Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Culture Chase

The new year is upon us, and it seems there is a palpable tension in the air. So many plans, goals, strategies, and pressures to make changes and be successful. One of the most challenging change initiatives has to do with culture. Wanting an organization's culture to change, and the expectations around that process are complicated and often require longer than our modern attention spans are programmed to accept.

Organizational Expectations
As with any other major corporate initiative, outlining the end point is essential when embarking on such a significant project. Is it customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, better margins, reduced turnover, more efficient processes, cost savings, or a host of other topics that is the end game? Maybe it's just that everyone is going to work more effectively together and feel comfortable taking risks? Have you defined what a successful culture change looks like?

What exactly are you chasing?

Individual Expectations
Once the general outline of success has been mapped out, it is important that key members of the team understand their roles. This may sound obvious, but the desire for change, and the pressure team members feel to perform without the proper guidance can quickly slow down the change initiative, and may have top performers feeling like they can not contribute as effectively as they might.

What exactly should they be chasing?

Once the organization understands the end point, and the leaders understand their roles, it is time to get moving. A critical part of the execution is accountability. For those that are committing themselves to the behaviors necessary there should be frequent and positive feedback. The members of the team, particularly in leadership roles that say they are committed but behave differently behind the scenes must be held accountable. Avoiding confrontation with key leaders only serves to undermine the entire effort and will ultimately doom all that hard work to failure.

How About You
What big changes are in store for you this year? Is a culture change initiative something your organization is launching? If so, how have you helped your senior leadership team prepare for, and sustain, such a major endeavor?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


  1. Great points Jay. This is right where I spend most of my time. The accountability factor cannot be stressed enough. Culture change means everyone, and so that means stepping out of the norm and doing something different. Leaders have to model the desired culture and encourage everyone to take the risk to think and work differently.

    1. Thanks Tim...I appreciate the feedback. It's a tough issue, but it can also be an exciting process to go through as long as everyone is truly on board!