The Advancing Leadership Blog

Manage Your Culture or it Will Manage You

Corporate culture can fundamentally determine the success or failure of a business – it decides if product quality is maintained or improved, if sales targets are met, if the workforce is efficient and cares about their work, if organizational goals and messages are shared, and if you can attract quality talent.

So this is why we brought you Jack Daly and Peggie Pelosi to present at Monday’s CEO Forum in Vancouver. We received some great feedback, and took the opportunity to have a quick chat with both of them after their presentations. The video of our discussion with Peggie Pelosi is now available here >, and Jack Daly’s is available here > 

And to keep you thinking about corporate culture, what it means in your organization and what you can do about it, here are some comments from a Soundview Live event presented by Roger Connors, author of Change the Culture, Change the Game: the breakthrough strategy for energizing your organization and creating accountability for results.

Soundview Live, 20 January 2011 – Roger Connors: Highlights

What culture is and what it can do

Culture is usually the last thing on a leader’s list that they use to fix a problem or optimize performance. They try everything else and then culture becomes the last step in the process, but it really should be the first. You know, it’s really simple. The premise is really clear. Either you will manage your culture or it will manage you. It will be one of those two things. And what we find in the process of culture change is that, simply stated, it’s always working. Culture never takes a break, it doesn’t take a holiday, it doesn’t go on vacation, it never gets fixed. It is 24/7 working and it is either working for you or its working against you. The question is, “Is your culture working for you today?” Is it causing people to think and act in the way they need to think and act in order to achieve the difficult results you’re working to accomplish?

Have you ever been involved in a restructure of an organization or implemented a new process or new standard operating procedures and have seen them failed. Well, why is that? Because the underlying beliefs that people hold haven’t changed. They haven’t been able to really fundamentally change the way they feel and the way they think about things. So when you change the beliefs and the experiences of an organization, you accelerate the process of change. And that process of change can be quite significant in terms of what people do. So if you see in your own culture, and really focus on what people do rather than what they think, you know, there’s an opportunity.

The value of accountability to key results

People at every level can link what they do on a daily basis with key results. That’s cultural. Creating a culture of accountability directly answers this question. When you change the culture and can cause everyone to connect what they do on a daily basis to the key results, you’ve created a culture of accountability where people can think and act in a manner necessary to achieve organization results.

You know, the fatal mistake that we make as leaders is we don’t create accountability for clearly defined […] results and the cultural beliefs we need to have. So creating accountability for the culture that we need to have begins by establishing a clear statement of the cultural belief. And then you utilize these four tools that I’m going to show you here today that we talk about in “Change the Culture, Change the Game” and make those beliefs live.

Tools to change your culture

Those tools are, first, the steps to accountability. The tool is creating a sense of personal accountability where people internalize the culture, not externalize it. You know, in any change process, when you take a change process to the organization, what people tend to do is they externalize this. They’ll say, “Oh, that’s a great idea and as soon as the marketing gets on board with that we’ll be at better play.” And so that externalization really gets in the way of speeding up the change process. So what you need to do is create a real sense of accountability. The second tool we’re going to introduce in here is what we call focused feedback. I’ll talk more about that in a minute. The third tool is the one that I think is really important to the whole process, that’s the focused storytelling, just like I talked to you about a moment ago. And finally the fourth tool is focused recognition. These four culture management tools when leadership teams and the management teams adopt these with a high level of confidence in their ability to execute combined with the cultural beliefs and a clear [set of results you need to achieve] becomes the roadmap for accelerating culture change.

For the complete transcript or access to the recorded webinar, you can visit the Soundview Live event archive page.

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