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Creating Culture Shock
Shock is an emotionally charged word which can be perceived as negative. In many instances, like personal tragedies, it is. However, because it startles and often instigates change, using shock in relation to a business culture, can be very effective. In order to improve or grow your business, change needs to occur. Most clients I work with need to make significant changes in the culture of their companies to get there.
A few months ago I wrote about the micromanager and the affect too much control can have on employees’ performance and motivation. On the other hand, businesses can suffer from a too relaxed environment with undefined structure and few enforced policies. This can also affect motivation and keep the company from growing.
For example, I have one professional services client with an unproductive staff. Staff members worked too few billable hours and didn’t take the initiative to ask for more work when they were finished with projects. The partners were not happy about this but were never clear about their expectations. This resulted in a culture which accepted a poor work ethic. The firm wants to grow, but first it needs some culture shock.
Another client suspected that store employees were stealing merchandise. The owners see it as expected behavior for the retail industry. Unless someone is caught red-handed, the theft is accepted as a cost of doing business. That is just one of many poor employee behaviors ignored by ownership. Other employees know what is going on; what is the message to them? This company also needs a culture shock.
I often ask clients to identify the culture of their companies. We talk about what works and doesn’t and then define a culture that would better serve them. It takes time but the introduction of the new culture makes people stand up and listen. The challenge then becomes enforcing the elements of the culture that create trust and make your employees know you mean business.
Important aspects of a successful culture change:
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