The culture of a company can define the company as either successful or not. It can define the company as one that is great to work for or terrible to work. The culture can also define the level of productivity and the effective use of time within the company. Developing and nurturing a positive company culture is essential. One important factor to keep in mind is that this important aspect of running a business can be changed as is necessary. Business lacking in the positive company culture is not necessarily doomed for failure unless they refuse to accept their shortcomings and make a change for the better. In order to create an effective change within the company culture, the management team needs to work together as a cohesive unit. Individuals also need to be willing to learn from each other while addressing ways to move the company forward.
When a business is being doomed by its own culture, a change is needed. Be aware, however, as some employees may be resistant to change. This may start with developing and instituting new ideals. These ideals will set the scene for how management wants to see the company operating. The management can also create change by conducting better group meetings. This may mean making the meetings shorter and more concise, more productive, or simply less boring. Although meetings are often necessary, they do not need to be high-pressured, intense, or boring. Information can be discussed and disclosed in a casual and supportive environment. Finally, members of management, as well as the general staff, need to be open to significant changes. Changing the culture of a company often involves drastic changes in rules and procedures. Resistance to these changes will decrease the effectiveness of the changes.
Changing the culture of a company can be life-altering for both the company and the employees. Learning how to work together as a group will lessen the tension that may exist between members of the team. Additionally, learning to work together will allow for better use of time and resources. Making the needed changes to create a new company culture will positively alter daily tasks and workload. The changes will also enable co-workers to create more positive bonds with each other, with management, and with the company as a whole. Create an atmosphere of support and loyalty will benefit the company in the long run by reducing turnover.
The first step to creating a positive work culture is to develop a full understanding of what culture is with regards to business. Ari Weinzweig, author of “Five Steps to Building an Organizational Culture” asserts that “culture is not the mission statement, the vision, your bank balance, or the staff handbook, though all those contribute to creating it. The culture is what we do and say, the way we behave, the way we treat each other, our products, our customers, our community and ourselves.” This description provides an accurate image of what a company’s culture is. It is all the intangible things that make up the personality of the company. Just like with people, the personality can be good or bad. The goal is to create a supportive personality, so management and employees, alike feel they are apart of something. F. John Reh, author of “Company Culture: What it is and how to change it” provides a similar and supportive definition for company culture. “Company culture, therefore, is the shared values and practices of the company’s employees” (Reh, n.d.). Reh emphases the importance of culture in his article, as well as the understanding that culture is constantly developing. The culture of a company can change on its own as employees leave and new employees take their places. However, a solid management team can effectively work to make sure the culture of the company stays in line with the goals and mission of the company. While it is sometimes positive to allow things to develop organically, it is equally important to intervene when it is clear the changes are not positive for the total group.
Before attempting to make a change in the culture of a company, it is important to understand the possible downfalls of the move in order to act proactively and avoid them. Steve Denning, author of “How Do You Change an Organizational Culture?” (2011), asserts that while not impossible, changing the culture of an organization is one of the “most difficult leadership challenges.” Denning also discusses in his article how strong leadership is critical to the success of changing organizational culture (2011). According to the article, “Changing Workplace Culture,” there are seven downfalls to be considered when contemplating a culture change. These down falls are; a loss of support from senior management, reverting to traditional autocratic style leadership, leaders not leading by example, not understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the team, not using vision and mission to guide decisions, creating a faulty redesign, and employees are moved around too much in the early stages of the change (“Changing Workplace Culture” , n.d.). Each of these potential downfalls could ruin the effort to change the culture of the company. Additionally, these downfalls could develop simultaneously; working together to ruin the change in culture.
There are a variety of ways to initiate and maintain a culture change. The article, “How to change a Work Culture” offers ten ideas on how to initiate and maintain work culture changes. These ideas include; changing the hiring process, improving communication systems, eliminate busy work, and change the employee compensation plan (“How to change Work Culture” , n.d.). These tips, if enacted, will help to maintain the changes. Changing the hiring process is an ideal example of that. Make sure all new customers are on board with the new culture of the business will prevent the needed for constant ongoing advice on this. Changes in the compensation plan will reiterate the workplace culture changes and provide employees with the motivation to stay focused.
