skip to main content

Changing Your Culture – Steps 1 & 2

Author’s note: this is part of a long blog series on corporate culture. Feel free to look back on previous blogs to explore previous material on evaluating, changing and establishing your corporate culture within the business context.

I see four overall steps to changing your current corporate culture.

The first is defining your new culture as described in the previous blog. You need to decide what your culture is going to be.

This is no time to be wishy-washy.

Are you going to be a hard working, nose to the grind stone, totally reliable in every aspect, get-er-done, highly compensated company or not? Are you going to be a community empathizing, volunteer opportunities, bring your business here because we care, flexible work schedule, enjoyable working environment or not? It’s impossible to be only part of any defined culture. You are either known as being reliable or not – there is not a “sort-of-reliable” category. Your company demonstrates an empathy toward your community or it doesn’t.

Committing halfway is the same as no commitment which is not part of any culture. Being all-in is the only way you get credit for that aspect as being part of your defined culture.

Second, the resulting definition of culture needs to become a list of values that define your organization.

This list of values, suggested to be a list of five to seven, is what you publish in your marketing materials, hang on the wall, or put on the plaque that you give to the employee of the year. Everyone who walks through your front door needs to see these values and be able to read them. If you can, work them into your letterhead and business cards.

If these are your values, you need to be unabashed about showing them, talking about them and living them. They need to be part of your employee evaluation system and your compensation agreements. To get your culture ingrained in your business, you must continually reinforce that culture.

Obviously just putting a list of values on the wall does not change any culture. But once these values are published and read by the public, you can be criticized for not living up to what you say. If you continue to not live up to your written values, then “not living up to values” will become your culture – and that is a culture you never want. So, don’t take publishing your values lightly.

There is no cookie cutter set of values that you need to have. Every business and industry has their own strong values. I would suggest, however, that you think to the future.

The millennial and x-gen generations are becoming known for valuing philanthropic attitudes that continually look not only to the communities they are in but across the continents to third-world countries. Our technology is forever changing and while our values should not change, they need to be portable through various platforms. A value of a commitment to employees is fantastic, until your industry advances to the point that you only need a quarter of the employees to get the same amount of work done.

Step three will be covered in the next blog.