As the first culture-shaping consulting firm, Senn Delaney has quite literally made organizational culture its business. Larry Senn and his colleagues, including partner and executive vice president Bill Parsons, have brought their mission of “creating healthy, high-performance cultures” to more than 500 companies. Bill shared some of the knowledge they’ve gathered over their 38 years of experience at the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference—including the four principles that must be upheld to really shape culture and improve performance.
What do you think when you hear the words “culture change”? More important, what do your baseline employees—the women and men who get the essential and routine work done—think when they’re first introduced to organizational culture change?
From our experience, here’s how many react: “Oh, great… another bunch of buzzwords and another round of change, none of which will affect my job. I’ll just smile and nod.”
And yet the simple reality is culture change—real, sustainable change—best occurs when our frontline workers accept change as a positive move for them. After all, no one wants to have change happen to them. Or worse yet, to become a victim when change comes at them. Instead, they want to be part of the solution. The most inspired or motivated take it a step further: They want to be involved actively in the change plan.
Culture change is a human experience. It’s not just a business imperative, as it has been viewed for decades, as reflected in the following examples. “If we’re going to grow, we have to change the culture,” or “This culture is toxic, and it is affecting our customer service.” These examples reflect a perspective that is short-sighted and can be detrimental to the success of your business and employees. For culture change to have a chance of becoming contagious, leaders should more deeply understand how business needs and the human experience of change can work in concert. Together, these two can help navigate change pitfalls. More on those in a moment.
Josh Bersin, principal and founder, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, fascinated the crowd with the interesting perspectives on culture he shared at the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference. He started by sharing some interesting data and insights about why culture is important. He followed that explanation with a summary of five key trends driving culture today.
When called upon to institute major organizational transitions, business leaders need help navigating the process of implementing cultural change. Consequently, they call upon people from a wide array of disciplines (change management, project management, organizational design, IT, HR, leadership development, strategic planning, business relationship management, etc.) to fulfill this need. I refer to the professionals who provide this guidance as “change practitioners,” regardless of what discipline they represent or whether they operate as internal employees or external consultants.