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How to implement lasting cultural change

I know you’ve heard it far too many times lately, but it’s been a year of unprecedented global disruption. And it’s not just our economy that’s suffered - this pandemic has completely changed the way organisations communicate. For some, it’s changed how they operate too.

With so many businesses working outside of the traditional office environment - with job roles changing, with teams shaken up, and with face-to-face interactions falling to a minimum - you might have had to pivot your operations, or change your offering entirely. But have you changed your culture along the way?

Culture is more than just a corporate buzzword; it’s crucial to the success and overall health of a business and its people. Your culture is what defines and differentiates you. In fact, we’d go one step further and say your culture is the thing that’ll make the difference between whether your business simply survives or really thrives during this crisis.

Right now, organisations have an opportunity unlike any before to reignite their company culture. And in order to do that, you must be open to adopting and implementing a robust cultural change strategy.

Cultural change is arguably one of the most difficult challenges in leadership. The culture of an organisation lives and breathes in your people and your processes - everything from the way you communicate to the way you structure your company. So it’s an enormous undertaking. But not an impossible one by any means.

It all starts at the top; the Founders, the CEOs, the MDs, the HRDs. Culture is expressed through the behaviour of senior leadership, and is reflected in the attitudes of others as a result. So it’s up to leadership teams to drive cultural change. But before you go charging out of the gate, you’ve got to make sure your house is in order first.

Step 1 - Restore team cohesion

Simply put, team cohesion is the key to team performance and organisational success. Without it, you won’t be going anywhere fast.

A cohesive team is one that demonstrates five critical behaviours, starting with vulnerability-based trust. Trust is the key to building relationships, and leads to other key behaviours, including the ability to engage in healthy conflict and holding one another accountable for your actions.

It’s up to leaders to literally lead by example. By doing so, others will follow, and these behaviours will begin to filter through your organisation.

Step 2 - Refresh your strategic narrative

Your strategic narrative is your organisation’s story, built around your EVP. It needs to come from the top down, it needs to be compelling, and it needs to be authentic. It also needs to align your people around why you exist, what your vision is and who you are - aka your mission, your purpose and your values.

Over the course of this pandemic, you may have had to change your business model or alter your purpose to fit the new landscape of your industry. So ask yourself, are your people still aligned around your why? What is the problem you’re trying to solve as a business? And are your values a reflection of reality?

Step 3 - Relay key messages internally

We all know that communication is key, but it’s communicating your fundamental purpose and values that can make a real difference within your organisation. And again, it must come from the top.

It’s up to your senior leaders to communicate your why statement, your purpose and your values throughout the organisation via every internal comms touchpoint, from virtual team meetings and company newsletters, to training opportunities and social events.

Step 4 - Reinforce your narrative externally

Telling your story is the final step in reigniting your company culture. It’s about telling candidates who you are and why you’re the employer for them. And it’s a story that should be told at every stage of the recruitment lifecycle.

Your strategic narrative should never be put on the back-burner - it shouldn’t be forgotten about after an employee settles in. It should be an ongoing effort, a guidepost created by your company, for your company, that is reflected all the way through from candidate attraction, to ongoing engagement.

Culture has always mattered. But now it matters more than ever.

Now is the time to pause and reflect. It’s time to restore cohesion within your team. To refresh why you exist, what you do and who you are. To relay those messages, and rally your team around your vision. To reinforce your brand story at every single touchpoint during the recruitment lifecycle.

Want to dive deeper? Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve written a whole white paper and how to guide on this subject. Find out how you can reignite your company culture in the face of a global pandemic. Go to https://welove9am.com/culture to grab your free copy (yes, free!)

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Your culture is the thing that’ll make the difference between whether your business simply survives or really thrives during this crisis.