion: Using a skilled outside facilitator who understands business and better still understands your business can be a big help.
- Articulate the message.
- First determine the core values you think are critical and why.
- Next determine what behaviors would reflect these values.
- Then play around with messaging that reflects those values & behaviors.
- Finally get a good wordsmith to work on the rough drafts and final manifesto without losing the spirit of what you are trying to get across.
- Determine if some values are “keystone “as they will drive the other values the company adheres to.
- Think of the Alcoa story. Neil Smith took over of a losing company in 1987 and delivered 13 years of unbroken success. By then Net Income was 5 times larger and market capitalization had risen to $27 billion.
- He started by stating in his 1st public address that he was going to make “Safety” his # 1 priority.
- The genius of this strategy was that it was one both unions and management could agree on. More importantly it sent a message – lives matter! If that value was lived, it meant manufacturing processes had to be improved. That in turn drove down costs and radically improved profits.
- Get the message out to the whole of the company.
- Look for opportunities to put flesh and bones on your values by sharing, recognizing and rewarding exemplary behavior that supports your core values.
- Modify and update any time you build on your strategy.
- Nothing ever stays the same. Your core values typically are timeless, but the stories and new behaviors need to change to reflect changing circumstances.
- Most important of all, “walk the talk”.
- Let’s not forget Enron! Enron’s espoused values were – “honesty, integrity and respect”. This was the height of hypocrisy. Their leaders were egregiously dishonest, had no integrity and little respect for others.
- So, it’s not about the written values – what counts are what the “tribal leaders” believe and actually live and hold each other accountable to.
*Kaplan, Marc et al. Global Human Capital Trends 2016, The New Organization: Different by Design, rep. (Deloitte University Press, 2016). pp 36-44
About the author: Tim Rooney is the founding partner of Rooney, Earl and Partners, a consultancy committed to effecting measurable change in sales and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-472-0894.