Behavioral Choices That Change Company Culture

In a 2010 Ipsos Public Affairs-Randstad survey, 66% of working adults surveyed said they believe company culture is very or extremely important to the success of their organization.  Yet “fixing” or improving their corporate culture remains a significant challenge to most organizations.  As leaders in an organization, there are small, consistent adjustments you can make to foster a healthy and happy work environment. Changing Company CultureAs discussed in my last post, these steps include increasing productive interactions, rewarding specific cultural behaviors and leading the cultural change by daily example.

These behavioral changes can be a catalyst to a more positive company culture, provided they are carefully chosen, consistently practiced and continuously communicated.

Choosing Carefully

Unfortunately, cultural redesign is often mistaken for implementing employee-of-the-month plaque ceremonies or pizza Fridays.  In reality, these are at best trimmings and at worst recognized as gratuitous events to mask poor leadership. However, a leader who consciously chooses to spend 15 minutes each day walking the floor of the business and engaging at least 5 different employees in a conversation will see short term gains in trust and improved communication. Over time, this small habit will reinforce leadership accessibility and enable cross-pollination of ideas from one department to another. Leaders of an organization have a responsibility to invest their own time and values in the people and processes that positively impact culture. Choosing meaningful activities ensures that the organization truly benefits from the time spent.

“Engaging the hearts, minds, and hands of talent is the most sustainable source of competitive advantage.” Greg Harris, Quantum Workplace

Practicing Consistently

The benefits of a 15-minute daily walkabout only affect the culture if they are done regularly.  Leaders can think of this exercise as not only contributing to an open and connected culture, but also as a tactic for building their own brand. If staff is exposed to a leader walking the floors and having short but meaningful conversations with employees every day, they will pick up on the patterned activity and soon they will come to expect the behavior just as they would any other daily routine. Their beliefs about an open and connected culture will be based on fact - the frequency of what they’ve observed and participated in. Recency bias may also accelerate this belief.

Communicating Authentically

Even the best actions can be counteracted with a lapse into inauthentic or rote corporate cheerleading. Another PowerPoint presentation or cover piece in the quarterly newsletter which manufactures excitement or spin about a company’s greatness is the last thing any employee needs. As leaders, vote with your feet and do the right things. Communicate through your actions and behaviors. How? Commend a job well done in person (another topic for those walkabouts!).  And in general examine your own speech – and listening – habits.  Do they reflect the culture you’re trying to foster?  If not, make the changes necessary to lead by example. You set the tone for the organization, so day-to-day verbal cues will set the corporate tone far more than silently dropping off a box of donuts and saying nothing.

The impact of positive behavioral change on company culture is as persuasive, pervasive and permanent as making strategic or procedural changes to corporate policy.  If you put in the time, care and thought, your daily behavior can be the catalyst for that positive change.

Gretchen Hover is the managing principal of Imbue Partners, LLC. Imbue Partners is an SBA-certified Woman Owned Small Business; a management consultancy that collaborates with clients to drive profitable and sustainable growth through strategic planning, organizational capability building and process improvement. Want to imbue your company with the culture to achieve marketing and sales excellence? Contact us at
[email protected]
or call + 1.978.887.9215.

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