All of us want to protect ‘company culture’ during changing times. The conditions may be favourable or adverse for an organisation during such times. In order to discuss about it further, it is important to understand what is company culture first. In simple words, it is how the workforce and the management behave, think, communicate and work together. It is a reflection of both written and unwritten norms that people follow in a company.
Culture gets formed even if it is not deliberately established. It is something that people will naturally adapt to, and it may not be necessarily what is desired. If the leadership does not take any conscious actions towards forming and preserving it at the workplace during changes, the results can be disappointing. This makes it crucial to define a company culture based on values and keep reinforcing it on a strong foundation.
Hence, let us take a closer look at some of the actions an organization can take to preserve the company culture during changing times:
Define The Values
Values are the essential ingredients that serve as guidelines for day-to-day decisions and actions. When everybody agrees to the certain norms of the company, it influences how people act at their work. The values, as well as the vision and mission statement, should be reflected through all the types of decisions that are made. The formal communication inside the organisation must also adhere to it.
Values are something that organisations are really passionate about. Hence, these values need to be an integral part of an organisation. When there are right values that are highly respected, they become a part of the daily conduct of employees. If a company fails to implement it right, the culture that emerges after the changes may not align with what was intended.
The importance of company culture can be understood from the fact that it forms a skeleton for the way work and processes flows in an organisation. The people who work at various levels in the firm constantly keep on changing yet it stays the same and strong at its place. It needs to be protected during changes, which helps the company thrive through ups and downs.
Value drives productivity, profitability and creativity in the corporate sector. It is always based on core values. While going through a change, one needs to get a clear idea of what values matter moving forward and what are just words printed for formality. Even if some elements of it seem difficult to continue moving forward, the values can still stay the same. It can be somewhat flexible and new traditions can be formed to express the same old culture that the company is based on.
Keep The Change Curve In Mind
When management decides on strategic changes, it takes time to define the plan for implementing those changes. However, once the plan is ready, it is easy to assume that it will be implemented at the earliest. It may seem trivial when it has been in the process for a long time in the view of management. As for them, there is always plenty of time to get familiar with, question it, think about it and finally accept the right option.
While putting forward the changes for adaptation in a workforce, we must remember that there are three stages in the change curve: questioning, processing and finally accepting the change. When employees are not given enough time to adapt to new processes, it creates confusion. While some people may find it easy to implement, others may take more time and struggle with it. Instead of forcing the changes, let it slowly happen and be open to communication. Having a culture that encourages the participation of the employees in the desired strategy implementation.
Make It A Part Of Hiring & Induction
While hiring new members communicate company culture and seek their feedback. Make sure that the values of the organisation and the new candidate align. You can also design some screening processes based on an alignment.
When new joiners start to work, it is a period of massive changes and adaptation for both the new employee and the firm. The HR personnel should communicate the values and culture through induction. This initial period is when the new member observes and learns the functions. The way an employee is welcomed can also be modified to express these values and culture. When crucial aspects of culture and desired changes are presented right during this learning period, they are easily adapted.
Lead By Example
Whenever there is a change in an organisation, everybody must respect it. Expressing desired changes on paper is never enough. People accept it faster when they are led by an example. A good company culture example is when the leaders follow what they desire to be integrated into the workforce behaviour. When employees observe the changes in the conduct of their superiors, they understand what exactly is expected in implementation. The changes should flow from top to bottom in any firm. Those in managerial positions should be committed and empowered to integrate new initiatives.
When the changes are observed in the actions of leaders, they seem more authentic and sincere. It becomes easier for the subordinates to accept the same. They are less likely to question or doubt it. When culture is implemented through behaviour consistently by the entire workforce, it becomes an integral part of how they carry out their daily operations.
Maintain A Good Communication
Communication is very important when it comes to managing changes in corporate culture. Employees want to know what exactly are the changes and their effect on them. Make sure that enough information is shared to provide clarity. At the same time, be careful to not overload them with unnecessary details, which are likely to add confusion and overwhelm them.
Create and preserve a culture of open communication to get feedback from the staff about new changes. Be ready to clear any kind of confusion. Make sure that every employee feels comfortable to raise their concerns; make a suggestion and share any type of feedback about changes. It is not always feasible to implement every suggestion, but it still shows that their opinion is appreciated. This knowledge itself acts as a motivation to accept the change.
Be Flexible & Creative
When there are budget constraints, some parts of corporate culture that actually help employees to stay motivated and strive for growth can be seen as disposable. The programs like skill development, employee recognition and training are usually considered expensive.
While in some cases it is inevitable to cut down the expenses, it is important to preserve important features of the culture. For example, employee appreciation does not always require monetary rewards that add to expenses. Few honest words for appreciating and praising the work may have a similar impact. As values are expressed in different ways, the tiny cultural aspects of old traditions can be kept alive with a little twist. It is important to identify the essential elements of company culture and rituals. That will help the workforce to survive through the unstable time and give them the necessary support during the changes. Consider the perspective of employees and chose the strategy that will be acceptable and beneficial to the organisation.
A recognition program can be designed to adapt to new changes. It is not always easy to implement, and friction might happen. Hence, design a strategy with proper criteria. Set guidelines and rewards to help employees and inspire them towards the initiative. A change, when managed well can raise a company to new heights with the right organisational culture.
The organisation should decide on the values that they want to be integrated into the company culture. They are better communicated in actions than on paper. All of the policies, programs and strategies in the firm should reflect the core conduct of the organisation. When the company is going through massive changes, some aspects of organizational culture may change but the primary ingredients stay the same. Be creative and find new ways to add the same values and culture in different ways. Understand what is important for employees and what helps them to thrive. Give them enough time to adapt to the changes and stay open to any kind of communication. Some aspects of a company tradition might look silly and trivial, but they can be very important for the workforce. Hence, find ways to make the changes smooth and the implementation, gentle. Preserve the aspects of a company culture that provide strength to the organization.
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