Every company has faced a tremendous change in the past two years. 72% of organizations report that fostering a healthy culture drives successful initiatives and allows employees to perform more effectively during periods of organizational change.
These massive changes over the past two years have dramatically impacted company cultures, creating a very high-risk environment for employee turnover. In this article, we will talk about how you can champion company culture even in a hybrid or completely remote environment.
The Goal: Don’t leave culture change to chance — create and manage it.
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
– James A. Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer
Everyone is afraid of change. But change is inevitable. Managers should set up clear goals and support employees through organizational change. Either from changing traditional workplace into hybrid work, or getting employees adapting to new technology tools like LEAD, that helps strengthen company culture
The steps that are critical to properly drive organizational change:
1. Quantitatively measure your current cultural values.
The first step to culture change is knowing where your current culture stands; that is, what employees believe your organization’s current values are. This will allow you to get a good idea of how much change is needed and enable accountability and the ability to track your culture change more precisely over time.
2. Intentionally align culture, strategy, and structure.
Be sure that the culture change fits with the firm’s or group’s business strategy and that both fit with the organization’s structure (its formal systems and policies). Reconsider formal reporting relationships, job descriptions, selection and recruiting practices, performance appraisal, reward or compensation structures, and training and development. Supporting change and innovation both structurally and culturally have been found to be critical to the success of culture change initiatives. Make changes where appropriate to support the new culture.
3. Ensure staff and stakeholder participation.
Change can’t succeed without the meaningful involvement of many people throughout the organization. Participation can range from individually offering ideas, solutions, and reactions to concepts, to taking part in team meetings to design and build the new culture and organizational structure. Use a balanced approach, keeping in mind that input from a wide range of people can generate excitement and motivation to change, but make sure that you have a separate change structure in place (e.g., change sponsor, change committee) that can make timely and clear decisions to prevent an ambiguous vision or delay key actions.
Let’s take implementing LEAD.bot as an example.
Yes, implementing software such as LEAD.bot could be a culture-changing activity because software is only here to support, to make your job easier but not to do the whole culture-changing work.
1. Own the change
Emphasize the importance of the change, and assign someone to be the lead.
For example, if you would like to increase casual conversations among different teams and you use LEAD.bot. First, you will need to assign a project manager to be in charge of the software. The person needs to decide what the purpose for those matches is, is it for virtual coffee, or buddy program, or for diversity discussions or all of them. Then, identify how many people in total would like to participate in the matching program.
2. Motivate Stakeholders
Once you have identified the number of different programs, then it’s time to loop in the leaders of those teams, recruit “culture champions” to run the pilot of the programs, give feedback and share feedback in writing. If the feedback is positive and can be inspiring to your overall project adoption, make it into your company newsletter and give awards/recognitions to the contributors.
3. Track progress and adapt
Keep the momentum. Every quarter or so, you can have surveys about what people think and the topics people would like to discuss. Remember, you don’t want people just to meet up for anything, because people like to have suggestions first if they are unfamiliar with mingling; it is much more engaging if you ask them to meet up with certain purposes first, no matter it is to get to know each other’s job routine to increase collaboration, or help certain ERGs to discuss topics they care. It is also important to change the purposes from time to time to keep things interesting. This means you will need to update the chatting topics or create different meet-up groups to keep things interesting. You can try some icebreaker ideas we provided here , or create periodic initiatives such as March DE&I discussion, May Executive lotteries (shuffle matching executive team/channel with non- executive team/channel), Summer buddy program for interns, etc.
4. Celebrate the wins
It is important to share positive news about the program you are running. People might experience differently throughout the program, this has something to do with luck. However, a good experience can be reinforced through story sharing. Interview your employees who have good experience with your initiative, and write it in the general channel, or share it via newsletters. Once people have hopes, the chance of winning will be much higher than just doing something like a routine.
5. Don’t Lose momentum
Even after you planned and implemented it effectively, sometimes things might take time. Many companies that go through culture changes will need a lot of advocates and culture champions to create the trends. If people hesitate to share their thoughts or meet their colleagues, then you might need to consider implementing policies that improve employees’ psychological safety.
—> recognize frustrations while keep educating people on the value and progress.
Organizational change takes effort and patience. The right resource investments in organizational change will lead to incredible long-term benefits.