We’re often asked about our book Winning with a Culture of Recognition: “Is it really possible change and proactively manage a company culture?”
Unequivocally, yes! And doing so is relatively simple. But it’s not easy.
The steps you need to take to change and manage the culture you want are fairly straightforward, as discussed quite eloquently in a recent Strategy + Business article, “Stop Blaming Your Culture,” by Jon Katzenbach and Ashley Harshak, but finding the courage, diligence and desire to take those steps is not easy.
The first step – an important realization – is that you cannot deny the power of the culture you already have. Rather, you have to find ways to work within that culture to encourage only those behaviors you want to see influence the new culture you desire and to discourage behaviors you don’t. Katzenbach and Harshak put it this way:
“You need to focus on specific behaviors that solve real problems and deliver real results. This, in turn, enables people to experience the results of thinking differently. Experience becomes a better teacher than logical argument.”
Or, for a practical example they use in the opening paragraph of the article:
“It would have been easy for Gray (new commandant of the US Marine Corps) to blame the damaged organizational culture for the problems he inherited, and to launch a formal, full-scale change initiative. But instead, he began to praise and seek out elements of the old Corps culture, such as the ethic of mutual respect.”
Seek out behaviors you desire as foundational to your culture. Praise the people demonstrating those behaviors. Repeat. Often.
Simple, but not always easy.