Keep Culture from Becoming Just a Words on the Wall

In our last post, we talked about using a blueprint to change your company’s culture to a high performing one based on team accountability. After highlighting the six steps in this blueprint, we discussed the first step in detail, defining the desired outcome. The most important take away is that leaders relay to their teams exactly what success will look like. This is where leadership must take time to clearly paint a picture of the results they desire, so they can communicate it to their teams.


Show Your Teams What Success Will Look Like

For example, if an organization wishes to create a culture of quality, leaders must answer questions like:

  • What does quality look like in each department or functional area?
  • How will quality be measured in each area?
  • What will be different once the desired results are achieved?

Unless you clearly define the desired outcome, you will be engaging in what author Rose Fass calls the chocolate conversation. Ask a group of people to tell you the first thing that pops into their head when you say the word chocolate. You will then get responses ranging from chocolate cake to hot chocolate and everything in between.

The same thing happens when you too broadly define a desired outcome like “creating a culture of quality”.


Step 2: Identify Behaviors, Beliefs and Experiences

Today, we will talk about identifying the specific behaviors, beliefs and experiences that lead to success (the desired outcome or results).


Changing Behaviors to Reach the Desired Outcome

When embarking on a culture change, leaders must answer the following questions when sharing their vision of change with their teams:

  • What are the behaviors that lead to your desired outcome (for example, quality)?
  • What are the beliefs that lead to your desired outcome?
  • And what are the experiences that lead to your desired outcome?

Continuing with the example: how will a culture of quality bring success? It is here where leadership must define specific behaviors or actions that lead to quality.


How Does Changing Behaviors, Beliefs and Experiences Lead to Success?

Here is an example of a behavior that would lead to quality for a manufacturing team:

Let’s say any team member who notices a problem would immediately bring it to the attention of a manager. If team members are willing to engage in this behavior, they must believe they will not be reprimanded for doing so.

Therefore, it is critical that early in the change process, managers create the experience where team members who call attention to a problem are celebrated and held up as role models.

This video talks about culture change in the work place. As you will see, it is easier to change the behaviors that will lead to success. How can this be done? Because you will change how people feel at work: they will be motivated by good experiences.


Unfortunately, even with all good intentions, this is where a lot of organizations get it wrong. Leadership starts talking to teams about change and the idea of change, but there is no follow-through.

And it causes vision, values and descriptions of culture to be just words on a wall. Without specifically defining the behaviors, beliefs and experiences that lead to your desired outcome, you are just engaging in “chocolate conversations” with your team.

Stay tuned to our next post as we define step 3: assessing the gap of what gets in the way of change.


Contact me here to see how I can help you form a clear vision and a feasible plan for your leadership to get teams ready for positive change and team success.


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