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Driving Change and Evolving a Positive Company Culture

Understanding and identifying behaviours in your organisation is a first step to driving change and evolving a positive company culture. If you are able to identify the resistance to change, these roadblocks can be removed with a smoother journey to success.

Gina Wilson, Organisational Development Leader from Ernst & Young, leads on large-scale transformational change projects that influence how employees are motivated by and affiliated with the organisation. To establish why their workforce may be resisting change they use the PTR method; preference, tradition and requirement.

  • Preference: What makes someone feel comfortable or secure. Familiarity.
  • Tradition: It has always been done that way. Why change something that is working?
  • Requirement: Does it have to be done this way? Legislative reasons?

Organisational change is inevitable with any growing organisation and remembering that your workforce is made up of individuals who will show different emotional and behaviour responses will assist in how barriers are tackled.

How leaders can support a viral culture change

A positive company culture is imperative to ongoing success and leaders will play a fundamental part in preparing for change. They need to demonstrate the behaviours that fit with future direction, driving varied values and attitudes within the organisation. This will support the barrier of resistance enabling growth and evolution.

Data from large organisations such as Google is showing that mindfulness programs are having a definite impact on leadership skills. Mindful leadership is a practice that allows a leader to be their best self in all aspects of leadership, inspiring greatness in others. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) states that “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”

The benefits to mindful leadership are that the leader will tend to be open, inclusive and a good listener. Leaders can easily be distracted with multiple responsibilities; however, they need to have an openness and be able to listen and engage on a daily basis.

We must remember that there are leaders at every level in an organisation, and their role will be constantly evolving. Leaders need to be much more humanistic now as we see a shift in the growing responsibility for wellbeing.

With the rise of technology, people have become even more accessible with employees looking to leaders around the clock. They are being watched by a broader spectrum of individuals and it may be that they are not seeing certain behaviours that they feel they should be. Leaders need to adjust to these evolutionary steps.

The part your workforce play in culture change

Your employees (and let’s not forget they are also your stakeholders) will want to know how they will benefit from any change. What’s in it for me?

Not everyone will be motivated by the same things and so by being clear on how to treat individuals, tapping into the heart, and not just the head, will support the long-term sustainability of your culture.

Organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is a person’s voluntary commitment within an organisation that is not part of their contractual tasks. An employee may often be referred to as ‘going above and beyond’, displaying actions or behaviour that is not required from their actual job role. Being aware of OCB, and why certain employees engage in OCB, will support your understanding of current and future culture.

Leading on from OCB are employees who are engaged and motivated by change, and willing to share this enthusiasm. Not indifferent to the role of the change agent. Change agents are leaders who understand change, establish how it will affect a team and communicate the information successfully to everyone.

Anyone can be a change agent, be it a supporter of the good, or a challenger of the bad, in every interaction they face. According to Investors in People, there are six things a change agent will do;

  1. Know the benefits the changes will bring
  2. Stay in touch with the human side of change
  3. Balance emotional intelligence with a relentless focus on the bottom line
  4. Embody change
  5. Open up processes
  6. Remember what’s great about the business already.

Although a change agent is normally a dedicated role, it could also be an individual who promotes and supports a change in an organisation.

If you are getting this right, then the culture is really owned and driven by every single person’s behaviour. Culture change is evolutionary, not revolutionary.

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