Leading the culture change from behind

Changing into a winning culture can work miracles in organizations, as long as it is done the right way – and given all the room it needs to flourish.

The first months of 2022 have shown significant signs of relief in relation to Covid-19 and its financial aftermath but rebuilding in organizations has only just begun. While some have not seemingly missed a beat, there are many leaders out there still begging for ways to get their businesses back on track. Various schemes of expansion, focusing, divesting, diversifying, repositioning, and every other imaginable action are being drawn, wiped, and re-drawn on whiteboards all over the world.

For these leaders, change seems imminent. The way it is done is in danger of becoming almost irrelevant, even though that is exactly where the tiny difference between success and failure may lie.

Any successful change begins from the inside

Today, leaders are operating on an extremely short focus. For two years, mere survival is all they have been able to think and as profitability started dipping and customers began looking the other way, bad quickly turned to worse.

These leaders recognize that they are neglecting what they quite well understand is the most important thing in the long run – ensuring that the employees are taken care of in terms of well-being and advancement opportunities. The snowball effect has been evident: employees are turning dissatisfied and starting to resign, while the leaders are being left to keep wrestling with sales figures that are getting worse by the quarter.

Everyone is screaming for positive work culture. Everyone understands that deep down, it is the only way out of the chaos, the kind of change that is needed before anything else. When people feel that their work is important, and that their well-being is valued and looked after, they bring out their true potential for the benefit of their employer.

Change should be able to touch deep

During the pandemic, work culture was largely defined by the level of freedom regarding where work was carried out; the more freedom of choice employees had, the better the work culture. Decentralized decision-making was beginning to emerge as one of the megatrends for any company that wanted to be successful in the new world, so any attempt to give more responsibility to the employees for how they carry out the daily tasks was viewed as a positive move.

However, as changing the culture of work takes place over a lengthy period, the effects of hybrid work principles remain superficial at best. Culture consists of a wide variety of ingredients that go a lot deeper, so understanding the big picture is essential to have any chance of succeeding in a way that makes a difference. While technology allows almost everyone to become a digital nomad, that does not automatically lead to things that at the end of the day make a work culture thrive – and support the employees to bring out the best in themselves.

The fact that employees are looking for clear sense of purpose for their work and need to feel connected with their employer’s mission is clear proof of the fact that the culture of work must be able to be more relevant than ever. Creativity, criticism, and collaboration are core virtues for every employer as both routine tasks and corporate hierarchies are becoming endangered species when it comes to work that produces results.

Change should be constant

As the employers are the ones that form the company, they are also the ones that should be in the driving seat when it comes to determining – and especially changing – the company’s culture. Deep down, that is the outright key in ensuring that the employees can naturally relate to their employer’s way of thinking and doing things. That, again, lays the foundation for positive thinking, engagement, and results.

Times change, and so do employees. Today, there should be no such thing as a culture that is carved in stone. There are companies that change their cultures every other year or so. For some, it happens more gradually, even subconsciously, as new people arrive and provide their opinions about what they feel should be the drivers for the company.

The fact that employees can work from home five days a week does not necessarily make the culture better. The leaders should go deep into the fundamentals of their company’s existence. They should focus on all the opportunities out there, and all that fun they could have while capturing them, if they only would have the courage to change. Properly.

Then, they should just let the employees take over and let their positive energy shine through.


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