At the outset of any cultural change project there is a set formula that I use to deliver an integrated cultural framework that fuses the ‘brand’, the ‘vision & values’ and the ‘behaviours’. To have a credible and integrated cultural proposition, it is essential that the organisational narrative is consistent.
The natural instinct when you work out of an HR department is to build your cultural ambitions into your people framework. Identifying the behaviours that will define your culture is an essential part of the process; and integrating those behaviours into your competency framework and performance management is the mechanism for rewarding people that deliver on your cultural ambition and organisational objectives.
If you are managing cultural change from within a Marketing department, the instinct can be to align cultural ambition with your brand. The brand should be the dominant factor in defining ‘who you are’, ‘what you do’, and ‘how you do it’. It forms the basis of your organisational narrative, and it should also be the definition of your organisational culture, especially the ‘how you do it’.
The trap that some organisations fall into is finding the link between brand and behaviours. For an integrated cultural proposition, you need to fuse the two. When you are creating a proposal or framework for cultural definition there is a simple but effective formula that you can follow to ensure that you are bringing together your brand proposition and values with your organisational behaviours.
I am not a great fan of the term ‘brand values’, my view is that the values should be closer to your people and reflect behaviours. I prefer the term ‘organisational values and behaviours’.
On occasion, organisational territories can act as a barrier to creating that integrated cultural solution. The critical point is to ensure that Marketing and HR are working collaboratively; both play a key role in defining culture.
The Internal Communications function plays the role of conduit with a stake in both Marketing and HR. That holistic view empowers an Internal Communications practitioner to fuse the objectives of both into one solution.
The key catalyst of a cultural change project is a change in vision or direction. This makes your CEO and Leadership team key stakeholders, and they need to be involved in the process of cultural definition. From the outset of any cultural change project the primary objective is to sit down with your CEO and gain an insight into vision.
The vision is the driver for your culture, and the way your organisation does business. Aligning culture to vision is the first step in the change process. A change in culture doesn’t always mean a change in brand. It means a change in the ‘way we do things’, where you can tweak or change values and behaviours to reflect a change in direction.
The other real catalyst for cultural change is acquisition and merger. It is important that organisations recognise the cultural challenges of acquisition and mergers at an early stage. The most effective time to integrate different cultures is early in the process. If it is left, you can end up with multiple cultures and identities that can create silos and challenges further down the line when trying to integrate into a single culture. The earlier you can integrate, the easier it is to sell in something new, fresh and exciting to employees.
Any cultural change project is a journey, it cannot be achieved overnight. But, if you get the foundations right at the outset, you will have a credible, consistent and flexible cultural model that can act as a valuable tool in managing change, and keeping employees engaged.