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Influencing Culture

In the fall of 2017, I wrote a multi-week-long blog (October 3, 2017, to November 14, 2017) on company culture. The premise of that blog series was to intentionally change your company culture to reflect characteristics that lead to success.

The last of this series was a blog on maintaining your company culture once you have changed it to be what you want. My question today is a continuation of that thought, how can you work to subtly influence your company culture to keep it on track for success?

Culture Changes

The difference between changing your company culture versus influencing your company culture is scale.

Working to change a company culture is starting from a culture that is broken and in need of a new culture.

Influencing a company culture is starting with a functioning company culture and working to make subtle changes to that culture to bring it in line with the ever-changing business model of the organization and the desires of the employees.

Influencing Company Culture

There are many reasons to influence your company’s culture. Business models, technology, and personnel changes all have an impact on culture. Left unchecked, these change in culture could be at odds with the mission of your business. By monitoring your culture and subtly influencing it, you can keep your culture and your company goals in line.

Probably the most common need to influence company culture is when your company is growing. As you grow, the composition of your staff changes. When you were a small company, everyone’s accountability was obvious. You did what was needed and were aware of what everyone else was doing.

Now that you are a larger company, corporate accountability needs to more defined, and everyone knows it, but cannot independently do anything about it. It is up to you as the company leader to influence this change.

How to Influence Company Culture

Conceptually, the method to influence culture change is to plant seeds of ideas for the direction you feel the culture should grow. As your staff recognizes these seeds, the culture change becomes organic. Your staff makes the needed changes with little overt direction from you. They then have a vested interest in the new culture since they were part of creating it.

More specifically, culture is influenced by these steps.

  1. Leadership accountability – you, as the company leader, personify the changes you want: you make it obvious that you are living the new culture. You become a model of the new behavior.
  2. Establish a purpose – the purpose for the change needs to be clear to all the employees; they understand the needed new culture and want to implement it.
  3. Expectations – suggest expectations for all employees. As the staff sees that the suggested expectations are needed to make the culture change, the staff will gradually incorporate new behaviors that will cause the overall culture change.
  4. Corporate accountability – once the staff begins to embody the new culture, codify this new culture by declaring it in writing and begin using it corporately.
The Bible

At the heart of the Bible is the need to influence culture. God chose leaders such as Abraham and Moses in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament to change their behaviors so that by example they could influence an entire generation’s culture.

The same is true today. God is looking for business leaders to influence their company’s culture. As we look to influencer culture, we need to look to the Bible to make sure the values we are building our new culture around are biblical.

1 Timothy 4:12 says.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.

The Christian influence on business culture is to influence its direction in line with the teachings of the Bible.

As business leaders, we need to remember that our company’s culture is constantly changing, just as our business is constantly changing. We can have a tremendous influence on the direction of that changing the culture. And the easiest way to do that is to make sure it is biblically based.