So, you’ve undertaken some form of culture review, you’ve identified some key items and actions, but where do you go next?
It can feel almost overwhelming when you receive a culture review report – you often have a variety of things you need to address, you recognise that you need to do them all and trying to work out which ones to prioritise can be a real challenge. Add in executive or a board seeking an action plan and there’s high pressure on you to deliver and quickly.
Having been the recipient of a publicly available report into sexual harassment, discrimination, and predatory behaviour in the police, I hear you. You have X number of recommendations and issues – where on earth do you start?
Here are my thoughts on what to do post receipt of your culture review report/results.
Take a Deep Breath
Firstly, take a big deep breath – it can feel quite overwhelming. But remember you never eat an elephant whole – bite sized pieces is the way to go.
Culture isn’t created overnight and change takes time – the most important thing to do is to take those first important steps.
Also remember, you don’t now hold all the responsibility for the issues and opportunities identified simply because you have your hands on the review report. The report and recommendations are owned collectively and the responsibility to make change must also be a collective one. Your role is to work out what changes are needed and the action needed to take that first step forwards.
Strengths based focus
We all talk about strengths-based approaches for people, and having a growth mind set and, in our opinion, culture work is no different – if we can identify aspects where our culture supports people to thrive let’s capitalise on them, maximise them and celebrate them.
Read the culture review and look at what you are strong at doing. Are there ways you could you maximise this strength further, what might that look like?
I’m a glass half full person. Rather than focusing on ‘everything we are bad at’ I try to look at the opportunities. There are always opportunities to improve – read your culture review report, identify those opportunities, review them with your context, your people and the external and internal influencing factors in mind and do something.
Every opportunity you take has impact.
The real issues – from the people
Hidden amongst most culture reviews is the voices of your people – listen to them. You will see the priority areas they want to see changed from their perspective. These are often not the same as the priorities of the executive team.
I remember reading one review and thinking ‘everyone wants a strategy’, yet when we engaged with people who lived and breathed and delivered services for the organisation, they actually wanted flexible working arrangements. Invest the energy into the things that matter most to the people.
Every opportunity is interwoven and interconnected with something else. And that means it can feel awesomely overwhelming. But it equally can be overwhelmingly positive when you see those connections fire up and have effect.
Take that blank sheet of paper and map out the connections – there is nothing like a good old brainstorm to work out how everything connects to identify which steps might be the best change enablers first.
Every time I’ve received a culture change report I literally sit there with a blank sheet of paper, writing and connecting to see which elements are the ones that matter first to the people of that organisation.
Those connections matter – they can influence success or failure in this space.
I hate this phrase profusely – yes, these are the things you might be able to do quickly, but do they really have the impact you are looking for?
While creating a form/records/poster/charter (insert the ‘quick win’ items here) may feel comfortable and easier to do, I doubt it will have the impact you want.
Key questions to consider: will this support employees to thrive here? Ask yourself, “Is this simply ‘box ticking’ adding little to no value for the people in our organisation?”
When we want to make a change, we can’t come running in with big ideas with a big sell expecting everyone to jump on board the change express train as we depart to the next station. It’s about building receptivity to the change – explaining why you need the change and what the options are. Showing the thinking behind a strategic change or why a reactive change is necessary and essential.
When you build receptivity to change well, it will be all hands-on deck and you will experience a much smoother journey.
This also means being aware of the change curve and where people might sit on it. Focus on those that can be influenced – far too often we focus on those that are the pessimists amongst any change and often these are the employees who will never see any change positively. Focus for the positive majority versus negative minority.
And this takes me to the……
BIG, tricky items that matter
There are always those items that I refer to as ‘humdingers’ in any culture review – you know those big things that feel almost impossible to achieve.
Those things that feel the hardest thing to achieve, like rolling a giant stone up a mountain, are often the ones that really matter to your people– they are the big change enablers of culture and if you focus your efforts on planning and executing on them well, they are the ones with real tangible impact.
And when you deliver on them, you feel that buzz of ‘We’ve done something quite amazingly hard and its worked’!