Is culture-change a buzz word? Does anyone actually change a work culture? What does it mean when we speak about work culture? I would like to take a quick look into work culture and why it is an important topic for leadership. Over the next couple of paragraphs, my goal is to either have you fully agree with my theory or completely disagree. Either way, the goal is to elicit discussion and to challenge your beliefs.

Do you want to see if you have a great work culture? Take all of your supervisors and senior management out of the office for the day and measure productivity of the remaining workforce. Work culture is similar to the body’s metabolism (the sum of the metabolic activities taking place in a particular environment). When the culture is good, the company remains productive no matter the circumstances because employees are engaged, have commitment to the mission and only need leadership for strategic guidance, not to regulate work on a daily basis.

I have heard many times from leaders that culture change in a work environment may take years to change. I believe that is a cliché answer that just allows a company to procrastinate and not address difficult issues in order to implement the change. How do you begin culture change you ask? Here are my recommendations.

  1. An organizational strategic plan needs to be implemented to provide direction and a course for the workforce
  2. Leaders in the organization need to model the desired behavior
  3. Dashboards, statistics and goals need to be discussed on a weekly basis to provide ‘live’ look-ins
  4. Communication is key to stay transparent with strategic initiatives and the direction of the agency, which creates trust and buy-in
  5. Front-line employees need to be included when discussing the direction of the company and the ‘why’ to the work that is given
  6. Treat employees as professionals with clear expectations and respect

Although these are only a few pieces of the puzzle, they are worth mentioning. Culture change does take time, but ultimately the culture of the company is a direct result of the many facets of quality leadership. What characteristics do you believe are catalysts to establishing the proper work culture or changing a negative culture? What would be on your top ten list? How would you go about changing a negative culture?

According to,

Zappos has become almost as well known for its culture as it is for the shoes that it sells online. What does that culture look like?

It starts with a cultural fit interview, which carries half the weight of whether the candidate is hired. New employees are offered $2,000 to quit after the first week of training if they decide the job isn’t for them. Ten core values are instilled in every team member. Employee raises come from workers who pass skills tests and exhibit increased capability, not from office politics. Portions of the budget are dedicated to employee team building and culture promotion.

Great benefits and a workplace that is fun and dedicated to making customers happy all fit in with the Zappos approach to company culture -- when you get the company culture right, great customer service and a great brand will happen on its own.

Posted in CDS Monarch

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"Whiteboard Session: Culture Change"

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