Welcome to the final edition of the Culture Hacker blog series. We have covered all the mechanisms and ideas that help managers to become successful Culture Hackers and leaders as they reprogram company code and employee engagement. In this final blog, and as we get started on our 2017, let’s highlight one important element that allows managers to successfully refresh and evolve a culture, and that is their willingness to change.
If a manager is going to refresh a culture based on the various ideas provided throughout the Culture Hacker series, then he or she must be willing to look inward first. As a Culture Hacker, leaders need to epitomize the ideals and values of their organizations before anyone else. They also have to be willing to put aside some of the ideas that up until now contributed to the success of the business and culture. As economist John Maynard Keyes wrote, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” Leaders have to be willing to put aside old ideas to ensure they have a culture that will direct the team to deliver on the brand’s promise and desired customers experience.
We have been involved in a number of change initiatives over the years to help companies and managers shift perspectives. Here are five things to remember while thinking about becoming a Culture Hacker within your organization:
- Recognize the need to make a change.
- Challenge the status quo with new ideas.
- Prioritize your activities.
- Get things done.
Recognize the Need to Change
As HR expert Michelle Crosby said, “Coming to terms with the culture you have and the culture you want, and knowing there are actually things you can do to move your culture from one place to another is every leader’s job.” A person must recognize the need to change and want to change before that change can actually take place. Go back and re-read our first blog in this series that lays out the importance of culture and the need for change. The imperative to improve your employee experience is simple; if you do not, then your customers and your best employees will leave you. Both will significantly hurt your company, your reputation, and your brand.
Challenge the Status Quo
You must be willing to challenge your current processes, thinking, and mechanisms around the employee experience. Overcoming the most dangerous words in business, “That’s the way it has always been,” is a struggle for most managers, because in many instances, the mechanisms and processes you have in place were a result of what you developed or have maintained over the years. Leadership author John Maxwell put it perfectly when he wrote, “The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is sometimes today’s success.”
As a manager reading this blog, today may bring success. But with the world evolving so fast we need to remain curious, open minded, and willing to grow. If not, then we are no longer in a position to lead. What makes it difficult is that leaders have to challenge their own thinking, ideas, and the processes that have gotten them to where they are today. Leaders may not have to put aside everything that has made them great, but they must be willing to challenge those ideas.
Prioritize Your Activities
First of all, recognize that you cannot do everything at once, even if there are a number of items that need to be addressed. Remember, one of the most fundamental Culture Hacking philosophies is not to make a big deal about change.
I urge you to consider all of the cultural mechanisms we discussed in our blog series this last year and determine what your most important needs are. If you are not sure, then brainstorm with others on which of the twelve are most important for your organization. Even get your staff involved. As we discussed in earlier blogs, utilizing their ideas, energy, and efforts is a great way to make your cultural shift a reality.
Get Things Done
Finally, get things done. Now that you have read about and talked about what is covered in this book, you have to move to get things done. As entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga said, “Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” All too often we tell ourselves that we are going to change and get things done, but we end up getting side-tracked, and then down the road, look back and wish we’d done more. So create your Culture Hacker action plan with names and dates around who is doing what and when things are getting done. Share the action plan and timeline amongst the senior leadership team to have some accountability and support in accomplishing the tasks. When it comes to culture hacking, I am often reminded of what English writer Francis Hodgson Burnett wrote: “At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” When culture hacking, let your people see that these things can be done.
That’s it. I know it seems like a lot, but when something as critical as culture needs to be addressed because your customer experience is struggling, the effort and performance of your staff are not where you want it to be, and your turnover is too high, then focusing on your employees’ experience is not an option.
Your willingness to improve your employee experience, putting aside some of the things that you thought true in the past, and adding on things that need to be true in the future is the key to not only yours, but any organization’s future. I believe we are in the employee experience economy, and as such, we have to respond to what our employees need and expect from us today, and continue to make adjustments alongside our ever-changing workforce. As Kevin Ricklefs said, “Culture change is an evolution—a journey. Strive to run the company better year after year. It is a long term approach.”
As we finish our Culture Hacker blog series, stay connected and remain relentlessly focused on refreshing or rebuilding your employee experience – because it will determine your customer experience, your bottom line, and your future success. If you need any advice, drop me an email, or reach out to my team. Keep an eye out for my new book to be released this year—and as always, thank you for reading, and all the best.