Where Your Organizational Culture Meets The Road

Transforming Organizational Culture - Where Your Organizational Culture Meets The Road
Summary: “Strategy and culture should have breakfast together.” — Max McKeown

Transforming Organizational Culture: An Action Plan

You might wonder how to translate positive experiences, like team-building workshops, into real sustainable culture change. The first step is getting a collective picture of your desired culture and then strategically working together to manage that change. Creating your desired organizational culture isn’t just about good feelings. You nurture it by measuring and managing specific procedures and behaviors over time.

Transforming Culture In Larger Organizations
Discover key learnings, smart exercises, and 3 great case studies that will help you identify your next steps in fostering a vibrant, high-performing work culture.

For example, a multinational, commercial transportation manufacturer espoused work/life balance; however, their Korean company showed “long hours” in their annual cultural values assessment. Rather than just create a promotional campaign to reinforce the espoused values, management knew that in order to shift the culture, they needed to institute processes and accountability to create real change.

They established an acceptable level for overtime, reviewed the hours in a weekly manager meeting, conducted an analysis on each previous month’s overtime (including personal interviews), and created more accountability between managers and team members regarding appropriate prioritization. Each task was assigned and tracked in their quarterly organizational culture development plan. Managers were held accountable for the results.

Collaborating on culture with various parts of the organization—including the top leadership team, HR, communications, and strategy—is critical to shifting cultural values and behavioral norms.

Structures, policies, procedures, and incentives reflect the value systems of the current leaders and the institutional legacy of past leaders. They dictate what behaviors are acceptable and encouraged and what behaviors are unacceptable and discouraged.

The following are examples of some of the most important policies, procedures, and programs that should reflect the organization’s espoused values:

  • HR processes and structures need to be consciously aligned with the wanted culture. This includes employee selection, evaluation, development, and remuneration.
  • Leadership development and management training programs should include training and reflection on values, culture, and wanted behaviors.
  • Organization-wide values-awareness programs should be established and maintained.
  • Reinforcement materials—including videos, pamphlets, and posters—should be provided.
  • A values-based coaching program and coaching culture should be implemented and cultivated.
  • The company brand and/or customer promise statement need to be aligned with your desired organizational culture.
  • Decision-making processes should be values based because they allow us to break with the past and create a new future based on what is important to us individually and as an organization.


  • Have you intentionally reviewed your structure and systems to ensure that they are aligned with your espoused vision, mission, and values?
  • Do you know when and how to make values-based decisions, especially among your top management team?
  • Do you have visible materials to reinforce your wanted values and behavior?
  • Is your brand or customer promise aligned with your company values and culture?

If you answered yes to two or more questions, you are on the path. If you answered no, we hope that this will give you clarity about the way forward. To read more about how to create a high-performing team and organization, download the eBook Transforming Culture in Larger Organizations. The lessons apply not only to organizations, but for any teams.

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