I know you have the greatest of intentions and I am with you! But to be successful at implementing culture initiatives, one of the riskiest things we can do to our people is to come back from a conference or a planning meeting with a new blockbuster teambuilding idea or new book that will ‘fix the culture’. There have been major leadership and financial mistakes implementing culture change the wrong way. The key to changing the culture… is to first focus on the company strategy and what we are trying to achieve as a company. When the strategy, structure and culture are out of alignment, you will notice clear tension in the organization. How well would you rate the alignment of these areas in your company today?
STRATEGY – STRUCTURE – CULTURE. Establishing Method to your Madness.
Ok so you want to make sure your strategy is clear first. What next? To take a big step toward defining your strategy, start with the customer. Do you know what your customer is trying to accomplish? Ask these questions at your next team meeting: What problem are we are helping our customers solve? Where is our customer’s business headed and how can we help them get positioned to be successful? When you work on this together as a team and start to draft your agreed upon course, you are on your way to defining your strategy and where you want to go as a company. Once you nail this down, stay with it. Just like working with your team, you want to leverage the skills of your people and keep them focused where they can succeed. So to with your company – stay in the lane you have chosen to pursue. Too many companies diversify so much that they lose focus on what they are really good at and what customers love about them.
I do workshops on the Energy Bus (one of my favorite culture books). At a recent client, we utilized The Energy Bus principles to help us clarify the direction of the company, and to put the team in the frame of mind to go after that direction with a positive energy and positive attitude. So it starts with you, as the company leader, articulating the strategy of the company, and getting input and involvement from your team on that direction. From there it’s you getting involved as their leader and bringing your own personal passion and energy to the initiatives!
One inverted corollary to remember: If you changed strategy without changing culture, you changed nothing.