What drives a great Human Resources strategy? We have found that the most reliable and persuasive HR corporate culture management strategies are built on the intersections of the company’s capabilities, uniqueness and seamless execution. Businesses have to address a unique set of barriers that often require deeper insight into the culture of the organization.
How Do You Change An Organizational Culture?
Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because an organization’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because an organization’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions.
The elements fit together as an mutually reinforcing system and combine to prevent any attempt to change it. That’s why single-fix changes, such as the introduction of teams, or Lean, or Agile, or Scrum, or knowledge management, or some new process, may appear to make progress for a while, but eventually the interlocking elements of the organizational culture take over and the change is inexorably drawn back into the existing organizational culture.
Change is a large-scale undertaking, and eventually all of the organizational tools for changing minds will need to be put in play. However the order in which they deployed has a critical impact on the likelihood of success. In general, the most fruitful success strategy is to begin with leadership tools, including a vision or story of the future, cement the change in place with management tools, such as role definitions, measurement and control systems, and use the pure power tools of coercion and punishments as a last resort, when all else fails.
Frequent mistakes in trying to change culture include:
- Overuse of the power tools of coercion and underuse of leadership tools.
- Beginning with a vision or story, but failing to put in place the management tools that will cement the behavioral changes in place.
- Beginning with power tools even before a clear vision or story of the future is in place.
A corporate culture is amorphous, often difficult to describe and difficult for managers to change. But organizational change is really cultural change. So when a trio of management consultants – one of them the well-known author Jon Katzenbach – narrows down cultural change to a few easy-to-understand elements, it’s worth paying attention.
“The cultural aspect of an enterprise is of equal importance to its strategic imperative and operations approach. Those three will determine the enterprise. But culture is very different from the other two, and hard for you to change,” Mr. Katzenbach, author of books such as Leading Outside the Lines and The Wisdom of Teams, said in an interview. Strategy and operations management are analytical, while culture is as much emotional as rational. Because of that, he said, you can only influence it slowly, incrementally.