Changing Habits to Enable Culture Change

In a recent session with a client’s senior leadership team, the group finalized the “ready to share” draft of their organization’s desired purpose, values, and valued behaviors. This process is a lot of hard work; they stuck with it and developed a very solid statement.

Once they publish this purpose, values, and behaviors statement, expectations and scrutiny from all staff will increase; this team understands that. As we finished the day, I explained the best practices for them, as senior leaders, to emphasize BOTH performance and values with their direct reports. I described how, in day to day conversations, during field visits, etc. these leaders must change the way they discuss expectations with their staff. “You do not need to spend more time with your staff at this stage, but you do need to change what you discuss and what you emphasize with them,” I said.

I asked one member of the team who is responsible for field operations to serve as an example. He typically spends 2+ hours on field visits meeting with facility managers. I explained,”You must shift your focus with that facility manager from primarily discussing performance metrics and opportunities to balancing performance discussions with how well they and their site leaders demonstrate and reinforce the organization’s desired values.” The blood drained from his face – he said,“I don’t think I can do that! I’ve been doing these meetings the same way for years – I wouldn’t know how to change them.”

Refining Behaviors to Emphasize Values

Typically leaders have well-developed habits for managing staff and expectations. Some of those habits serve them well – and some don’t. During a culture change initiative, leaders need to:

  1. clarify and share specific expectations (as this team is doing with their newly defined purpose, values, and behaviors), and
  2. demonstrate commitment to the purpose, values, and behaviors by acting on them and emphasizing them consistently.

If a leader’s current habits are not developing a values-aligned organization, he or she must change daily practices through development of new habits. Desired habits will enable  leaders to live the espoused values of the organization and to coach and celebrate others doing so each day. Changing daily practices is about creating new habits: clarify desired practices, evaluate current practices, then close those gaps! Research says that developing new habits requires demonstration of new behaviors for 21 days – no time like the present to start!

One suggestion: consider finding a mentor or coach who can help you understand how others perceive you, whether you are being consistent with values-aligned behaviors, etc.

What NOT to Do is as Important as What TO Do

Like the senior leader who told me this week, “I don’t think I can do that!,” identifying how to more effectively lead a values-aligned culture requires a conscious strategy of deciding what NOT to do . . . which will enable time to DO the important things required of the servant leader. One of our most successful culture clients told me, “There is NOTHING more important for me to do than to talk about and reinforce our desired culture!” Early in their change process he spent about two hours per week focused on their desired culture; as the process evolved over a year, he found he spent about 10 hours per week proactively managing their desired culture. He certainly watched key performance metrics but did not micromanage them.

With dedicated effort, your new habits will be comfortable and will generate immense synergy in your organization with a balanced focus on performance and values.

Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.

Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.

podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.

itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.

The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

, , ,

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes