Improving Organizational Culture Can Be Challenging

Improving or changing the organizational culture at the workplace can be one of the most difficult challenges for its leaders. Within the company culture are assumptions, attitudes, communication practices, goals, processes, roles and values. These elements are all interlocked and many times will prevent any “single fix” changes that leadership may bring to the table. Even when new processes are introduced, such as bringing in a new team to the organization, they may appear to be working for a while, but those interlocked elements ultimately preserve the existing organization culture – against change.

The likelihood of improving organizational culture will be more successful if all organizational tools for changing the attitudes and perceptions of its employees are properly employed. Company leaders would be wise to set a new vision in motion beginning with leadership tools, one being a story of the future. Getting the change in place means utilizing management tools including definitions of roles, measurement and control systems as the power tools of coercion and punishment, when all else fails.

How do we identify bad/negative culture?

A negative organizational culture can be characterized by animosity, fear, intimidation and laziness. This isn’t limited to the employees. This applies to all members of the organization, including management and executive.

What is the impact of negative culture?

Sometimes, organizational cultures can become dominant and both employee and employer can discard good ideas that might counter the culture already in place. The competitive edge can be lost if companies do not adapt to changes in the market and a more open and flexible culture.

Change Management’s Mindset

Improving organization culture is not only change management, but it is a reformation of the entire company. The culture itself can oftentimes make it hard for employees to do business with other companies. Even if an employee leaves the company, that same impact can still affect that person. Imposing the old culture into an environment that has changed can also affect the company’s image to an outsider as an unwillingness to improve. That’s when bad company culture can seep into an employee’s personal life, impacting the way the employee interacts with family. Sadly, many employees who become a part of an organizational culture for years and years can even lose their own identities. Their lives can become work centered and the employee may not even realize the bad habits they have assimilated into their own lives.

These organizational cultures form for a reason. Maybe the founder’s comfort zone is in the current culture matches for that particular company. When the change management style of a company prevails, the company culture usually matches it. The company is further reinforced when managers hire people just like themselves.

As people tend to grow comfortable with the company culture that is already in place, it usually requires a significant event to happen in order for change to occur. Improving organizational culture can be a tough journey. If the culture is the culprit, then steps must be taken to improve it. Change occurs when people in the organization realize that the current culture needs to be transformed. Change is also not easy.

The good news is that organizational change is possible. Three steps that can help change an organizational culture include: understanding the current culture and that it needs to change, finding out where the organization wants to go, and finally employees must decide to change their behavior in order to create the desired organizational culture improvement.

Success can only be found with all the organizational elements working together for change. The shaping of an organizational culture can only be done after the destructive initiatives are already removed. Success will be sabotaged if those destructive initiatives are still present, like an ever growing cancer.

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