Can organizational culture experience changes?

The importance of an organization’s culture increases from year to year. In the Global Culture Survey 2018 80% responders said their organization’s culture needs to change in the following years to succeed, grow and retain talents.

Organization’s culture can be changed consciously and unconsciously. A deliberate change can be managed by organization’s leaders and come as an official decision, and the change can be proposed by new ways of working. External circumstances like changes in the market, global economic conditions and employees’ national culture can impact an organization’s culture too.

A study conducted by Korn Ferry reveals that mayor causes for organizational culture’s changes are: new CEO, merger or acquisition processes, a seperation from a parent company, change of customer requirements, disruptive change in the market, globalization.

Changes managed by management

Michael Beer emphasizes that change of an organization’s culture should happen when the organization rethinks their strategic goals’ management and achievement.

More successful change process can be promoted with true interest, support and passion by organization’s leaders, human resources managers and chief people officers, found in research.

“The more leaders can share what a company values in its culture, the easier it’s going to be for the culture to become a reality.”

  • Lisa O’Keefe, Senior Advisor of Talent and Engineering Culture

Process of changes

Ajit Kambil at his work “Catalyzing organizational culture change” offers culture change steps;

  1. Diagnose, name, and validate the culture of the organization. Understanding the current culture
  2. Reframe the cultural narrative. The stories will be used to reframe beliefs.
  3. Role model and communicate cultural change. Employees have their eyes on managers and leaders.
  4. Reinforce a new belief system. For example by using engaging and effective storytelling.

It’s important to ask for employee feedback in these steps, show that leaders hear it and act on it.

Most often organizational culture is not rewritten dramatically, rather changed certain elements or supplemented with elements that help organization better function and reach goals. 

“Successful organizations renovate their culture, meaning they keep the values and traits that have made them successful, build upon them and recognize what they need to create to increase the value of the organization long-term”

Challenges in the big changes

The biggest challenge is the change of beliefs. They have been rooted into employees for years and they are not easy to change as words on papers. “If behaviours are changed, the mindsets will follow,” wrote Thomas Kyser.

Another challenge is leadership participation and the powerful strategy behind the changes.

Also employees’ engagement and their confidence in leaders are important in the process of culture change.

Summary

The change of an organization’s culture is not rare in the business life cycle. The change can be promoted by external and internal transformations and aspects.

The process should be led by CEO, managers, their supporting and role modeling behaviour and communication. Organizational culture changes benefit in recruiting and retention advantages, improved customer service, smoother communication flow, improved workplace safety, more meaningful meetings and bottom line rising higher, according to Joanne Trotta.

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