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4 Tactics For Scaling Culture Change

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Start At The top And Engage Employees Early

Culture change is a challenging and complex process that requires a concerted effort from all members of an organization. The process involves transforming the beliefs, values, and behaviors that drive decision-making, communication, and collaboration within an organization. This article offers four tactics and supporting insights to help Learning and Development leaders and their organizations scale culture change effectively. These tactics include starting culture change at the top, engaging and empowering employees, establishing a culture of continuous learning, measuring progress, and celebrating outcomes.

4 Strategies To Scale Culture Change

Culture Change Starts At the Top

The first step in scaling culture change is to recognize that it starts at the top. Leaders play a critical role in shaping organizational culture. However, as Brian Walker and Sarah Soule discuss in their HBR article [1], “Changing company culture requires a movement, not a mandate,” leaders cannot “legislate” culture change; they must lead by example, foster the culture change, and allow it to grow organically. In leading by example, they must model the desired behaviors and communicate the importance of the culture change to all members of the organization. In addition, leaders must create a shared vision and establish clear goals and objectives that align with the desired culture. Leaders must also empower their teams and provide the necessary resources, training, and support to achieve the desired culture change. This requires a long-term commitment and consistent effort from leaders to ensure that the culture change becomes ingrained in the organization’s DNA.

Engage And Empower Employees

Scaling culture change requires engaging and empowering employees at all levels of the organization. Employees are the backbone of any organization and must be involved in the culture change process. Leaders must listen to employees’ feedback, concerns, and suggestions and involve them in decision-making processes that impact the culture. According to a seminal HBR article [2] by Katzenbach, Steffen, and Kronley, it’s hard to empower employees in order for them to embrace and demonstrate the behaviors needed for culture change. It is essential to select a few critical shifts in behavior and foster and cultivate those. To do so, leaders must provide employees with the necessary skills, learning experiences, tools, and resources to embrace the culture and take ownership of the change. Leaders can involve employees in the change process by soliciting their input, providing training and development opportunities, and recognizing their contributions. For example, in 2021, McDonald’s introduced a training program called “TodaysWomanNow,” which offers development opportunities for female employees to prepare them for leadership roles. Another example is Salesforce, which launched an initiative called “Belonging Together,” which involved employee-led conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Such initiatives provide employees with a sense of ownership and purpose, making them more invested in the culture change process.

Establish A Culture Of Lifelong Learning

Creating a culture of lifelong learning is essential for scaling culture change. According to his HBR article [3], Marc Zao Sanders posits that nowadays, lifelong learning is an economic imperative, which means that leaders must be deliberate in fostering a culture of learning in their organizations. Fostering a culture of lifelong learning involves creating a learning environment where employees are encouraged to learn, experiment, fail, grow, and continuously develop their skills and knowledge. Research by the Pew Trust [4] shows that 56% of adult professionals say that ongoing learning is essential. Leaders must provide opportunities for learning and development, such as workshops, training programs, peer-to-peer learning, coaching, and mentoring.

Additionally, leaders must demonstrate and encourage a growth mindset [5] and foster a culture of experimentation to spur and drive innovation. This requires embracing failure as a learning opportunity and encouraging employees to take risks and try new things. By doing so, employees will feel empowered to take ownership of the culture change and become champions of the new culture.

Measure Progress

Scaling culture change requires measuring progress and celebrating success. Leaders must establish clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the organization’s progress toward the desired culture. This includes measuring the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), employee engagement, and retention rates, as well as other metrics that demonstrate the impact of the culture change on the organization’s performance. One of the most commonly used methods for measuring culture change is surveys and interviews. Surveys can be designed to collect quantitative data on employees’ perceptions of organizational cultures, such as attitudes, values, and behaviors, before and after implementing a change initiative. Similarly, interviews can be conducted with employees to gain more in-depth qualitative insights into their experiences and perspectives on the culture change process. An excellent way to track culture is by conducting “stay interviews,” [6] the opposite of “leave interviews,” which are considered too late in the employee journey. Another way to measure culture change is by reviewing employee feedback online and tracking the rate of internal applications and promotions.

Celebrate Successes

With credible data in hand, leaders must also celebrate successes and recognize “good failures” in the culture change journey of their organization. Cultural change is hard work. It is important to recognize and reward the contributions of employees who have helped to drive and maintain the momentum in the culture change journey. This includes acknowledging the challenges and obstacles that were overcome and recognizing the milestones that have been achieved. With the recent culture shift to foster Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategies, several organizations created programs to recognize employees who stepped forward to drive the culture change. Microsoft [7] launched a recognition program that rewarded employees who demonstrated inclusive behaviors and promoted diversity in their teams. Several organizations have embraced the interdependence between employee recognition, employee well-being, and company culture and celebrate it often, like Patagonia [8], which organizes company-wide celebrations that include yoga classes, meditation sessions, and a healthy food festival.

Conclusion

Scaling culture change is a challenging process that requires a long-term commitment and consistent effort from leaders and employees at all levels of the organization. Organizations can effectively scale culture change by starting at the top, engaging and empowering employees, establishing a culture of continuous learning, measuring progress, and celebrating success.

References:

[1] Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate

[2] Cultural Change That Sticks

[3] Identify – and Hire – Lifelong Learners

[4] Americans and Lifetime Learning in the Knowledge Age

[5] Innovation Blueprint: Cultivating An Innovation Mindset

[6] 7 reasons why stay interviews drive employee retention

[7] Diversity And Inclusion Report

[8] Inside Patagonia’s Corporate Culture That Prioritizes Flexibility and Work-Life Balance



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