Company culture has a significant impact on current and potential employees. Here are some effective steps to take on a culture transformation journey.
Did you know that 35 percent of Americans would turn down a perfect job if they felt that the company’s culture wasn’t the right fit for them? Working on your organizational culture to ensure that it aligns with candidates is key to standing out and retaining employees.
So, what are the steps you need to take to understand your current organizational culture? Let’s walk through effective culture transformation strategies, one by one.
Obtain Executive Buy-In Before Assessing Organizational Culture
Before you assess your current workplace culture, you’ll want to obtain high-level sponsorship. Understanding your current culture isn’t going to be easy. You’ll likely dig up some hard-to-swallow information about your colleagues and fellow executive team members. You’ll want an executive team that is fully onboard and prepared to tackle the challenges ahead.
One of the most widely studied cultural traits is empathy. There is a gap in how important CEOs and executives feel empathy is vs. how employees view empathy as a trait. According to a study by Businessolver, 50 percent of CEOs see the connection between empathy, productivity and motivation, while 76 percent of employees understand the connection.
These are the kinds of disconnects you’ll often see when trying to address your workplace culture. While employers might not agree with everything you uncover, you have to make sure that they exhibit an openness to empathy and understanding.
When connecting with executives, you’ll probably want to have conversations about what you hope to uncover and what you want your organization’s culture to look like in an ideal world. Understanding the goal will help you create the best action plan after connecting with employees.
Utilize Confidential Surveys to Understand Big Picture Issues
When you are trying to uncover larger issues in your organization, lean on confidential surveys. Confidential surveys strip away as much detail as possible about the person taking the survey. Instead of asking demographic questions, you’ll focus on the questions that help you understand your organization’s culture wins and issues.
We talk about confidential surveys because it can be pretty challenging to offer true anonymity. Do your best to strip away any questions that can unfairly uncover your employees. Leave out any questions about things like gender or race. Don’t forget to remove any tracking of emails or IP addresses while you are at it. You want things to be as anonymous and as confidential as possible.
Make sure to leave some room for open-ended questions, but don’t rely too heavily on them. Open-ended questions can make it harder to keep surveys confidential if your employees have unique writing styles or stories.
Conduct Focus Groups to Diagnose Personal Culture Problems
After you’ve conducted and analyzed surveys, it’s time to dig deeper with focus groups with team members.
The survey you conducted should have given you the lay of the land to understand the major problems in your company’s culture. After you understand the big issue, bring these conversations to your team members. Get to know how the larger issues are impacting their day-to-day lives. You’ll want to let your employees know that they aren’t the only ones who brought up these concerns.
Analyze the interviews you’ve conducted and pull out any common themes and immediate action items you need to take. Then, think back to the original company culture goals that your executive team came up with. How do you bridge the gap between what your employees need and what the executive team wants?
Bring This Data Back to the Company
After you’ve heard from all your employees through confidential surveys and focus groups, it’s time to bring the data and conversation back to the entire company. Let your employees know:
- What data you uncovered about the company’s culture
- What you are going to do about it
You should also give employees time to communicate any issues they feel were not properly addressed. Talkative colleagues that complain to other employees won’t solve your cultural issues. You need to face issues head-on. Give employees a chance to air their grievances privately before they take them public. Everybody needs to participate in difficult, yet courageous conversations.
Make sure you follow through on any short-term fixes and promises you make. Employees want to trust you and your ability to follow through. Make sure that you communicate with higher-ups before making any promises about the cultural changes you want to make. It might take you a bit longer to come back to the company with data, but your employees will value how thorough you are.
Continue to Experiment and Make Necessary Changes
Finally, you’ll want to continue to expand and iterate on all the knowledge you gleaned from taking stock of your organizational culture. True organizational change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes months and years of work to turn around a negative company culture.
For example, you might notice that a lot of your employees are dealing with burnout. If you went around the office asking people about their burnout and making a few simple tweaks, that would help in the moment, but it would only be a temporary fix. If you want a permanent fix to burnout, you’d need to devote far more resources and time to fix the problem.
Once you identify a problem, implement a temporary solution and then figure out what you need to do regularly to get rid of the problem.
What Will Your Organization’s Legacy Be?
When was the last time you thought about your organization’s legacy? Your company is making a statement with its culture, even if you don’t have one in mind. Whatever is happening inside of your organization is impacting employees and giving them an impression of your company.
The best leaders take time to understand the culture and the underlying issues their business has. When you spend energy understanding your company, you can fix cultural issues before they turn into problems that create toxic workplaces.
So, what kind of leader will you be? Will you do the courageous culture work your company deserves? We hope so.