Why I should’ve said no to fix the company culture

Company culture is not a toy that you can “fix”.

Yet, how many times have you heard leaders asking their managers to fix people’s behaviors? 

I remember when that happened to me as a manager earlier in my career.

After one year in that company, I was promoted to lead an important department in a medium-sized organization. The CEO identified me as the right person to transform a company function that was not operating at its best.

The main goal was to change the perception of my department and drive new behaviors to put our activities at the core of the organization.

In other words, that function was supposed to become the lighthouse of the new way of working and delivering value to the market. 

At least this is what my CEO told me to convince me to take the job.

Soon after, I realized that I didn’t have the support I was expecting. It wasn’t there.

The mission was bigger than me and my team.

What I really needed at the time was the top leadership to promote and reinforce the new culture and expected behaviors. In reality, I felt completely alone with this heavy weight on my shoulder.

As a result, key stakeholders didn’t buy into the change but at a very superficial level. They didn’t see that change. Neither the value.

And they didn’t see the CEO stepping in. This was a red flag.

Guess what happened next.

The change didn’t happen. We worked really hard until a point we burned out and quit. And it seemed that nobody really cared about it.

Morale…

You can’t expect to “fix” behaviors in the workplace. It just doesn’t work in that way.

Changing behaviors requires:

  • strong sponsorship from the CEO and its executive team
  • a compelling vision that explains well the new culture
  • clear expectations of what behaviors need to be changed
  • over-communication to reinforce the vision
  • support and resources to execute the vision

My advice: don’t start any culture change if you’re NOT READY to lead this process properly. No matter how painful it could be.

Otherwise, it will be just a waste of time, money, and people engagement.

Listen to the podcast related to this article: https://www.andreapetrone.com/why-i-shouldve-said-no-to-fix-the-company-culture-podcast/

 

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