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No company escapes the need for change. Resistance to change is cited as the number one reason for failure. Culture is collective behaviour. It is the formation of habits by the group.


Any behaviour that is rewarded consistently over time will become a habit, and will become embedded in the collective habits we call culture. Some of these habits are good for the organisation but some might also be harmful. In any group, people attempt to influence each other’s behaviour in a variety of ways. For example, if political or backstabbing behaviour is rewarded, then you will see that behaviour continue, and if it is rewarded consistently over time, it will become a part of “how we do things around here.” Rewards might be formal or informal. Formal rewards include things like pay increases, promotions, bonuses. Informal rewards can be such things as being appreciated by peers, a sense of accomplishment, or feeling like you “fit in” as a respected member of a group. Over time, “the way we do things around here” comes to be seen as the only valid way to do things. Every business has a culture – good or bad – it is something for you to be aware of. Once you identify the culture you can determine whether that culture is where you want it to be and that it will support the success of your business.

1. Identify what everyone wants from the business

What goals do you, your people and your customers have that are related to your business. A staff member may want a fair work environment, a customer may want more product knowledge, you may want to be able to confidently step away from the day to day operation of the business.

2. Identify the existing culture

Walk around, do a “culture walk”, notice how you and others do things in your business. It is important that you are objective and detached so you can see how your business is really operating. Ask people what is working well, what could we do better?

3. Identify the culture you need to deliver the right results

What is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be? What needs to change to align the results you want with the culture that will best deliver it?

Once you have identified the culture gap, it’s time to start working on engaging your people and embedding the new culture into everything you do.

Author Bree James

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