In my line of business, I hear it said over and over again. “I wish our people would do this” or “I wish my team would stop doing that.” What business owners and c-levels are saying to me essentially is that they want to change the behavior of their people. I believe that the most effective and efficient way to change people’s behaviors is to change their attitudes and beliefs. If people believe it is perfectly okay to show up late for work, then they will do just that. If they have an attitude that it is all right to ignore their responsibility in completing assigned tasks, they will. Your organization’s culture is the way people behave, driven by their attitudes and beliefs.
Unlike changing an organization chart or a process, culture is developed over time and it takes a long time to change it or have it evolve. And it also takes the five key components: Concentration, Commitment, Communication, Consistency and Consequences.
Concentration: It is hard to change too many beliefs all at once, so we need to carefully concentrate on those changes that are critical to our desired result. We should try to limit our concentration to perhaps five beliefs that do not exist today. Any more than what we can manage is a waste of time.
Commitment: If you are not committed (stems from these changes being required), again, don’t waste your time. To assert that you are committed and then not follow up on that commitment demonstrates that you are not truly committed after all. Not following through on your commitments models poor leadership skills, perpetuates a counterproductive belief system, and thus causes people not to believe you (nor believe in you) the next time.
Communication: It takes as many as seven times for people to really hear your message, so be prepared to repeat it. Since communication is a two-way street, listen to see if the message has been received, is understood, and is effective. You may need to make a change to the way you communicate; the message, the mode and the messenger.
Consistency: Just as you cannot raise children with inconsistent parenting, you cannot be inconsistent in your communication and modeling in your business. If you make exceptions for the manufacturing department or at month end, you run the risk that people will not take you seriously, and you instill a belief that although we have heard the message, it will not be one that is reinforced or implemented consistently.
Consequences: You must address the WHY behind your expectations, not only for the business and the owners, but to the individuals. What is in it for them? If you promise consequences, deliver them. If you promise a day off, award it. If you promise, on the other hand, a dock in pay, you better deliver on that too.
If you do the above, including modeling the way for your people, you have a much better chance of changing the beliefs and behavior in your organization. If the behavior of your people improves, haven’t you changed the culture?
We would love to learn about your insight into company culture; please comment below.
By Bob Dodge, Business Coaching Expert & Advisor Board Facilitator