When Changing Your Culture, Clearly Communicate That Change is Coming – Blueprint Action #7

To kick off a successful culture renovation, its critical to be clear on what the new culture initiative seeks to change, what the future looks like, why the culture change is so vital to the success of the business now and looking ahead, and why anyone should care.

And that message should come from the CEO. Almost 80% of companies that have had successful renovation did so with the CEO as the lead architect.

In communicating the culture change, it’s also important to articulate the purpose of the organization (whether new, old, or renovated). For that purpose to take hold, it needs to resonate and make sense to the workforce, and preferably be pithy so that it can be remembered and recited without having to refer to a PowerPoint slide or something posted on a wall. The purpose needs to be instilled with the renovation spirit: expressing a genuine respect for the past while building for the future.

The message should also be clear on the elements of culture that the organization is seeking. Over a quarter of companies that were unsuccessful in renovating their cultures told us that in hindsight, it was lack of clarity about the type of culture desired that resulted in failure.

Another reason messages of change often fail to resonate is because they spend too much time harping on the past. While you can’t ignore past mistakes, it’s important to realize many in the workforce were part of those mistakes. Talking too much about them runs the risk of alienating large portions of the employee population before a renovation ever gets off the ground.

Instead, spend the time focusing on the future. Architects of successful renovation primarily communicate a customer-oriented focus and the importance of shifting or disrupting their markets to better serve their customers as the primary driver for change. They don’t dwell on poor past financial performance, low employee engagement, public relation issues, scandals, competitive threats, or other common reasons that spark a renovation. Instead, they strike a tone of “Here’s where we envision us in the future” versus “We’ve had a lot of problems, so something needs to change.”

As we emerge from the challenges and dark days of the pandemic, spend time helping people see a brighter future. The north star that is set will be a much more positive vision for the workforce to focus on.

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