Changing the culture of an organization provides great rewards to a company however it can also be difficult to pull off. Listen as Prasad Kaipa discusses several of the ways that change can be implemented as well as several common pitfalls to watch out for.
There are two different perspectives we can take. One, if the organization wants to change the culture, that means people who are part of the team want to change the culture, their approach is going to be very different. If the top management team or the CEO wants to change the culture it’s a different path. Let’s start with the second one. If the CEO wants to change the culture, I found the majority of the time, the CEO has to watch his or her actions a lot more carefully. and find a way that those actions are correlating with words. The reason for that is, not only the management team- people two levels below, three levels below, people who do not have direct access to the CEO, they only see the actions of the CEO, they may not exactly know the words of the CEO. So if there is consistency between actions and words, that generates a trust and willingness to follow the leader. I found that is the most important part and the part that is most neglected by very capable very intellectual CEOs. Without walking the part, the culture change is going to be very temporary, it will be forced. The second thing I found about changing the culture is the willingness to be vulnerable. To say, “I don’t know, I need help” and say, “Can you help me so we can both go much faster?” When you raise these questions, I found- and by the way these are difficult things for CEO’s to raise because ego and how other people are willing to take advantage of the vulnerability, all those situations really do happen, but if there is courage to really confront one’s own fear, like whenever a person says, “That’s not going to happen” If you can open it up and make other people help you, then they start taking ownership in the area that you have weakness. The majority of the time, in addition to the CEO, other people are also in charge and you need to help them take ownership and accountability and responsibility for it. When the team begins to take responsibility for the culture change, not just the top dog and CEO, then you have 10x the sustainability for one, the culture change to happen and number two, become sustainable over a period of time. So the last point that I always say is appreciation. You have to figure out how to catch people doing something right. Because the more you appreciate people that are doing what needs to be done, that means if some people are demonstrating the behavior you want in a changed culture, then make them the role models, amplify their behavior let what they are doing to be seen by other people. Like Alan Mulally, I have seen him do that consistently in a 777 culture in making that an extraordinary culture when compared to Boeing. First, a certain amount of role modeling, walking the talk, Second willingness to take on vulnerability and take on responsibility, third, appreciating, what you see as a changed behavior amplifying it so other people recognize “the CEO is appreciating this behavior, we also want to appreciate this behavior so we will begin to do it. Somebody said, it’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. So culture change is a powerful thing that happens through a lot more appreciative inquiry and honesty and authenticity rather than through forced change.
Prasad has been an advisor and coach focusing on innovation and leadership since 1990 for about 120 C-level executives in Global Fortune 500 companies. Prasad’s unique competence is in helping his clients find their next significant step and take it. He found that unless he helps clients to examine their signature strengths that have turned into “core incompetence” and kept them stuck, it is difficult to ignite and channel their creativity to come up with innovative decisions, products, and services. He assists clients in becoming effective in managing people as well as oneself (personal mastery), getting reenergized and building new capacities, and exploring more risk taking, innovative, and strategic decisions.