- The role of a leader in organisational change
- Why cultural change requires a commitment to personal change
- How to be a visible and active sponsor of the cultural change
It’s no secret that the recent banking royal commission unearthed unscrupulous lending practices and hefty fees, practices that included charging deceased people and saddling young homebuyers with unmanageable debt.
But it has also given us a gift.
I’m not talking about the chance of there being a drop in bank fees; it’s the perfect opportunity to look at how culture impacts behaviour in workplaces and even entire industries.
A large part of what made poor banking practices so commonplace comes down to organisational culture. Our belief at Keogh Consulting is that culture should be built by design, not by default. But designing culture isn’t something that comes as standard in the CEO handbook – mainly because there is no handbook.
The recommendations of changing regulations will only take organisations some distance in a positive direction. By far the more challenging task for a bank, or any organisation, is to change the culture.
It’s the longer, harder game. It goes beyond the kinds of bonuses dispensed, or whether or not someone can work from home. What does a leader need to do to enact, or invoke, organisational change?
What CEOs need to remember about cultural change.
1 – Cultural change is never quick and not easy.
Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it you can do it.” In organisational life, the less complicated part can be the dreaming – the crafting of the compelling vision. But when it comes to implementation – making the dream reality – you are entering a world of pain. Instigating cultural change is like going to the gym for the first time in forever and knowing that the workout session is going to take five years. It takes grit, determination and willingness to stay the course and play the long game.
2 – Share the dream. Share the plan to get there.
The vision and desired way of being needs to be front of mind for everyone in the company. A visual representation, perhaps a storyboard openly shared, reinforces the vision daily, especially when it’s on display in the foyer or on the front page of your intranet. Meeting weekly in discussion huddles connects everyone in the business to the ultimate destination and builds a culture where all can have an active part of the journey. Repeat, reinforce, repeat.
3 – Don’t risk doing too much too soon.
Cultural change is incremental; pushing too hard, too soon, too quickly, usually results in push back. What we need is engagement— energy that pushes forward. Cultural change takes time; leaders need to stick with the plan even when nothing feels like it is changing. Progress is revealed when we focus purposefully on ethical change, bringing our teams and the organisation with us, and liberating our leaders to lead the way.
4 – Honour the past to move to the future.
All too often, cultural change efforts are launched with a blank slate approach, a fresh idea to shake things up, without acknowledging the untold human effort and the work hours that have made the company what it is today. Appreciating what it took to achieve what we have now acknowledges the legacy of those who have gone before and the parts of the culture that already work.
5 – Don’t expect change to happen around you.
If you don’t change, nothing will. The epicentre of real change is You. Your behaviour as a leader speaks volumes to those who follow. Become the values, live the practices, you want to see in the workplace. Be the change and a walking example of what you espouse – live the dream and make it real for all to see.
Change is the only constant – directing it in a thoughtful and reasoned way will improve your business. Just like any project; alignment, communication and transparency across all areas of the organisation are key to a successful transformation. For guidance on leadership during times of upheaval, Keogh Consulting is ready to help you make the change you want to see in the world.