Welcome to the final edition of our Culture Hacker blog series. We have covered many important mechanisms and ideas that help managers become successful in their efforts to reprogram their company culture and employee experience. In this blog, we want to highlight one important element that allows managers to successfully refresh and evolve a culture, and that is their own willingness to change.
If a manager is going to refresh their culture based on the various ideas provided throughout the Culture Hacker blog series or my book, Culture Hacker, then he or she must be willing to look inward first. To improve your own company culture, you must be willing to put aside some of the ideas that up until now have defined your managerial style and priorities. As economist John Maynard Keyes wrote, “The difficulty lays 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 deliver an employee experience that will make their people feel great about coming to work.
We have been involved in a number of change initiatives over the years to help companies and managers shift perspectives. Here are four things to remember as you think about becoming a Culture Hacker within your organization:
- Recognize the need to change.
- Challenge the status quo with new ideas.
- Prioritize your activities.
- Get things done.
Recognize the Need to Change
Let’s start with the first point: you must recognize the need to change to actually change. When it comes to company culture, this means believing that it is the most important consideration for your company today. As Netpulse CEO, John Gengarella puts it, “Company culture, whether a start-up or Fortune 500, is the most defensible and differentiating asset you can create. It defines your potential to innovate, grow, and succeed.” Your culture is defining how well you take care of your customers, how much effort your employees put in every day, and whether they will stick around long term. Your culture is impacting company performance and your ability to be profitable. Simply put, it is the main thing in business today.
Challenge Status Quo with New Ideas
Research suggests that a mere 3% of leaders consistently challenge the status quo. You must be willing to challenge your own thinking, which includes what made you successful in the past. Leadership author John Maxwell put it perfectly when he wrote; “The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is sometimes today’s success.” For managers, this means having to put aside some of the thinking, beliefs, and habits that defined you in the past. You have to constantly challenge your style and what you do to ensure it is still relevant and impactful for a modern workforce.
Next, consider those habits and ideas that will define future success. It is my hope that over the course of the Culture Hacker blog series, you have found a number of simple ideas to think about and implement.
Prioritize Your Activities
To help you navigate change, develop a plan based on your priorities. We have been conducting culture assessments the past couple of years and it is always the case that what the executive team thought was a priority, may not have been the most important thing for their staff in terms of enjoying their work every day. When it comes to employee experience, ask your people what is most important to them, and use this to develop a plan to achieve your cultural objectives. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Ensure you detail what you want to achieve based on your team’s feedback.
Get Things Done
Finally, make it happen. Change can be hard, but don’t let that be your excuse.
To make it happen, leaders need to schedule it in. Be honest: is the company focused on what really matters, or trying to do as much as possible without really achieving anything? If a leader wants to change, then he or she needs to commit to actually doing something about it and then ensuring to follow through with commitment. As football coach Vince Lombardi stated, “When all is said and done, more is always said than done.” We tell ourselves that we are going to change and get things done, but we get easily sidetracked with things that are not really important or seem urgent in the moment. So, get back to scheduling what is most important. Be a little selfish to get the necessary time to master the Culture Hacker approach and methodologies.
As President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” For your staff to have the type of mindset that “wows” customers and contributes to your company, you have to think about how to make their experience better.