Another important factor is to make sure your company is being run in within the realm of the company’s mission. As part of changing the culture of a workplace, employers should develop a clear action plan that is aligned with the company’s image (Reh, n.d.). The company should also develop their own in-store action plans, and it is vitally important to speak clearly and be aware of how others perceive decisions. It also provides a framework which can be used as a task calendar. Finally, Reh expresses the importance of clear and concise communication. This is important between managers, as well as between the managers and the staff.
There are many ways to teach employees the new culture of the company. Although each of these methods work independently, using them in conjunction with each other will be most effective. The first step is to teach it (Weinzweig, n.d.). While teaching the basics of the new culture, tell stories about your life and you business; it will remind people you are still human, and they will be more likely to start the conversation with you in the future. Teaching employees and managers about the new culture will also provide insight into where the business is going. This is important to build and maintain confidence from employees and other stakeholders.
The next step in changing the culture of a company is to live the changes (Weinzweig, n.d.). Employees will quickly pick up on managers that are being insincere about changes. This is why it is vitally important for managers to adhere to the changes, as well. Positive changes will not occur if the employees feel there is a different set of rules for the managers. Finally, procedures need to be in place for a multitude of possible things that adhere to the mission of the company. For example, if an employee calls off at the last minute, the first priority needs to be finding a replacement worker. The second priority is to decide how the call off will be handled. Likewise, when a customer does not pay, it is important to provide the customer with options of their choices.
The next step to changing the culture of a company is to measure the progress of change by using the change theory (Weinzweig, n.d.). Although a company cannot always measure intangible benefits and changes, they can measure employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and more effective time management. These should be the results of creating a positive company culture. The article, “Strategies for Changing Your Organization’s Culture” recommends regular data tracking as a means of monitoring changes in the culture. It does not matter so much how company chooses to measure the change, as long as it is done. Without accurately measuring change, it may be impossible to tell if the culture change is successful or not. As mentioned earlier, culture changes can turn out negative; making the company even more inefficient. The method of measuring success should also be included in the overall action plan, this will help maintain focus on the end goal.
Rewarding employees is also a great way to promote a change in culture. Many organizations struggle with high turn over or low company morale because the employees do not feel appreciated for the work they do. Rewarding employees for excellent work is a great way to improve those feelings. This can be done through a number of programs. For example, companies can provide their employees with monthly performance bonuses. If this is not realistically possible, they can provide annual performance bonuses. Employees can also be offered time off as a reward for good work. This may be in the form of leaving work early, getting a long weekend or an increase in their vacation days.
There are situations within the business world where developing a new company culture is required. One such example of this is when two companies merge into one. Each company had its own unique culture, but after merging the employees from each will be working together to accomplish a common goal. If both of the companies were struggling previous to the merging, the management may get together and decide on a new company cultural mission that will not be reminiscent of either company’s former mission. This will help define the company as a new company, opposed to a company that bought another company and absorbed the staff. These types of situations can create a ‘them versus us’ mentality, but this does not need to be the case. Fully merging into one and creating a new company cultural can result in the development of one very strong business with the best from each previous company.
When merging two businesses together, making successful partnerships, and making cultural changes, it is important to also take into consideration the needs of the employees. For example, ensuring private offices, new computers, and clean bathrooms is a great way to boost employee morale and company loyalty. Another way to boost company support and morale, particularly after a merger, is to create a leadership with members from each individual company. There are a wide variety of ways of “mold and shape” a person into the perfect employee (Klimoski & Amos, 2012). Building leadership that only utilizing members from one of the companies will make the employees from the other company feel alienated. This is also important because the strength of the leadership will really determine the successfulness of the change over. Strong leaders can evoke change while still making employees feel empowered and appreciated. “Having a leader who does not implement change on a regular basis will have the company become stale” (Smith & Singer, 2012). Similarly to strong leadership, positive company culture is an intangible, yet intrinsic value that will enable a company to become wildly successful. One of the most important factors pointed out in nearly all the literature was the importance of management teams to be open to change. If management becomes complacent, so will the employees, and productivity will suffer as a result. Now, often times when managers become complacent, it is because they do not feel the support of the ownership. It is vitally important to provide staff members with all the resources they need to effectively do their job.
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