Concluding our “culture” theme, our Partners in Improvement groups discussed this subject during one of or recent sessions, and specifically focused on ways to change, support and sustain a culture that is aligned with a new strategic direction.
While peer pressure was identified as one component of helping people try to assimilate to the group they are in, the interchange was primarily geared toward how organizations can take more formal steps to sustain this important ingredient to success.
For example, sustaining the culture may include hiring people with values that are consistent with the culture. Some organizations try to identify these people through focusing on values in the interview process or using psychological profiles to identify people who would be likely to embrace the culture and those whose values would push them in a different direction.
Some organizations use publications and meetings to celebrate, reward, and reinforce examples of the culture in action. Others design measurement systems to support and reinforce the culture and behaviors they want to see.
For example, one of our Partners, in a successful attempt to build a culture of continuous improvement, has implemented a performance management system that rewards people who participated in an improvement over the past year; and the improvement must meet specific criteria:
- Successfully run for a period of time
Another Partner company puts everyone through a five day course to help people learn to work effectively in teams. Yet another has a course that emphasizes culture that every single employee must take. And some are sent back to take it a second time!
But the Partners Forum and the literature overwhelmingly suggest that culture is most powerfully influenced by the leadership… and in particular leadership’s behavior that is consistent with the culture.
“Living it begins at the top. If people don’t see the executives living and displaying the corporate values that they expect others to live by, the end is near.” [Ryan Rieches]