I’ve written many times over the years about the importance of properly assessing your organizational culture. All companies have a culture, but not all leaders are aware of their culture. It’s only through candid assessment that you can truly know the values and routines that drive your team and shape your business.
What happens, though, if you assess your organizational culture and aren’t pleased with your findings? It’s very creditworthy when business leaders recognize the need for change and are willing to embark on it. Of course, changing a deeply ingrained culture isn’t always easy, and you may find that there are some daunting roadblocks in place.
That’s my topic for today: What are some of the potential hurdles that keep you from effectively changing your organizational culture? Identifying those hurdles can be an important leap forward in and of itself. Here are some of the roadblocks you might need to dismantle.
Organizational Culture: Obstacles to Change
Leaders aren’t aligned.
- One potential obstacle to organizational change is misalignment among your leaders.
- What happens when you have multiple people in supervisory or leadership roles, and they have competing ideas about how the company culture needs to be changed… or, a disagreement over whether it needs to be changed at all?
- You need all hands on deck and full team buy-in for organizational change to be effective, and that starts with getting all your leaders on the same page.
It’s critical to have transparent, up-front engagement between your leaders, whose unity and alignment will be essential as you embark on any kind of cultural change.
You don’t have foundational elements in place.
Where should you begin in your efforts to change the organizational culture?
- Before you get too deep into it, I’d highly recommend you put some foundational documents in place, such as a statement of values, a synopsis of your mission, or some other formalized framework to define your organizational culture.
- Ensure you get input from your leaders and team members as you draft these documents, and make sure they are very clearly articulated to everyone involved.
These foundational documents can serve as guardrails to you as you seek changes to your organization.
Your managers aren’t empowered
The process of overhauling your company culture can be strenuous, and at times it may be rather taxing on your employees. You’ll want to ensure that anyone in a managerial or supervisory role is equipped to guide team members through these changes.
A common roadblock is that managers don’t feel like they have what they need to provide this guidance… that they either lack a clear understanding of the proposed changes, or they don’t have the resources they need to assist their employees.
Changing our culture is an investment, and you’ll need to ensure you’ve sufficiently invested in all the leaders within your organization.
Your employees don’t see the point
Why are you changing your organizational culture? What problems did you identify? What are your goals for this cultural change? Why should your team members care?
These aren’t rhetorical questions. On the contrary, they’re inquiries you’re likely to get from your team, and it’s critical to have clear answers. In fact, I wouldn’t wait for the answers. I’d be proactive in expressing a strong vision to your team members, helping to motivate them to engage in your organizational change.
Your HR team isn’t on board.
We’ve talked about the importance of getting your leaders on board. We’ve discussed empowering your managers. And we’ve mentioned articulating a vision to your employees.
But there’s one more group we need to discuss, and that’s your HR team.
You’re not going to get an organizational change off the ground without input and involvement from your HR team, plain and simple. Specifically, I’d argue that you really need to have your proposed cultural changes embedded into key HR processes, including recruitment, onboarding, and any performance management systems you have in place.
It can’t be stressed enough: You need the HR team on your side, which means keeping them fully informed and participatory in your organizational change.
You don’t have measurement tools in place
How will you know when you have achieved the organizational culture you desire? Or, at the very least, that you’re moving in the right direction?
It’s incredibly important to monitor and measure your actions, and to have some basic benchmarks in place to let you know when you’re really advancing.
Before trying to change your organizational culture, ask yourself exactly how you’re going to track it.
You don’t have two-way communication channels in place
As you embark on a change to your organizational culture, it’s imperative to communicate a vision to your team.
But it’s not enough to have one-sided communication; you also need to have channels in place to get feedback and to keep your employees engaged. They need to know that they, too, have a say in shaping your new organizational culture.
Two-way communication is foundational for any kind of lasting, meaningful cultural change.
Let’s Talk About it…
These are just a few of the hindrances that can stand between you and a meaningful cultural overhaul.
If you’re curious to learn more, or if you have any specific questions, I’d be thrilled to talk with you. Reach out any time you want to discuss the needs of your company culture.
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