HOW CAN LEADERS DRIVE CULTURAL ADOPTION?

by Amy Ransom

When teams are diverse, remote, and/or international, making a shift in corporate culture can be challenging. Ensuring that everyone in the organization is centered on the firm’s mission, vision, and values must remain central to achieve lasting change.

Communicate:

One of the most important factors to consider during a culture change is how the company shares the message. In a report by Deloitte, there is a high correlation between clearly articulated and lived ideals and strong business performance. When associates hear senior leadership communicate the company’s values and beliefs and then act in accordance with them, they feel happy and valued by their employer. When the messages from the C-Suite are inconsistent or not aligned to the culture, the impact can be significant, ranging from lack of trust to lack of performance.

The challenges facing global companies are significant when compared to smaller organizations. In an article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reviewing some of the complexities of facing global businesses, there will be some differences that could be unique to countries or cultures. “Multinationals can be consistent 80 percent of the time, and 20 percent may be different to comply with local culture, laws or habits.” Culture should be consistent to both employees as well as customers. To ensure a company’s values and mission are the same around the world, having local leadership dedicated to living the values must be a priority

Demonstrate:

From the executive team down, bounce each communication against the principles and values the company lives by. Are the words shared in a way that will build trust and support the corporate mission? Leaders who talk the talk must also walk the walk. Culture should be the driver behind what leaders do and the decisions they make. The adage, actions speak louder than words, applies to executives who live the corporate ideals so that others can see.

The expectations of managers have escalated over the last year and a half. It is not enough to demonstrate the corporate values; they must also steer their team toward living the culture. Are there individuals who need to adjust their sails and realign with the company’s values? If toxic behavior in a workplace is left unchecked, it can spread and be detrimental to the organization. With the right leadership and communication skills, a manager can remind their direct reports when their actions do not agree with the firm’s principles. Bringing an individual back to the culture is a way to establish that not living the values is unacceptable.

Encourage:

During formal and informal coaching sessions, a leader can point out how an individual’s role supports the corporate purpose and impacts their customers. People crave purpose in work. They want reassurance that what they are doing is making a difference. Connect individual performance to corporate success and learn together to overcome the difficulties.

Everyone can bring value to the entire organization. Invite employees to share ideas for improvement and encourage individuals to be open to new ideas that will support the company’s mission.

Recognize:

It isn’t just managers that are having to do more than ever before. In the last year, many companies had to furlough or lay off some of their workforces. In addition to doing their jobs, employees have had to step up to be SMEs for their teams, serve as liaisons with other parts of the company, or represent industry associations. Companies often lean heavily on these invaluable contributors to help onboard or cross-train new team members.

Individuals can be leaders without the title or paycheck of a manager. They are employees who demonstrate the characteristics of strong and respected leaders but do not officially manage others. These team members are great listeners, provide sound advice, and consistently work with integrity. Unofficial leaders are well respected, and others follow them because of the way they act. They should receive recognition for leading by example to bring value and support the corporate culture.

Connect:

Don’t forget to include the “human” side of interactions with direct reports. Individuals are pressed to do more while still to being isolated. Coaching sessions that do not begin and end with some personal connections can erode an employee’s positive feelings about their company and manager. They may feel their manager sees them as worker drones instead of valued contributors. The human side of a conversation should be authentic. Employees will see right through their manager if they feel that the line at the top of the meeting agenda says, “Ask how she’s doing.” Don’t be that manager.

Perpetual:

Building a positive corporate culture is work that never ends. When steps are deliberately taken to help employees clearly understand and feel more closely tied to the organization’s beliefs, behaviors, and purpose, success will follow. Leaders are responsible for establishing a great culture that draws in terrific talent, builds inclusivity, helps people feel valued, and keeps employees engaged.

Amy Ransom

With more than 15 years of experience in the field of performance improvement, Amy Ransom delivers a fresh perspective to every interaction. Her objective is to help business leaders identify and bridge organizational gaps in order to accelerate positive business impact. Amy is an Associate Vice President at PDG.

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