Culture Change: A Sticky Issue

Posted by Tracey Britton on Jan 5, 2016 2:56:15 PM
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Unless you are starting it from scratch, your company comes with its own culture already baked in. And that culture is sticky – it can seem intractable. In some instances this works to your favor, such as when good characteristics are there for good. But sticky culture presents challenges. If things like how people are treated, character traits that are, or are not, valued, or internal competition are negatively persistent, you could have a major culture challenge. You can and should work to change any negative aspects of culture, but it takes time, and long-lasting change is incremental. It pays to be patient. Recognize what needs to change for your organization to thrive, make a plan for how it will change, and be the biggest advocate you can for that plan. Enlist the support of others. Promote your plan in private discussions and public forums. And celebrate the small wins.

Even when you have wins along the way, there will be snap back when some of those negative aspects of culture reappear – particularly in instances when people are busy and stressed. This does not mean your plan is failing. Progress in culture change is not linear. Expect ebb and flow. Be a pillar when the culture ebbs toward the negative and a force for change when it flows toward the positive. The corollary to the negative aspects always lurking is that the positive ones are too – even in times of stress and change.

Start by identifying what's sticky in your workplace, or even your work group. Make a list with two columns: sticky good, and sticky bad, to identify what you want your culture to maintain and what you'd like to come unstuck. Going forward, we'll give you tools to make the good stuff stickier, catch more people, and happen more often. All of which will help make the "good" a larger and larger part of your workplace culture.

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Topics: Organizational Culture, Workplace Culture