10 Ways to Change a Work Culture
In this week’s Real Life Work podcast, I provide ten answers to the ‘how to change a work culture’ question people so often ask. How long does it take to change a work culture? If you want to change a work culture, and change that culture relatively quickly, you must fundamentally change your key work system designs. These new designs help leaders develop daily work habits that support a high performance workplace.
What do I mean by fundamental work systems change? Well, to help you gain a better perspective of what I mean, here is a list of ten key things that you can do right now. I have personally seen the impact these changes make. I am confident that if you give at least a few of them a try, you too will begin see a noticeable difference in a short amount of time.
Change Work Systems to Shift Work Cultures
Most importantly, keep this in mind. You will not be able to sustain a lean six sigma, operational excellence, or process excellence pursuit if you don’t make a culture change first (unless you start from scratch and design your systems to support such efforts from the start). Also, you cannot simply buy new tools, send people to training, or ask them to change and change a culture. If you want to change your work culture, you have to change the work systems that created that culture in the first place, and have been shaping it every day since that point in time.
Tip #1 – Change Your Hiring Process
The beliefs and work practices that your work teams demonstrate daily define your work culture. Does the design of your current hiring process fail to attract, identify, and retain people who think and behave in a manner that is consistent with the culture you desire? If so, you only move further away from your culture change goals with each new hire decision that is made.
Who do you involve in your work team selection process? What types of questions do they ask? How do you make your final personnel selections? What sources do you use to find people? How do you know when you hire people that will support and promote the work culture that you desire?
Tip #2 – Measure Leadership Behavior Consistency
Most organizations measure leadership effectiveness in a very general and vague manner. Very few measure leadership behavior consistency. Ideally, we should measure leaders by the personal contributions they make. Instead, we usually focus on the results their work teams obtain. More importantly, you should measure the degree to which EACH leader consistently models the types of behaviors needed to support your desired culture.
For example, it is one thing to say that you want your leaders to empower their people and value their input. It is quite another thing to actually measure the degree to which your leaders do this day in and day out. Measure leadership behavior consistency and take action to help your leaders improve their scores. Reassign those people who aren’t able to meet these expectations after a year or so. Don’t allow certain leaders to continue to behave badly.
Tip #3 – Use Balanced Scorecards on All Processes
Most organizations that use balanced scorecards only use them at the organizational level. Very few ensure that a balanced set of performance measures are in use for each key process. Also, they fail to show their work teams how to use these scorecards to effectively review and improve performance. They might create the scorecard, but how do they review performance against it?
Often, they continue to focus more on throughput, pieces made, or sales volume to a much greater degree than the other card measures. High performance organizations require ALL work team leaders (managers, supervisors, etc.) to consistently improve the trends for all of their key measures, not just those that have been culturally popular to focus on in the past. How effectively do your measurement systems support the work culture you desire?