How To Change Company Culture

When you were in college you selected your major and area of concentration – to better prepare yourself for your future career. Maybe you had the opportunity to go to business school and further your education – looking to become more specialized in your niche. Let’s say you were lucky enough to find a job right after school where you soaked in all the information around you, and became familiar with your product, customer base, and executive needs. The problem with all this is that you never learn (or deeply understand) the importance of company culture during formal education.

Company culture can make or break a business.

When you are thrown in to a new job, you’re forced to adapt quickly. You don’t want to come across as demanding and ask for help more than you should. While at the same time, you want to show your independence and only ask the most important questions.

You closely watch how people interact with each other, trying not to stick out like a sore thumb, and with time you begin to understand the process that surrounds you. You notice the personalities of your co-workers (especially your boss) and tuck them away in your brain for future conversations.

This early stage of career growth focuses on adapting to the setting around you. Your survival instincts kick in and you immediately want to start moving with people, not against them.

Once you adapt to your new job, you become part of the company culture. You feel welcomed, the people around you are mostly helpful, and offer constructive criticism. Humans naturally want to fit in and be part of a group – and being accepted in your work team can feel like a great accomplishment.

This is a very general explanation of corporate company culture that exists within the business world – as I’m sure you’ve experienced an example like this already in your career.

What we’re talking about here is changing this deeply rooted concept.

If you are in a manager or supervisor role, you will be well aware of how hard it is to break through this mold and create positive change. It can be challenging to create change within a group, because good groups tend to stick together.

Upper management tends to view changes as a positive aspect, where the general employee population might feel otherwise. People don’t normally like change, simply because it’s different. Individuals fall into a routine or schedule, and they feel comfortable with the tasks they do. So while you may be considering changing rules and procedures in your workplace, be aware that resistance will be expected.

Creating change doesn’t happen overnight.

One of the most important things to consider when implementing change is remembering to stick with it. Because there might be some resistance at first, you must closely monitor your progress hoping that the change doesn’t get ignored and forgotten about.

So how might you go about monitoring change in the workplace? If you are introducing a new policy or procedure, you can direct managers to make sure the new process is being followed. Have you ever been told about an idea, or simpler way of completing something only to never try it out?

When you are looking to create change in the workplace, you are not recommending the process to be completed another way – it is an order. Which brings me to my next point…

Change happens with friendly introduction.

Instead of holding a one-way lecture on how “this is the new way” of doing things, open the room up for discussion. Yes, you still want to steer the company in your direction, but you can do so in a welcoming and friendly manner.

Explain to your employees why this change must happen – because it will improve the company’s success and future growth. But also explain why it will be easier for the employees. People will be more open to new things when they are properly introduced to them, and assured that it will make their lives easier.

Offer incentives to ensure success.

Offering incentives as a reward will only increase your chance of success when looking to create change in the workplace. Think of the many restaurants, clothing stores, and many other businesses that follow this practice. There’s a lot of draw when you have the ability to earn a reward by just following a few simple tasks or instructions. This method will not only motivate your employees when they work, but they’ll become hungrier as they keep coming back for more.

It’s the “buy two get one free” mentality that provides a reason for people to follow your methods. Even when you aren’t too demanding and continue to put in the effort when looking to create long lasting change, sometimes a little extra incentive can go a long way. Humans recognize a reward based system – and it certainly helps when you are able to offer something to your employees when they follow your instructions.

Success to change depends on you.

Will your employees be motivated to change? It’s a tough question that will have many different answers – but the driving factor will always come back to you. You can’t slack off and take your foot off the gas pedal. So don’t assume once you give your groundbreaking presentation, the masses will come running towards you. I talked about how you will experience some resistance from your employees with new change, but the other level of resistance comes from you.

You might question your decision, or even forget about the end goal. Internal resistance might be the hardest thing to overcome when you want to make major changes in the workplace. The most important thing to do is stick with it – there are certainly ways to jump over these mental hurdles. Make a list of reasons why you want to change, and how it will be beneficial for the company. You can even list the positives and negatives – but always be looking towards the end goal. The positives must outweigh the negatives.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Sometimes we can make the mistake of forcing change too much – when we might not even need it in the first place. So do your research properly, evaluate all possible outcomes, then make your decision. Change works best when a system or practice needs major improvement. You could be doing something right and might not even realize it – at the end of the day, it’s your call to make.

You should think of change as a limited resource – so don’t overuse it. As an employee it can be frustrating and overwhelming when upper management continues to change the system around them. Re-learning and re-training costs time and money. Use change wisely.

Photo by pexles.com

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