5 ways to influence organisational culture

We are very pleased to give a platform to Craig Smith, Director of Flint Spark Consulting, with whom, alongside Eversheds solicitors, we are running a special seminar entitled ‘Taking The Chance Out Of Change’

The seminar is free to attend and details can be found at http://bit.ly/1y2RaWJ

The most common definition of organisational culture is ‘the way we do things around here’. This hints at the inherently “hidden” nature of culture as something that we only become aware of when we disturb it.

Culture is embedded in policies and procedures and in the conversations that take place within offices, corridors, canteens and car parks. When you work in an organisation, you are both in the culture and part of it.

But if culture is largely unconscious and automatic, how can we go about influencing it or changing it?

Here are 5 pointers for successful culture change:

  1. Start at the top. Too many culture change programmes conveniently ignore the behaviour and conduct of those at the top. Without an honest appraisal of themselves, their own shortcomings and mistakes, leadership teams run the risk of hypocrisy when sponsoring culture change programmes. Executives need to openly share the change they are embracing and talk about the discomfort they are prepared to endure.


  1. Start an organisation-wide conversation. As stated in a recent article by Martin Cook in HR Magazine: “Changing a culture requires a new model of involvement and engagement. This is best framed around a wide-ranging, ongoing conversation about how the organisation can achieve its objectives”. Open up an open and honest dialogue about the challenges your organisation faces and the depth of change required in the future. Engage colleagues at all levels.


  1. Acknowledge behaviour change. Organisational culture can be seen as the sum total of behaviours taking place within in. At first, any change is fragile. Minor and positive changes in behaviour need to be observed, recognised and rewarded at every opportunity. By nurturing many small behaviour changes, successful organisations can reach a tipping point where new ways of working become the norm rather than the new.


  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. This goes beyond the passive newsletters and posters with the big words in the lobby. Create a campaign mentality and open up dialogue across the organisation. Make the communication two-way and use stories to illustrate the vision and progress.


  1. Understand and use the power of symbolism. Symbols indicate status within organisational culture. This includes clothing, office décor, heroes, ceremonies, rites and rituals. Be very careful of any symbolism that represents the past culture and also develop new symbols to reinforce the new.


Culture and behaviour change is effected through the considered combination of managed, visible, and rational strategies with more personal, invisible and emotional strategies like those we have outlined above.

If you would like to discuss your organisation’s culture and how you might positively influence it, visit http://www.flintspark.co.uk/services/culture-and-behaviour-change/.