It has become increasingly apparent that company culture is an important factor for jobseekers and plays an important role in retaining your superstar employees.
With this in mind, organizations are looking to define their core values and ensure that they are lived out in every corner of the business. What many organizations overlook is that this is just the first step in building and sustaining a culture that attracts and retains stellar performers.
Culture Revitalization is an Organizational Change
Building and/or revitalizing a culture is an organizational change and should be treated as such. Think of it no differently than any other initiative introduced that requires a behavior or thought shift, if you simply mandate a change, your buy-in will be low and the effort unsuccessful.
Effective and long-standing changes need a champion, or change-agent who can foster the growth and development of the culture you aspire to. First thoughts may turn to higher level leaders and executives to carry the torch, but your managers are the ones who can be the most effective.
Managers as Change Agents
How can managers serve this important role in managing change?
By relying on the foundational pillars of a strong culture: the Engagement Elevators. Let’s explore how managers can utilize the Elevators to be Culture Change Agents.
1. Shared Mission
Managers are close to many employees in an organization and have the ability to bring the ideas and heart of the company’s value to life and help them become a shared experience. By demonstrating the behaviors that embody the values and recognizing those around them who do so, they begin to rally people around the shared mission and instill the sense of purpose that a strong culture brings. Be the example and usher in the changes that bring about a strong sense of purpose.
2. People Development
Managers are responsible for recruiting and hiring and should be conscious of candidates that not only have the talents to be successful in their role, but who also fit the culture.
Onboarding of new talent should be wrapped in the culture of the organization and core values need to be an integral part of the process. As a manager, you should be cognizant that every action you take with a new hire sets a precedent and gives a picture of expectations. But how about your existing employees? How do you help them see and embrace cultural change?
The first factor is communication. Be sure everyone is aware of the changes and why they are important and how they contribute to individual and organizational success.
Next, be sure to offer opportunities for growth that are tied to the culture and expand knowledge and experience. Get to know each employee and individualize their development – everyone will be in a different place in terms of the change and managers should be sure to help everyone navigate through depending on their individual strengths and weaknesses.
3. Valued Voice
Change can be hard and at times uncertain — which can be exacerbated if people feel like they have no say in what is happening to them.
Managers can ease the anxiety and tension of change by opening themselves up to listen to concerns and input from their people. Organizations should seek input from everyone and encourage managers to gather and share everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
Managers can create a psychologically safe space where ideas and creativity can flourish, and mistakes are allowed and not punished. Be sure that everyone knows that friction can be a good thing — it is where change is occurring, and although uncomfortable, it is OK. Cultures will grow and expand when each and every person feels like their voice is heard and recognized.
4. Earned Trust
When it comes to being a true agent of change, you must be the example. Nothing will stop progress on a successful change like a lack of trust. Employees should be shown what to do before being told what to do.
When managers set the example and embody the expectations first and then ask for and reward the same behavior in others, they answer the “why are we doing this” question. Managers who act one way and expect something else of their employees are not seen as having everyone’s best interest at heart, nor do they appear to be committed to organizational goals and expectations.
To help other’s change, managers may have to visibly change their own ways and habits to exhibit new norms, help other’s embrace them, and trust that the outcome will be positive.
As a manager, you set the tone for those you support and you have the ability to pave a smooth and clear path to change. As the saying goes – Be the change you want to see.