If you want to improve the culture of your organization, you might be wondering where to start and what to do. Culture is not something that can be changed overnight, but it can be influenced and shaped by your actions and decisions. Here are some tips to take the first few little steps in order to contribute to that end. You can view our previous blog on the same topic here.
First you need to get a better understanding. Have a genuinely anonymous survey or generally ask for feedback at the workplace. A lot of people will still be hesitant to reach out, which means you also have to pick up on some cues while going about your day in your workplace, make sure to catch any negative behavioral habits. You cannot improve what you cannot measure, so it is important to get a clear picture of the current state of your culture.
Ask your employees how they feel about their work environment, their colleagues, their managers, their goals, and their challenges. Do not assume that you know everything about your culture, because you might be missing some crucial insights.
2. Develop a Plan
Based on the feedback you received, prioritize the most urgent and impactful issues, and set realistic and measurable objectives. Communicate your plan to your employees, and involve them in the implementation process. Make sure they understand the benefits of the changes, and how they can contribute to them.
People are generally hesitant to changes, so you might have to be really explicit about the advantages of what you are offering. One size fits all might not work, so you might, at times, wanna outline the advantages that are particularly of interest to some party.
Communicate clearly and frequently about the reasons for the change and the steps involved in the change process. Use different channels and formats to reach different coworkers and preferences. Constantly be on the lookout for any little bit of feedback, even hints. Even a single outcast can really change the dynamic. So, do not shy away from constructive conflict, as it can help you to challenge assumptions, explore alternatives, and find better solutions.
3. Express Your Values
Be outspoken about your values, defend them and try to understand the values of others, whose values conflict and which values everyone seems to share. Work towards building shared values. Values are the core of your culture, so they should be clear and consistent for everyone in your organization.
They should guide your decisions, behaviors, and interactions. Make sure your values are aligned with your vision and mission, and reflect what you stand for as an organization. In a sense communicating and acting on values lets your coworkers better understand how they should go about things as well. If a certain behavior is rewarded or expected, people are more likely to comport themselves in the according manner.
4. Mutual Trust & Understanding
Be soft on mistakes, lead by example, be very clear about responsibilities. Build psychological safety. Trust is especially important in the workplace. It is what refines collaboration, innovation, and performance.
But to build trust in your organization, you generally need to create a safe and supportive environment where people can express themselves freely, take reasonable risks, learn from mistakes, and grow. Plus if people share some core values, or are working towards the same fundamental values, they are more likely to trust each other, as they better understand what is to be expected of their coworkers. Yourself, you should be transparent about your expectations and feedback.
Encourage it and reward others in small ways for contributing to a better culture. By providing opportunities for training, coaching, mentoring, feedback, and self-directed learning. Recognize and reward your employees for their learning efforts and achievements, as well as for their contributions to a better culture. Show them that you value their development and their impact on the organization.
Provide criticism, too. Groups that rarely deal with criticism, struggle to perform, as they do not get to refine their values and work in the same way. Just be sure to do it in a respectful and considerate manner.