At What Point is the “Human Element” Needed? (Part 3) – Intense Pain

June 22, 2015 | Uncategorized

Photo by Stefson on Flickr 

Some have told me that real change doesn’t happen in someone’s life until the pain of keeping the status quo hurts more than the pain of changing ones habits. I am sure we have all experienced this phenomenon at some time.

As it relates to the “human element” of ones organization, it is the point where the culture is so broken, so toxic that change must happen immediately and intensely. Not addressing the culture means the company will likely perish.

The first “to-do” in this situation is the leader must own the problem. They must address all of their employees and announce something to the affect of the following:

“I have failed all of you.  In the last years, our culture has grown into something in which I’m not proud. Nonetheless, it happened under my leadership, and I am going to take full responsibility. Starting today, we are going to rebuild this culture which defines employee recognition, trust, and accountability as its key values. In the next few weeks, company representatives will meet with each employee to discuss certain aspects of the organization including ways we can improve. Please speak candidly. There will be no punitive actions from these interviews. They are meant to give everyone opportunities to improve.”

The following three initiatives come from Quint Studer’s Results That Last. First, we would then appoint individuals to interview (round on) the employees in each segment, location, and department and ask them the following questions:

  1. What Is Working Well?
  2. What Is Not Working Well?
  3. Do You Have The Necessary Tools To Do Your Job?
  4. Would You Like To Recognize Someone In Your Organization Who Is Doing A Good Job?

While managers should be doing this, we must use other personnel in this situation to make sure we are getting real feedback. If the culture is broken, we may not get honest feedback in the current management structure.

The first scouting report and stop light report will be key to get momentum rolling in the positive direction. It will probably be pretty massive but taking the time to address each piece of feedback given by employees and reporting the actions to be taken by leaders based on this feedback is crucial to the first step of “fixing” the culture.

We also recommend implementing an employee recognition initiative which includes having each leader write at least 5 thank you notes monthly to someone on their team. These notes should recognize individuals for some type of positive behavior. For instance, an employee helps another employee with something that does not directly fall into their job description. It could also be for “getting caught” giving a customer outstanding service. These moments must be recognized to create a long lasting positive culture and the amount of thank you notes must be measured.

Finally, we should develop a standards of behavior and require each person to sign it (including all leaders, even the CEO). Prospective interviewees would also sign this before interviewing.

These three quick action steps take a lot of extra time, but their return on investment is very high. There is much more work to be done, but these initiatives must be completed at least 2 times in a 180 day period before the next steps can be taken.

What are some tell tale signs of a broken culture? What are some other ways to improve a broken culture quickly?


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