As a company grows and adapts to the dynamics of the business world, changes are bound to happen. There will be new hires and fires, leaders will leave and new ones will come, the business can go through a more life-changing event such as an acquisition or an IPO among other changes. You might have to adjust your business culture because of that.
Amidst the changes, however, company leaders should be careful not to lose sight of the company culture. That is the positive atmosphere, behaviors and values of the organization. Sure, changes can literally shake up an organization while other changes can be downright painful to bear. Nevertheless, how do you ensure that they leave the company culture unscathed?
Here are a few ways to do that.
1. Communicate clearly
Being transparent and open about a change can build trust between the company and the employees. That way, employees will remain engaged and committed to productivity throughout the transition period.
For instance, if a company wants to ditch the traditional office for remote setup, it can gain so much by keeping employees informed of every decision throughout the process. An individual living in Denver will most likely be required to work in a coworking space in Denver from time to time. It might seem overwhelming for someone who is used to a traditional office, but they stand to gain a lot from the new arrangement. Talk of attaining an improved work-life balance and the freedom to curve their own schedule. Informing him or her of how he or she stands to benefit by working remotely will hasten the acceptance of the change.
In addition, being open on the likely challenges and the assurance of your support will go a long way in enhancing company values and commitment to efficiency.
2. Train new entries to the company
As a company diversifies and triples in terms of human capital, it can be easy to overlook the company culture with new hires during the onboarding process.
This can slowly dilute the company culture to a point of non-existence.
Start the efforts of preserving the culture from the early stages of hiring. For instance, ask questions based on your company culture during the interview. Seek to find how candidates act with colleagues. Talk about your company culture with them and see what they think about the various aspects. All these efforts will help you find a candidate that fits well with the company culture.
After they pass the interview, it is important to train new hires on the company culture. Create a great team with easy training modules to ensure that every new employee is immersed in the company values and behaviors. The current employees should also be trained on embracing diversity. That way, new and old talents will not collide, but will understand that diversity only strengthens the culture.
3. Promote from within
Still on adding new talents, a change can take an exit of a leader or a person holding a higher position.
Rather than bringing in a new person, it would be good for the company culture to promote from within. The potential candidates are obviously immersed in the culture and they are the perfect individuals to maintain it.
Furthermore, promoting from within should be a generational behavior meant to maintain a company’s culture. Embracing this creates sustainability and builds protection over the company culture for future generations.
4. Listen to employees’ recommendations
The truth is that the employees are the people who will be actively involved in effecting the changes. It only makes sense that their contributions be heard. The best way to get employee feedback is through surveys. The risk to the company culture comes when the managers fail to involve the employees in making final decisions.
Ensure that the employees get a chance to comment on their recommendations. Hold meetings to discuss their feedback and encourage them to speak their minds. In addition, seek to tackle all the anxiety and concerns that they may have. All these can make employees feel valued which contributes to employee engagement, commitment and productivity.
5. Integrate two company cultures seamlessly
A change can be a global expansion, which can mean bringing two companies from different regions together. Coming from different cultural norms, integrating the two company cultures can be a very tricky process.
However, it can easily be absorbed as follows:
• Employ a plan to gradually introduce the elements, processes and expectations of the acquired company.
• Just as the integration of other processes, ensure that you closely monitor the company culture integration.
• Seek to clearly understand the cultural norms held dearly by the acquired company. That way, you will have a clear understanding of which ones can fit to your company culture and those that can’t.
• Carefully and delicately transition the elements that can’t fit to align with the acquiring company culture.
• Avoid micromanaging the acquired company. For a company built on innovation as part of the culture, micromanaging can easily destroy the teams’ enthusiasm to innovate. In addition, being on their necks all the time can easily hinder growth of new relationships with the employees from the acquired company.
6. Give employees time to process
You have probably held hundreds of meetings with executives and top managers before coming up with a good change strategy. By the time you are rolling it out to the rest of the organization, the management has already come to terms with the proposed changes.
How about the employees? Most organizations expect that they get on board with the changes almost immediately. This is what puts a company culture at risk during a transition. While there are people who are able to process change quickly, there are others who need time to do the same. Not giving the latter enough time can greatly affect their performance and engagement.
Even as a company introduces change, it is important to keep in mind the feelings of the employees. Avoid forcing abrupt changes and have a window for mistakes until everyone gets on board. In addition, help your employees accept change much faster by training them on having a positive mindset. No matter how much the change has affected them individually, thinking positively can surely breed a positive attitude towards the change and help them on board much quicker.
7. Make efforts to preserve what matters the most
A lot is at stake when the change involves downsizing or cutting back on the budget. Things like training programs for employees, team building activities and rewards and recognition programs appear like the easier things to sacrifice.
However, these are things that affect employee engagement and company culture to a greater deal. Take for example, team-building activities, these enhance workplace relationships and teamwork among employees. Rewards and recognition programs show that a company values great performances and motivates others to work hard. Training programs sharpen employees’ skills and improve productivity.
Rather than forgoing such at the expense of the company culture, it makes sense to think of creative ways to go around it. Yes, the monetary element can be eliminated if it is really necessary, but continuing with the activities can really preserve the company culture. For instance, praising an outstanding employee during a meeting costs no money, but goes a long way in maintaining the culture.
8. Don’t let go of the small things that hold you together
The flip side of cutting back, a change can mean diversifying, resulting in increased work and busy schedules. This can pose a risk to simple things that glued people together in the organizations. Having lunches together, celebrating each other’s life milestones or even asking about the welfare of the employees can easily be a thing of the past.
Even as a company diversifies, it is important to not lose sight of such things that glue the company culture together. If having company lunches weekly seems impossible, consider a bi-weekly or monthly routine. Make deliberate efforts to slot time to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries when they arise. No matter how busy the organization gets, efforts made towards maintaining such practices can really work magic in preserving the company culture.
9. Lead by example
When changes happen, employees more than ever have their eyes on the leaders to see if they are practicing what they preach.
For instance, if a company eliminates hierarchies and embraces a flat organization setup, employees need to see the management live up to this. There will be employees who might tend to test their newfound ‘authority’ with the leaders. Getting upset with such can only show that they aren’t ready to adhere to the new policy. Guiding such employees on what they want to achieve, on the other hand, communicates to the workforce that the leaders are authentic, sincere and intentional in leading by an example.
In addition to living as per what you preach, think of recognizing employees who are doing the same. Make them ambassadors of the company values for others to emulate. Moreover, that can go a long way to ensure that the company culture remains unaffected amidst the change.
Implementing Changes Without Affecting Business Culture
They say change is the only constant thing in the universe. Whether businesses ask for it or not, change is something they will have to deal with in the duration of the business. The bottom line is to always be careful not to lose what they have toiled for over the years.
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