Consistency is the Key to Change

If you follow American football, you know the New York Giants have been struggling for some time now. As a devoted fan, I’ve witnessed my favorite team go through a challenging 15-year period. Since their last Super Bowl win in 2011, they’ve had only  3 winning seasons, and it feels like they’re perpetually on a losing streak. The talk of the newest coach getting fired is all too familiar, as they’ve gone through 4 head coaches in 8 years. This revolving door of new leadership and philosophies has certainly done them no favors, and they always seem to be jumping the gun looking for the next savior.

This turmoil on the football field serves as a poignant reminder that, whether you’re managing a football team or a corporate organization, you can’t build or rebuild culture overnight. It’s a complex process that takes time, patience, and a strategic approach. Rushing the process can compromise results. I often have clients wanting a hail mary, expecting a full transformation in just 6 weeks, but that’s just not an effective approach to building a positive, sustainable company culture. 

Before embarking on a culture change journey within your own organization, it’s important to think about the why, and to really define what such a change will drive in terms of a business outcome. Consider the following questions: What is the driving force for wanting to change or adapt the culture within your organization? Are you seeking improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity, or a more innovative and inclusive work environment? Defining your purpose will guide your journey. You should also consider how drastic of a change you need; do you want to simply make tweaks, or initiate a full-blown transformation?

Here are 4 of the most important things to consider when embarking on a culture change journey. Change is all about:

1. Systems and Processes:

Culture isn’t just about what people think or feel; it’s deeply intertwined with the systems and processes within your organization. To drive meaningful culture change, you must address the fundamental systems that shape both mindset and behavior. For instance, consider the way meetings are conducted. Are they productive, inclusive, and conducive to collaboration? Do they align with the desired culture? Changing how meetings are structured and run can have a profound impact on culture. You can also focus on decision-making processes within your organization. Are they transparent, fair, and aligned with your desired values? Shifting these systems to reinforce the cultural changes you seek is an essential part of the process.

2. Leadership and Role-Modeling:

Culture change starts at the top. Leaders should be champions of the new culture and serve as role models for the desired behaviors and values. Their actions and decisions set the tone for the entire organization. If leaders don’t embrace and exhibit the cultural changes, it’s unlikely that employees will buy into them. Thus, it’s critical to provide leadership with the necessary training and support to help them embody the cultural shift.

3. Communication and Inclusivity:

Effective communication is key to culture change. You should clearly and consistently communicate with your team about the “why” behind the changes and how they align with the organization’s mission and values. Be transparent about the process, the expected challenges, and the milestones achieved. It’s also a good idea to involve employees at all levels in the change process. Seek their input, listen to their concerns, and empower them to be part of the solution. Inclusivity fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the new culture.

4. Recognition and Reward Structures:

To reinforce the desired behaviors and values, you need a recognition and reward structure that aligns with the culture you’re trying to build. Recognize and celebrate individuals and teams who exemplify the desired cultural traits. Ensure that promotions, bonuses, and other incentives are tied to the new cultural norms. This will motivate employees to actively participate in the culture change and create a sense of accountability.

Culture change is a complex process that demands careful planning execution, coupled with patience and understanding. Rushing through it or expecting a quick fix is a recipe for disappointment. Whether you’re a football team or a business organization, the journey to culture change requires a thorough assessment, a clear understanding of the “why,” and a willingness to address systems, leadership, communication, and reward structures — and again, patience.