Long Lasting Culture Change Requires Narrow Focus

April 23, 2015 | Leadership, Teamwork, Time Management

Photo by Michael Dales on Flickr

Some leaders get really excited about change. We see this new program that will help raise the morale of the company. We embrace initiatives and process changes that increase productivity and communication. We long for the day that we can see drastic, positive change in the way customers see our company. We look past the pain associated with change no matter how great and pine for the end result.

Other leaders dread change. We see all the extra work associated with the new programs. We dread thinking about how much we will need to “pull teeth” to get front line staff on board with the change. We fear how this change will affect or even terminate our existence in the organization.

As with most ideas and theories, the best scenario requires a balance between the two extremes.  We need to envision what our company will look like after the change is fully implemented and part of the status quo. This keeps us excited and motivated. We also need to be mindful of the hard work associated with major change and the discipline of keeping focus amidst the daily grind. Not being realistic about the work necessary to make real change will set up false expectations about workload which will eventually wear on leaders.

This is why it is important to keep a narrow focus on major culture change. We often help prescribe tools and processes to change the culture to one that emphasizes the importance of everyone’s daily work and its fulfillment of the company mission. When doing this, we do not give leaders a list of 20 new items that need to be performed well and completed consistently. We would be setting that organization up for failure.

In Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits for Managers, he indicates that there are wildly important goals that must be achieved or nothing else achieved really matters. In the book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, the authors Sean Covey, Chris McChesney and Jim Huling indicate that an organization must focus on one  (two at the very most) of these wildly important goals.  This mainly is because of the “whirlwind” as they call it, or the urgent, everyday activities that make it extremely difficult to focus on even one wildly important goal. However, when we narrow the focus on one (two at the very most) wildly important goals, it is easier get past the “whirlwind” to see the goal to its completion.

Just as the current culture of an organization did not develop in one day, most organizations cannot change their culture overnight.  It is a process that requires focusing on one or two goals at a time so that they are engrained into the organization’s everyday business operations. Only then, can we focus on the next step in defining the culture.

What are some other best practices for creating lasting change to a company’s culture ?

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