27 Aug How To Truly Change Organizational Culture
In the age of coworking spaces, incubators and global connectivity, organizations of all sizes are looking for ways to foster collaboration within their workplaces.
What’s behind this?
Thanks to technology, it is easier than ever to exchange ideas across company and country lines. The rise of innovative companies like Facebook and Google certainly spotlights their casual, highly interactive work environments in the public eye. And as the business world struggles to become more inclusive, organizations are feeling pressure to create space for all employee voices to be heard.
No Cure-All for Culture Shift
The quest for collaboration drives all kinds of decisions: HR initiatives like mandatory team-building retreats and diversity training, architectural changes like cafeterias designed to push solitary researchers together and open-floorplan offices. Some tactics have been successful; some not so much. A recent study found that “rather than prompting increasingly vibrant face-to-face collaboration, open architecture appeared to trigger a natural human response to socially withdraw from officemates and interact instead over email and IM.”
What works well for one company may flop at another. Even within a single team, different employees will respond differently to any given ‘solution.’ A unilateral decision to put new policies and structures in place will rarely turn the tide – even if they worked elsewhere. The key is Discovery: understand what makes the company tick, who and what drive company culture, and the true desired outcomes of ‘increased collaboration.’
Food for thought: Is collaboration really what your team is missing? Most likely, the right move will be a combination of best practices. A custom solution bringing out the best in employees and what the specific company culture has to offer.
Solving a problem in a group leads you to more good ideas but fewer great ideas. The opposite is true if you solve it alone.
— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) August 22, 2018
And any change will take time to settle in, with tweaks along the way.
The Importance of Internal Communication
Employees are the most important brand ambassadors. They determine the quality of customer interactions; they paint the company’s reputation in the public eye. The organizational culture must serve them, and they must feel a part of creating and maintaining a positive, productive work environment.
Before putting a new system in place to increase productivity and collaboration, start by improving communication and transparency with and among employees. Not only will this promote deeper engagement, but it becomes the foundation for a successful rollout of any changes made down the line.
Is everyone informed regularly about the company’s goals, victories and new initiatives? Do you have consistent staff meetings? (And be honest – are they a waste of everyone’s time?) Is there a regular internal email update that all employees receive? Does the company have a style guide? A clear social media and communication policy that empowers the entire team to represent the company to their communities? Who is responsible for keeping staff informed, asking for their feedback and putting it into action?
Approach any change within the company, major or minor, by involving staff first. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to a foundering workplace culture – and the success of any initiative depends on the buy-in of your people.
What changes and tactics (successful or not) have you seen put in place to make an office more collaborative?
Behaviorist Clara Mattucci is vice president of operations at GillespieHall. With a focus on research and tracking social trends to inform PR, marketing and digital promotion, Mattucci leads the team in creating and executing strategies that change behavior and build brands.