“Culture is about changing and aligning people, programs, and infrastructure to drive a consistent set of beliefs, decisions, and behaviours in an organisation. Leaders are in a unique position to set the tone, demonstrate the value of human capital, link people to the mission of the organisation, and act in a consistent, authentic, and strategic ways to make engagement happen.”AON Hewitt – 2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement
Nailing your company culture means we see beliefs and behaviours that positively impact the company and transforms the performance of our teams. But what happens when you are not articulating your culture to the wider organisation? Are you clear about the steps you need to take when company culture goes wrong?
Culture change goes to the heart of what we do at Corporate Edge. In this post, we cover our four-step process designed to help you align your culture with your vision and strategy – we call it the ACCE-ing model. Put simply, it singles out the four issues you need to act on before you can successfully create a positive culture.
Here are the four elements:
1. Align: is your team aligned?
Start by taking a good look at your leadership team. John Kotter, one of today’s foremost thinkers on sparking change, emphasises that it is our leaders who must be the catalysts for changing toxic culture.
A strong culture comes from the top and your leaders must be fully aligned for an organisation to have a well-defined, rock-solid culture. Cracks at th e top can lead to a wider gap in the organisation, so ask yourself: is your leadership team united in giving out the same message to their teams and to the people below them? What shared patterns of communication and actions (or lack of) are helping to support team alignment?
Take note of any discrepancies you find. Those issues will inform your plan to improve alignment within the organisation.
2. Clarify: is there clarity around your vision, your strategy and your culture?
Once you know you have a strong and united team in place, you need to ask what does your team stand for? Where do you want the organisation to go? If your vision, strategy and culture are not 100% clear to all involved, you are going to struggle to gain their commitment and backing for the journey ahead.
You need to clarify your culture, your vision and your strategy. You also need to clarify the change management plan necessary to communicate and embed these into your organisation.
3. Communicate: how are you communicating and promoting your company culture?
With a clear understanding of your culture, you’re now in a position to communicate your plan. Take steps to launch the actual culture and have an ongoing communication plan in place. For example, start every meeting with a culture share, or each week, call out one part of the culture for your team to focus on.
It is vital that you keep talking about what your vision and your strategy is, and why your culture is important. Ask yourself: How are you keeping your company culture alive? What are the daily, visible reminders?
For example, in our Sydney office, one of the first things people see when they walk through the door is an entire wall of artwork that visually outlines our principles and values – in effect, a daily reminder of Corporate Edge’s vision and strategy.
For the people who weren’t involved in creating the vision and strategy, they need you to help explain where they fit into that picture, so make sure you keep a steady and open stream of communication. Rather than a one-off piece of communication such as an email, video or meeting, make sure you place a high value on two-way communication and remember there is no such thing as over-communicating.
4. Embed: do you have aligned ways of working in place?
Finally, you need to embed your company culture. In practice, this means two things:
- As leaders, you need to role-model the behaviours that you’re looking for from your people. There’s no point putting a culture in place and then not living up to it.
- Secondly, you also need to have the structures and systems in place to support your strategy, vision and culture so that your team have a clearly defined course and know what their role is. The behaviour and systems being role modelled by you will become embedded by your team into the normal flow of day-to-day operations, and your culture will become a self-reinforcing system.
One final tip
Once you have executed and embedded the culture change plan, make sure you are constantly reviewing it. Measuring and refining the steps you have taken, and getting feedback is critical to knowing how your culture is being received. Think about having a feedback mechanism, meetings, or surveys in place for people to detail their experience.
The most successful cultures flourish because there are leaders who are living it every day by aligning, clarifying, communicating and embedding their company culture and strategies. Whenever you are struggling with one of these issues, come back to the ACCE-ing model and make it your personal responsibility to ensure all four elements are in place, and if not, what are you doing to rectify it?
We dive into this in more detail in the video below. Take four minutes to watch and think about how you can alter the path your company culture has taken by following the four steps of ACCE-ing culture.