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November 1, 2013
Organizational Cultural Change: The Cornerstone of Your Business!
By Frederic Portal, Ataway Director of Strategy and Alliance

Did you know it takes an oil tanker a minimum of 30 miles to reverse its direction out in the sea? With business, it is similar: It takes time and commitment to change, based on values, principles and quality relationships to positively affect your company's culture.

Your competition has the same access to industry forecasts and analyst reports. So how do you innovate and create leadership? The wild card is the human side of the equation. The potential for high quality products, stability and competitiveness are released through an organization's people. It's the people in your company that make the difference!

Studies have shown that companies embracing an organizational culture get 15% more productivity from the workforce. And whether you realize it or not, everyone in your organization is a manager; you either manage employees or you manage yourself and your own manager. So no matter where you are positioned in your company, you can always make a difference in the organization culture. As Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world." In other words, if you want to change the world, start with yourself. Become a great leader for yourself, and then you can start to be a positive leader for everyone else.

Leaders often wonder why they can’t get traction in making the changes they know are necessary. They make take steps towards change such as articulating a new vision. They change a few policies, they replace a few key people, and yet nothing substantive changes. The problem is that company culture is largely invisible to those inside of it. It’s like water to a fish. It’s simply the environment we live in.

Let’s go over few key steps that will help you and your organization to achieve mastery in improving organizational culture.

1. Assessment

The first step towards improving company culture is to make an assessment of where you currently are. Face-to-face interviews with each person in the company gives an honest "X-ray" with positives and negatives of the company culture. You could get a representative sample from 19 people and be close to 85% correct in your assessment, but something would still be missing. You will see two main benefits emerge from this type of assessment. The first is that when you conduct the interviews, remember that you are a facilitator. You should stay neutral to whatever the person in front is telling you, as this is his/her true perception of the organization's condition. The second benefit is that each employee will sincerely feel some ownership and commitment to the change process, because they are being heard and feel that Trust has been established. Once people feel part of something bigger, then they tend to feel more motivated to do more for the organization. 

2. Leadership

The second step is to establish leadership. Leadership is for everyone in the company, including employees, management and supervisors. The condition of an organization's interpersonal relationships directly impact its ability to grow and prosper. Managers create open lines of communication, build trust and develop mutual respect, which is necessary for group decision-making and team development. The culture of a company lies in the behavior of its leaders. If you change your attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors, you will change your culture. People will start to work together to resolve issues that have previously delayed their progress. They’ll work now on positive and harmony with problem-solving, decision-making and planning skills.

It is said that the fusion of talent is greater than the simple addition. If people above you don’t change, you can still change the culture of your department, division or operating unit. In fact, that’s usually how it works and that’s how I interpret Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Is it possible to change the culture of your organization? Absolutely. But like everything else in leadership, you must be intentional.

To conclude, read INSEAD Knowledge's Report, The World's Most Innovative Companies 2013.  You can also take a look at the video below (full link here): 

For more tips on improving company culture, read this article from the Wall Street Journal “How to Change Your Organization’s Culture.” This article is a fantastic leadership guide featuring a step-by-step how-to with stories and video interviews with prominent CEOs.

At Ataway, we help organizations change and adapt to the rollout of a new software release and review your business processes. For more than 10 years, Ataway has worked in different industries to help identify how companies can change their culture, increase productivity, improve their business processes, motivate employees and make organizations aware of extensive cost saving opportunities.

Consult with Ataway’s Team of Experts Today, and learn how we can help you to achieve Cultural Change.

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