You can always nudge a lively and controversial exchange by bringing up the topic of organisational culture and development. By now there is a mutual understanding that organisational culture plays a decisive importance in shaping behaviour in organisations, achieving goals and being successful. However, there is not a unified overall understanding or even a success template in companies of what organisational culture actually encompasses, how it influences behaviour and to what extent it is something individuals (especially leaders) can actively change. But pretty clear is: An organisational culture is never carved from one stone or completely stable, considering the manifold factors driving variations in the culture of business units or functions, and incrementally and constantly shifting in response to external and internal changes.
Consequently, evaluating organisational culture is complicated by the fact that you are trying to hit a moving target. On the other hand, seeing these ongoing changes and movements also gives rise to the hope that culture change can be managed as a continuous process taking small steps rather than through big shifts. But one thing is quite evident: we need to be aware that culture will not automatically shift and align when there is a significant change in strategic goals, mission or vision or when environmental changes and disruptions take effect.
The culture of an organisation should always be learning and developing.
Hence, to achieve a sustainable culture change we need to consider the pure (1) toolset to achieve process changes, the expansion of the (2) skillset for a system change and finally the adapted (3) mindset for a truly transformational change. So working with culture development need to include strategically derived actions and measures, which are built upon each other and reinforce the organisation.
Put into concrete actions these requirements can include a whole variety of actions and measures. Just to name a few of them:
• developing new communication channels and formats in your organisation to ‘tell the story
“We need to be aware that culture will not automatically shift and align when there is a significant change in strategic goals, mission or vision or when environmental changes and disruptions take effect”
• working with a tailor-made competency framework which includes not only functional skills but also standards and levels of behavioural aspects required by your organisation. This can have a major impact on your performance management, talent management, personnel development, and recruitment processes
• continuously improving and aligning the associated processes and structures
• working with regular small pulse checks on tool implementation
• evaluating transfer and impact for newly imparted learning and skill content
• giving regular insights into different sites or locations through “Coffee & Learn” sessions
• promoting feedback and recognition for individual and team achievements
However, in addition to activities that are consciously and strategically incorporated into culture development, we all have the opportunity and responsibility to constantly consider what our contribution to the development of our culture can look like–regardless of which level and in which business unit we are working, regardless of whether we are in a leadership role or are an individual contributor.
Corporate culture can be shaped, but ultimately it is shaped by each and every one of us. Only by being willing to change perspectives and change habits will we succeed in cultural development and change. Be the change you want to see in organisational culture. And it is not only about what you do, but who you are and how you do what you do. Ready for it?