Managing Culture Change

3 Steps to a Successful Culture Change.

Zappos. Apple. Ikea. What do these three iconic brands have in common? Each has built a passionate corporate culture that drives exceptional business results.

Corporate culture is the collection of an organisation’s unique values, mindsets and behaviors. An effective culture is aligned with business strategy and creates an environment that promotes success. It is derived from and driven by a company’s practices, policies and people. One recent study found:

84% of global leaders believe culture is critical to business success, and

60% believe culture is more important than a corporate strategy or an operating model.

However, more than half of these respondents feel their corporate culture is not effectively managed or needs a major overhaul; only half even feel that culture is on their leadership’s agenda.

With research indicating consistent correlations between robust, engaged cultures and high-performance business results, many organisations are looking to achieve effective and sustainable change in 2014. Here are 3 strategies high performing organisations use to drive change:


Understand the Present and Define the Future: To change an organisation’s culture, leaders must first understand the existing attitudes, values, motivations and assumptions of employees that shape the current environment. Pick a few critical behaviours that either need to be adjusted or that you want everyone to adopt. Use this to help give your change initiative a clear direction and you, as a leader, a clear vision that can be communicated to others.


Leverage Your People to Drive the Process: Having a clear vision does not mean having only one way to do things, however; it is essential to tap into the strengths of the people you work with and to help them see that there are many ways to work toward a common purpose. Enlist your whole leadership team, and identify fellow champions who can help get others on board with the change. And once they are committed to change, shine a spotlight on their accomplishments, so others get the message.


Show not Tell: The CEO is the most visible leader in a company. His or her direct engagement in all facets of the company’s culture can make an enormous difference, not just in how people feel about the company, but in how they perform. Similarly, individuals at all levels within an organisation can lead the charge for change by becoming a living model of the culture they aspire to lead.

Creating or changing corporate culture is challenging and requires leaders to have a strong understanding of current conditions and the desired outcome. Leaders at all levels must engage others in making the change and personally adopt the new behaviors and values in a visible and genuine way.

For more tips, see sidebar to download our Infographic “Using Workforce Analytics to Drive Cultural CHANGE.

Sources: Katzenbach Center at Booz & Company, 2013 Culture and Change Management Survey; Corporate Culture and Performance [Free Press, 1992]; Strategy+Business Magazine; PI Worldwide research

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