Let’s start off with a definition of culture. A work culture is a self-sustaining pattern of behaviour that basically tells you how things are done within an organisation. And so these things are constantly self renewing, and they’re slowly evolving. And what you can’t do is to come into an organisation and say, “You guys are doing these things all wrong. I would like you to do things this way, I’m going to slap my values on the wall and tell you all these messages. And if you just change how you think, then everything will be different and everything will be better.”
To seed change you focus on behaviour, not beliefs. What happens is that you act in a way that then changes your mindset rather than the other way around. So, by changing small key behaviours and how you do things, then as you start to see the benefit of these changes, bigger shifts start taking taking place in terms of how people think and believe in that organisation.
It’s all based upon small changes in behaviour.
But does this mean that when we are trying to change organisational cultures that this will inevitably be a slow process?
Not necessarily. It depends on who’s taking those first steps in behaviour change.
If you can identify key leaders, key influencers within your organisation, and they are demonstrably physically and publicly making those changes in their behaviour and people look at them as leaders within the organisation, then this helps to accelerate change. And don’t confuse that with people who have authority. To seed and accelerate the adoption of new behaviours, you are looking for the influencers that people respect – the people who they are connected with. If these ‘Connectors’ start making these changes, then you would be surprised how rapidly that behaviour change starts to take root within an organisation.
The fundamental mistake in making organisational change is that people talk a lot and they don’t necessarily follow the talk with the action.
It’s the action that people pay attention to.
This blog was built from a conversation between myself and the wonderful James Nokise. Check out this link to hear that conversation.