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Will it Sustain Your Culture Tomorrow?

There are two objectives influencing change: to minimize or avoid culture breaking points, and optimize business objectives to drive sustainable results.

There are many well thought out and successful structured approaches – Kotter’s 8 Steps, Lewin’s 3 Stages, Beckhard & Harris, LaMarsh and others. Everyone has a methodology explaining the relationship between complexity to impact and how significant the beliefs and behaviors must change. The transforMOTION we speak of moves organizations from:

…the way we do things around here…

to

…the way we are expected to do things around here.

Your organization is a system of shared values and beliefs that lead to behaviors and habits to guide how people approach their role, function, interactions with one another, solve problems together and deliver results. Your culture is built from the shared learning and experiences of everyone in the workplace and conveyed through the natural climate, formal and informal communication norms and their habits.

Where to Start?

The start line is where qualitative and quantitative data must be mined to identify changes in specific behaviors and habits are targeted for change. Where’s that? Where your people are. A model of clearly defined success must be established along with aligning your core change team and leadership. Our best-in-class assessment and our follow-up workshop uncovers the impact and the organization’s preparedness for change. During our debrief with you, we discuss the various options in front of you.  We move from the ‘Band-aid on a broken leg’ to ‘open heart surgery’ to go deeper, beneath the surface to access your deeper needs and those of your employee population. The tipping point is where you, the client, decides what comes next. It’s much more than perceptions, behaviors and habits that make up your climate and culture.

What is the Climate?

You wake up one day and just don’t like what’s going on anymore! Now, you’re in a situation you’re unsure how you got here – numbers aren’t being met consistently, good people are leaving and so are the bad ones, and it’s difficult to find the Rockstars that used to knock on your door. The issues go much deeper than strategy and financial performance. Things ‘aren’t working like they used to’ – consumer demands and shifting markets are rapidly changing.  You know only the fittest organizations will survive and thrive.

Your climate is a combination of factors that shape everyone’s perceptions, beliefs, assumptions and attitudes. Some examples include:  leaders’ habits, management’s actions, teamwork, how involved people are, the level of engagement and satisfaction, the strategy and functional goals even benefits and perks. It’s as much as what’s said, what’s not and how our systems and structures support a healthy, neutral or negative climate. The representation of your climate is something that’s been created by every new hire, every incumbent and every policy that’s written and every sacred cow that’s never been addressed for whatever reason.

Climate is environmental, and culture begins with the behavioral. Your environment must re-create itself and reset to a healthier workplace where employees and leadership trust each other. Until the climate has successfully moved to a more appropriate level where people are valued over process, products are not treated far better than its people and people aren’t considered solely an expense on a balance sheet, initiating a cultural shift is folly. The link between climate changes and cultural shifts in successful organizations is how people trust and respect each other.

The leaders must create a psychologically safe environment before any other initiative, strategy, system or structure is implemented. What is a psychological safe environment? It’s a climate where a significant percentage of people have each other’s back. As a parent, you would always protect your child, right? So must leaders shield employees from harm, from the fear of recrimination. It’s okay to make a mistake – we live and learn. It’s not okay to be in a punitive environment. To begin the evolution of culture, the stage, the table must be set with an environment of empathy and perspective.

What do you think happens when people don’t feel safe? They’re capable of destsructive behaviors, cover-their-ass and worse. A bad leader sacrifices people to make the numbers. When people feel safe, their natural disposition is toward cooperation and trust. A healthy environment earns leaders the right to expect the correct behaviors. Having right behaviors means ‘we’re treating one another’ with trust and respect. When the right behaviors are in place, the organization begins to see productivity gains. Why? Because, ‘we’re working together, instead of fighting one another or covering-our-asses.’ There will be gains and some losses along the road to sustainability. As the productivity settles in and stabilizes, only then will the organization earn the results they must have to be successful.

What is the Culture Here?

It’s more than feelings, emotions, norms and expectations – the spoken and unspoken, some say the ‘elephant in the room’. It’s knowing the business, taking ownership vs. stewardship of the business, how you handle mistakes, errors and negative feedback, the decision-tree, planning, organizing and executing, how ideas are shared, communication norms and vehicles and more. With or without you, a culture will be formed. It is up to you to either create, collaborate, control or compete.

What we do is ‘root-cause’ analysis of people in organizations. One of the easiest analogies is bringing sports stories into the conference room. Every action has a response and a reaction – favorable and unfavorable. Your job as the leader in an unhealthy environment or an unfavorable culture is what? Weigh the risks, the collateral damage, getting out in front of a crisis…every negative results to minimize and mitigate failure. Isn’t that playing not to lose the game? Why did you want to be a leader in the first place? How do you plan on winning a game, when you don’t know the game you’re playing.

What’s Next?

We combine results from the assessment and insights from the initial workshop regarding climate and culture to shape your culture influencing strategy. We identify and prioritize key levers for change to bake into the culture influencing strategy. We establish and coordinate small groups or Change Circles to define feedback channels and communication loops to facilitate mutliple shared learning experiences. We ensure there is a management system.

To know where to go, we must accept where we are and where we have been. You cannot merely ‘flush’ the bad down the drain; invariably there may some history that can be pulled ahead in the right context that supports the overall assumptions, values and beliefs of what an ideal culture may evolve to. This is where key levers are activated from the vision/mission, goals and strategy, supported by systems, structures, technology and competencies.

The net effect impacts three distinct levels within your business unit – individually, at a group level and at an organizational level – from expectations to effective outcomes. Throughout the process, change teams and leadership understand, adopt and model targeted behavior changes. Leaders go first! We evaluate the initial impact of and adjust through the ‘snags and gaps’ and adjust plans as needed to climate and culture. Concurrently, we’re communicating progress, recognizing and reinforcing the new behaviors – let’s catch them doing it right – while also being sensitive to surface and address gaps in behavior when things do and will go awry.

Completing the change management system, includes capturing all related lessons learned and debrief items of note into a sustainability plan. Timely follow up, coaching and auditing the process ensures there’s ongoing culture and climate assessment up, down and across the organization.

90-day Quick Start. You want to accelerate your desired results as your culture continues moving forward. Key benefits to the Culture QuickStart program: the critical behaviors, habits, values and climate affects your outcomes. We build in ownership across the organization like a chocolate fountain with accountability and confidence. We adjust strategies and plans with employee involvement supporting shared learning and results.

Train and Support Your Team. We strategically build small groups or cohorts and leverage your internal network to create, build and replicate wins across the organization. Additionally, we coach your team in the same manner our culture experts learned. We teach, coach and develop your team to lead and implement change, accelerate change and capitalize on new areas of opportunity. One of the serendipities of this model is we develop a pipeline of new leaders.

Culture Influencing. Everything changes in the way your people and teams communicate, get things done, and achieve results. We take your team through what most organizations don’t – go deep enough to reach the true root cause in the way of extraordinary outcomes. Instead of focusing on surface solutions, we go deep into the habits, routines, and behaviors that permeate how things get done in your organization. If you’re serious about creating continuous improving levels of performance and growth in your organization, we have a methodology and unparalleled set of tools to help you succeed.

We break through the critical human and cultural integration challenges obstructing your company’s ability to sustain competitive advantage.  It’s about preserving a working core and enhance your organizational capacity for collaboration, innovation, and productivity gains to drive business results with agility. Click here to schedule a private, no obligation, no strings attached conversation.

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