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Culture is your Strategic Enabler

Culture defines the future!

Culture is the secret to innovating, surviving and growing in these super volatile and uncertain times. It evolves every day. As a business, your success and growth (read future) are determined by the culture you create. Are you shaping your future right?

Culture is never an isolated phenomenon.

“Culture is the sum total of behaviors and interactions amongst individuals, teams and groups of people. You observe it as a set of patterns in your day-to-day life.”

Changing Culture is hard (more so in an epidemic era)

There is ample research and content on how having the right culture can shift a company’s performance. The new age companies and start-ups have promoted a shorthand approach by providing cozy office space, free food and other perks that are usually aimed at keeping employees happy. Many enterprises have adopted a similar approach to create an open office, collaboration space settings and perks – however, the results are only short term and do not cater to the spectrum of personas available in an enterprise. Such tricks only work for the short term and don’t translate into the real things.

Almost a third of leaders say they’re struggling in getting their org culture right. With the COVID-19 epidemic in play, getting the culture right in a remote setting has transcended this struggle multifold. The balancing act of work, life and surrounding uncertainty are not easy. Apart from the constant fear of getting infected, the surrounding events, lockdowns, travel restrictions, continuous fatigue of live online meetings and restricted movements – cause physical, mental and emotional fatigue. It is extremely critical for leaders to dedicate their energies to doing a full health checks on their culture.

Culture is more than any policy or procedure, it guides every decision made, behavior and action taken by the organization’s employees, partners and providers. It is the unspoken ways of working, it determines what people do when no one is telling them what to do. Culture lives in people’s unconscious beliefs. These beliefs are formed using many assumptions, underlying knowledge and traditions etc. This makes changing culture seriously hard.

Any cultural change, therefore, requires you to first help people to understand what these unconscious beliefs are and then reframe and align them to a new value system.

Simplifying how we depict “culture”

There are many fancy diagrams with many different circles and shapes to depict the ingredients of “culture”. We believe in a simplistic representation to depict behaviors and interactions. That’s what culture means to us. With the hybrid work scenarios, the workplace and family is also an integral part of the organisation’s culture.

5 Key Steps to cultural transformation

Cultural change whilst hard, is not impossible. There are public examples of organizations (e.g. Microsoft, HubSpot, Salesforce, Southwest Airlines, etc.) that shifted their culture to reinvent themselves.

Over the years, working with senior executives & diverse organizations, and through our research, we have identified key success factors for implementing a cultural change. These success factors are as follows:

1. The CEO and Board must champion the culture change

People at all levels may recognize the need for cultural change, but unless the CEO and Board believe their personal success is linked to culture change, it won’t happen. Culture change almost always requires the CEO and Board to change and if they’re not fully committed, the wider change won’t stick.

2. Invite everyone to join the change journey

Cultural changes are neither top-down nor bottom-up. If you are thinking to do an offsite or workshop with senior leaders to define what the culture of the company will be, you’re planning for a disaster. It is important to get the buy-in and support from CEO and board, but it is critical to co-create the culture with the employees and partners. One of the strategies to make this possible is to create awareness and invite feedback on what we should change and what we shouldn’t. Getting people’s buy-in is as critical as getting the leadership’s buy-in.

3. Define the new value system and stories

Once you have a good idea of your current culture and the things you want to change, the next step is to define your new value system. The new core values need to be illustrated using stories and symbols that is easy to understand and adopt.

4. Identify and team up with Culture Ambassadors

Once you have a good idea of your current culture and the things you want to change, the next step is to identify key influencers and energizers. These people should be aligned on your cultural reinvention agenda. These are the people everyone turns to for questions, people often reach out to them and they have the answers to questions people usually ask. You will also know the “inhibitors” who are not willing to go along and you need a way to manage them to avoid disruptions down the line.

5. Embed and sustain the new value system

This is the make-or-break stage of your cultural reinvention. The new value system needs to be embedded at every step of the employee experience. These core values should be integrated into partner engagements and should be visible in your customer experience. These values are your guiding lights for every transaction, activity and communication. Continuous reinforcement of these values through education, events and experiential learning should be a non-negotiable item on every leader’s agenda. Last but not the least, leadership education on new ways of working, psychological safety and pragmatic leadership should be done on a regular basis.

How we can help?

Culture starts with people. When your people fully understand the need for change and the mechanics to make it happen, a strong culture isn’t far behind.

At Massivue, we inspire people to adapt and excel in a continuous learning environment. Our structured cultural transformation model combines cultural diagnostic, innovation approaches to an invitation for co-creation and a systemic roadmap to sustainable rollout.m

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