Defining and Improving Organizational Culture – Part II

By George P. Linke, Jr., Psy.D. and Shlomo Z. Satt

Previously, we discussed the complexities of organizational culture and various dynamics relevant to its definition. Being that organizational culture includes all actions and motivations from within a company, as well as its outer image representation, it is undoubtedly important to have a positive culture. With that being said, let’s discuss some ways to improve your organization’s culture.

Before one can improve their culture, they must have a solid grasp of where their current culture is at.  As stated in the article 10 Principles Of Organizational Culture: “To work with your culture effectively, you must understand it, recognize which traits are preeminent and consistent, and discern under what types of conditions these traits are likely to be a help or a hindrance.” Far too often, we find an idealistic leader who attempts to change the work atmosphere in a few quick steps. This is not the most effective way of instituting change. Change must be gradual and work with the current resources and abilities of the organization. Take time for internal research to develop a clear understanding of the organization.

Once there is an understanding, developing a vision is the next step. A clear company vision will be the foundation for all future growth in organizational culture. The Hartford, in their article “Defining Your Company’s Vision” state 5 pointers to keep in mind when conceptualizing a vision for a company:

  1. Dream Big: Focus on the success you want to achieve in five to 10 years.
  2. Get Passionate: Add some emotional language to your vision statement to ramp up the motivational factor.
  3. Include Employees in the Process: Ask employees for ideas about their visions for the company. This will give your staff some ownership of the vision and help engage them as evangelists going forward.
  4. Be Clear: Avoid buzzwords and corporate speak to keep your vision simple and unambiguous.
  5. Communicate Consistently: By using inclusionary words such as “we,” “us,” and “our,” you can unify the vision across your company and help employees feel like they are expressing the vision. Keep employees informed about how the company is achieving its vision.

After creating a vision, the next phase is to create a strategic plan for improving organizational culture. Once the company’s vision is clear, extract the core values and develop practical ways to implement those values. For example, if a core value is the customer experience, then one can create options for customers to provide feedback on goods and services. Consider evaluating competitors to ascertain whether their practices can be implemented to improve organizational culture.

Having a realistic understanding of your organization, along with a clear vision and “game plan” for cultural improvements, will lead an organization on the way to improving their culture. However, there is one final note that can “make or break” the process. Cultural change will only occur gradually, but action must occur consistently. Meaning, an organization can have a great blueprint for cultural change, but if there isn’t enough consistent action implementing change, it can undermine the whole process. Using the previous example of creating customer feedback for services, if that data is not evaluated and instituted, the whole purpose of creating a survey is lost. Even moreso, it can negatively affect group morale, when employees see that the organization isn’t following up on their word

Could your organization benefit from cultural change? What are some practices that you would like to implement? Click here to join the conversation.

George Linke is the Founder and President of Linke Resources. He is an executive & professional search consultant specializing in healthcare and human services. He has a demonstrated track record of placing well qualified professionals that advance the clinical and programmatic needs critical to an organization’s mission and financial health. He has extensive experience serving individuals with behavioral health needs, intellectual disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities. To learn more about how Linke Resources can make the hiring process efficient, successful and stress-free, call 610-873-4813.