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Can Organisational Culture Be Changed?

Shani Logan
26 February, 2020

Organisational culture plays a significant role in the potential competitive advantage of a company. It
influences how a company achieves its critical objectives.

In general terms, it embodies the beliefs and behaviours that people in an organisation model their
world views and actions. It exists in the thinking and the habits of people in a company who share a
perception of how things are supposed to be done, and its formation entails years of interaction among
organisational participants.

A strong and unified culture is essential as it also impacts your organisation’s identity and brand image.
Moreover, a stable company culture helps to attract and, more importantly, retain talent.
If your organisational culture seems maladaptive or is not conducive to innovation, culture change may
be necessary. The reason for this is that innovation requires new ways of thinking and behaviours from
both leaders and employees.

4 Steps to Changing Your Organisational Culture

Transforming organisational culture is a difficult task as it is not something that can be achieved purely
through a top-down mandate. And although you can always demand compliance, you can never force
people to become optimistic, trusting, loyal, or creative. However, there are steps your organisation can
take to facilitate change.

1. Assess your culture.

You already know that your current culture isn’t taking your company anywhere near your
organisational objectives. What you need to do now is to evaluate specific components of your
culture. From there, you need to identify what needs to go, what should stay, and what’s

For example, you may want to keep your historical drive toward productivity as a primary goal.
You may also want to let go of old practices that have no place in your desire to innovate, such
as your rigid 9-to-5 schedule.

Instead, you may choose to adopt flexible work practices that your people need, such as flexible
scheduling, workspaces, even telecommuting, which, in turn, may help increase job satisfaction
and productivity.

2. Visualise your ideal culture and discuss it with everyone.

A great vision has no real value without the participation of others. Therefore, it is essential that
you articulate this vision, share it with your people, and take steps to achieve it.

To support your vision, be prepared to invest in a corporate culture course or organisational
culture courses for your employees. Enrol your middle management team in culture
management training or similar culture change training courses.

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3. Align culture with strategies and process

After resolving to transform organisational culture and reflecting the same in your corporate
mission, vision, and values, you need to evaluate the internal process to ensure these are
aligned together.

One example would be looking into HR processes. Do HR policies and programmes concerning
hiring, performance management, compensation, benefits, promotion, and staff development
reflect the principle behind the culture change you seek?

4. Model the desired change through leadership

You will need the full support and commitment of top management to be able to execute your
vision, not through formal mandates but modelling. It has often been said that you need to be
the change you want to see in the world, and one excellent way of doing just that is aligning
leadership practises with your vision of organisational culture transformation.

With shared intention, a comprehensive plan, and the necessary culture change training, you can move
your company forward.