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Ian Ferguson: ‘Taking Stock’ Of A Cultural Change

At the start of a new calendar year, most companies assess their past performance with the aim of improving upon that in the coming 12 months. This process of ‘taking stock’ often requires some major adjustments, which can lead to intense company restructuring and shifting. This week’s discussion provides leaders and senior executives with a seven-step formula for shifting their internal culture so that it improves bottom line results.

  • Step 1

Evaluate the current culture, as expressed in your spoken or unspoken core values, vision and mission statements. Determine whether or not these values truly express who you are as a company, or the direction you want to head in, and do not be afraid to change them.

In your assessment of these values, determine the areas of weakness keeping you from achieving your full potential. Some companies simply undergo a ‘SWOT’ or ‘GAP’ analysis tool to begin this process.

  • Step 2

Once a proper assessment has been conducted, some adjustments may need to be made to the founding statements that form the constitution and lifeblood of the company.

Wise leaders do not go this alone, and will engage the brilliant minds of team members who share a love of the work around them.

  • Step 3

No true cultural adjustment can be complete without addressing the human factor. Some evaluation of team members is the necessary next step in realigning the company towards a healthier corporate disposition.

This process might entail performance management of all staf; retraining of some team members; transferring and ensuring that all team members are properly suited in their respective places; or - in some drastic cases - termination of employees determined to be liabilities for the company.

  • Step 4

A strong communications plan, through re-orientation or re-branding training exercises, must ensue once the values, objectives and business planning documents have been clarified. Everyone on the team must receive their marching orders and feel a part of the turnaround process if it is to be done effectively.

  • Step 5

A greater sense of direction in defining strategic business priorities is crucial at this stage. If the performance priority is growth, the leaders must ask - will it be achieved through new products or services, revised sales strategies, growth with current customers or other strategies? Then, employees want and need to understand the big picture.

  • Step 6

Establish strong patterns for communication, and the open and transparent sharing of ideas, information and suggestions. Secure leaders learn how to take the suggestions (however they come) of team members who, in most cases, want the best for the company. They often have the clearer insight as to the changes that will yield greater results.

  • Step 7

In every true paradigm shift or cultural transformation, some external infusion was the leading factor. Businesses that allow the culture of other successful individuals and, perhaps, businesses from the outside to influence and infiltrate the company in deliberate ways reap great benefits.

Whether it is the securing of consultancy support or hiring a fresh wave of talent, the injection of a different mindset and the empowerment of those individuals to impact the company in meaningful ways is crucial to it moving to the next stage.

Simply declaring 2016 to be a year of improvement and success will not cause it to be so. Leaders must be intentional and strategic this year, and more than ever, to change for the good the climate and culture of their companies.

• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.

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