We need to spend a lot of time to work out what is meant by culture and what should a good culture look like.
Truth: Most Companies have ample material available from their own experience – both from the things they are happy they are handling well and from the things they know they want and need to handle differently and better. If they are stuck, they can ask some people, their own people!
Myth Nr. 2:
We need to take time for this and go back to basics, a clean sheet and start afresh to create the culture we want.
There is no need to act as if the Company were starting from zero, as more than likely there will be a strong basis of very good practices and systems in place on which to build the desired new culture. Nor will it be possible to erase history and experience which, instead, can be used to ensure the desired culture is real and believed.
Myth Nr. 3:
Agreeing a culture is never easy as people have different views and different values and so creating a culture will require a lot of hard work at the team level in order to get agreement.
Very often the individual members of the Senior Management Team, while differing on lots of things, will also have many shared values and so can quickly and easily build consensus on what they want and need the culture of the Company to be going forward.
Myth Nr. 4:
A change in culture needs to be well managed and is complex and so requires a comprehensive and well orchestrated Culture Change Programme – it needs to be run like a project with clear actions, deadlines and completion dates.
Cultures don’t change by diktat or plans and so turning a change in culture into a project will doom it to failure. Instead, it needs to be a definite, persistent, consistent and coherent fidelity to a new philosophy of management and leadership that is stuck to over a long period delivering gradual and continuous improvements and changes.
Myth Nr. 5:
Culture Change programmes need to be separate from the normal day-to-day work and activities so that it is given attention and does not get lost in the normal day-to-day work.
It is never wise and it never works to work on culture as something parallel to or removed from day to day management and leadership. Rather, it should be brought about, realised through how management behave and manage and lead. If it is not part of how things are done on a normal basis it will never really be integrated nor implemented.
Myth Nr. 6:
We need outside help and guidance to lead and drive the change in culture, people who have expertise in this area and can provide the required impetus and energy.
The energy to lead and drive the change in culture should not come from outside but from the alignment of energies, ideas, wishes and values of the members of the Senior Management Team.
Myth Nr. 7:
We will need a lot of training in how to handle things in a different and better way and we don’t have the skills in-house for something as complex and new as this, or on how to make it happen.
While management do need to have the skills to manage in line with their values, the need to change attitudes and behaviours throughout the organization should not be handed over to an outside agency but will be better brought about through internal training, example and practice. The Senior Management Team and others managers need to believe in and trust themselves, their experiences and wisdom.
Myth Nr. 8:
The first thing we need before we get going is a clear plan of action with all of the things we need to do and change, with clearly identified responsibilities and timescales on the various initiatives.
It is not possible nor wise to build a clear or detailed plan on how to bring about a change in culture but rather to be clear about what culture one desires or needs and then work towards that steadily and making use of the normal on-going day-to-day challenges and longer term needs of the Company. Cultures come into being through behaviours and the management of everyday life and not through design and orchestration.
Myth Nr. 9:
We will not change the culture easily. It is going to involve a huge effort and some pain and it will take a very long time.
Bringing about a culture change need not be at all a long and arduous road. With clarity, simplicity, persistence and some guidance, it can be easy, comfortable natural and enjoy many quick wins.
Myth Nr. 10:
There is bound to be resistance and conflict and we need to be ready for some resistance and problems.
Yes, bringing about a change in culture is not always all about nice things or just being nice to people. It can involve some growing pains that demand real courage, conviction and leadership on the part of management but with these there is nothing to fear.