Cultural Change Programmes
Cultural change that’s action-based, human and founded in what really matters
The culture of your business affects everything. From how your service is designed to how your teams work together. That’s why, to create truly customer-centric change, you need a culture that puts people first. We can help you uncover the cultural values that make you “you” and then design a change programme that inspires and engages the people across your organisation. Whether you’ve merged, rebranded or simply need to increase focus on customers – we can help.
Organisaitonal Culture Change
We design and implement cultural change programmes that focus on creating active, sustainable change grounded in what customers want and what matters most to colleagues. Moving away from passive, top down programmes to practical, bottom up and action-based way of doing things better.
Human-Centred cultural change
Our cultural change approach is about fundamentally shifting how you do things, at every level, to create better outcomes. Put simply, it’s changing “how you do things around here”. That’s likely to cover how you treat customers, how you treat each other, what you prioritise, how you work together, how you go about solving problems, how you make decisions, how you react and change to customer feedback, how you respond to innovation and your appetite for change.
A simple approach to cultural change
Define what needs to change: Listening to customer and colleagues to really understand what matters – then link this to what this means for how you do things. Teams respond far better to this approach (driven with their need and customers in mind) to senior leadership or board diktat.
Condense feedback into a simple truth or focus: Creating a simple, clear focus that captures the “why” behind the cultural change helps everyone get behind it. This could be a single principle, defining your “why”, a heartfelt manifesto or a simple statement of intent – understanding your business and customers will usually suggest one approach fits best. However you convey this message – what’s important is it’s authentic, honest and grounded in what customers and colleagues want.
Agree what this should like like: Define what your focus looks like in practical terms. In behaviours, decisions making, recruitment, customer journeys, operational model, cross-team working. Engage with leadership and team – working with them to define what this means for them. Examples and stories of the change in action (and how it’s benefited) help reinforce the why and explain the logic behind the change.
Support and enable (don’t tell): Work with your organisation to help them find their own ways of making this focus a reality. Focus on toolkits, collaborative workshops and business-wide problem solving that are sustainable over big-bang or celebrity-focused solutions that tend to create a lot of energy but don’t always follow through. The objective is to develop tools so teams can be self-sustaining rather that require constant support or monitoring.
Proving your change: “Show me the change you want to see” – consistently demonstrate the positive impact of change on “how you do things”. Keep a balanced approach which focuses as much on the operational and service delivery as it does on behaviour and attitude.
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principles we always follow
Every cultural change programme is different but there are consistent principles we always follow:
Listening to what staff and customers want: The best organisational cultural change happens when it aligns with what your customers expect from you and the type of place your staff want it to be. We can engage staff on the journey to defining the kind of organisation they’d be proud to work for, and understand the core value customers expect from your service.
Defining the reason to change: The most effective change starts with a compelling reason to do so. Without it change can be lacklustre, ineffective or short-lived. We’ll help you craft the burning platform that gives energy to you changing the way you do things.
What makes you you? Understanding where you are now and where you want to get to is critical to keep focus and bring meaning to the change you’re trying to create. Define the kind of organisation that would enable you to get to where you’re going (grounded in customer and colleague feedback) and what you could be on your best day. Use this to create direction and concrete examples of what the change could accomplish.
Being honest and authentic: Corporate values often get treated with an air of cynicism not because they’re inherently bad but because there is sometime a disconnect between what an organistion says it is and what its culture actually looks like. We call this the “cultural gap”, and is the space between “What we say we are” and “How we actually behave”. Closing this gap, or being open and honest when you’re not there yet, build credibility into the change.
Leadership walking the walk: If you want to create change, it has to start at the top. That means working alongside leadership to support them in walking the walk. Understanding the cultural fit of their leadership style, their dynamics as a group and opportunities for personal development. It’s also about understanding the realities and pressures they face to help ground everything in their day-to-day pressures.
Action speaks louder than words: Our approach to changing culture is less about what you say you are and more about demonstrating action that proves it. Too many change programmes involve dragging everyone into a room to tell them how the world could look, teaching them what that means and then setting them out into the wild. All too often, after an initial flurry of energy, the enthusiasm wanes as nothing seems to have changed. The focus should always be on action over sentiment.
Culture doesn’t change overnight: Shifting behaviour isn’t a quick fix. It doesn’t happen overnight and needs gentle and consistent support from leadership. We find most cultural change doesn’t need external help after the inital few stages but it does need to be treated as a long term, iterative piece of work.
Collaborative and with you, not to you: Right now, across your organistion, staff will have ideas and solutions that could profoundly impact on how you deliver your service. All too often staff aren’t given the opportunity or the platform to voice these ideas and be supported to make positive change through them. Our approach is about empowering teams to collaboratively find solutions themselves – and support them in making these a reality where possible.
Acknowledge and challenge silos: Tribalism is completely natural in any group of people, and it has a lot of benefits in allowing teams to work well within their area. It can also be destructive and damaging to a cohesive, friction-free business. Acknowledging silos and making them a priority focus helps break down walls that often prevent change from happening.
Make it practical: Cultural change shouldn’t stop at a few, wafty behaviours. It needs to shift “how you do things”. Impacting everything from the way you deliver your service to how your teams work together. Shifting cultural change from abstract concepts to concrete shifts in doing things helps ground it in reality.
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Types of cultural change
Change can come from a variety of places and each one requires a slightly different approach and has different considerations.
Following mergers: It’s always worth conducting a “cultural fit” exercise when two organisations are merging. This allows you to see, upfront, where the differences and similarities lie. Mergers naturally bring with them a lot of change and uncertainty – and the change will often feel “done to” rather than “done with” for colleagues. This makes shifting culture during and soon after mergers a delicate affair.
Following rebrands: With rebrands it’s often about linking your new brand position (and likely values) to real, actionable change. There’s sometimes cynicism around corporate values, which, from our experience this is often down to the “culture gap” – the difference between what an organisation says it is and what you actually experience. The key to culture change in rebrands is to go beyond the values, logos and colour schemes and engage colleagues in exploring how your new proposition will impact operations, service delivery and the “way you do things”. This moves it from the hypothetical to a range of practical outputs and changes.
Leadership change: Changes in senior leadership naturally invite change in focus or perspective. These are fantastic opportunities to go out and listen to colleagues ideas on how they’d like the organisation to change. Leaders who engage everyone (customers and colleagues) in setting and defining their new vision help bring people along for the journey and make the change feel collaborative.
Becoming customer-centric: Change that involves becoming more focused on customers is as much about operational service delivery as it is about training or skills. It’s about reviewing the way you do things and asking if your customers are at the heart of those decisions – regardless of whether those departments are customer centric or not. Don’t focus the “need to change” purely on the front lines – they’re likely being hampered by operational factors which need addressing. Use teams closest to your customers to explore and understand what it actually feels like for your customers and where you could improve. Go beyond the stats and top line figures and ask leadership to go out and actually experience what it feels like to be a customer.
Market shifts/innovation: Challenger brands and technology mean most organisations are having to take a look at how they do things to explore where they should invest their energy and how they can be more agile to shift with market changes. Culture is important here because it defines “how you do things” – which means it will impact your decision making process, how you capture ideas from within your organisation, how nimble you are to make change, how attentive you are to understanding (and acting on) customer feedback and how much bureaucracy and politics hamper your velocity to innovate.
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