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paper commerceFocus on three or four existing cultural traits that have an emotional influence on the people in your organization. For example, the U.S. Marines’ core values are honour, courage and commitment. Critical behaviours are more practical. But you need to dig at the traits that lead to the behaviours you want – that employees take pride in – and promote them, so that people will change their behaviour. When employees hear about the traits, they need to be able to recognize and personalize them. The traits need to feel specific to the real world [that] people work in every day. Getting to this point is a process.

Managers need to mobilize  “the informal leaders” in the organization. These are people at various levels who motivate others by what they do and how they do it. They are recognized by their colleagues as credible, trustworthy and effective – and they know how to influence behaviour. They are already doing it, and you want them to help champion the change you are promoting so that others will buy in. These people are almost more essential in gaining cultural impact than the leaders at the top. In summary, focus on critical behaviours, cultural traits, and informal leaders – the crucial few elements that can help you create cultural change, slowly.