How Culture Change Acts as the Catalyst for All Other Change

business culture company culture culture change transformation Jul 22, 2018
ants working together
Culture change is one of the hardest and slowest elements to influence in a business, but it can be the most rewarding thanks to its impact reverberating through the entire organisation.


Once upon a time there was a company that wanted its staff to be the best they could be, for its teams to be innovative and for its clients to receive an excellent standard of service. Every Monday morning the company would produce a report about the previous week’s activities. This report celebrated the number of billable hours their teams had completed – the more the better, because this meant the organisation was efficient.

Or so they thought.

Upon reflection, they realised that by setting their staff targets for the number of billable hours they had to complete (and by threatening those who didn’t meet the target with redundancy) they had actually created a culture that was the opposite to everything they wanted it to be.

Staff were unable to “be the best they could be” because they were not allowed to attend training as this would reduce their billable hours.

Innovation was discouraged because failure would reduce their billable hours.

Staff couldn’t spend an extended period of time understanding a client’s requirements because this wasn’t billable either. Equally, staff would take their time on a project if it meant they could squeeze an extra hour of billable time out of it, thus creating a situation where it was actually costing the business more than it should have done to deliver projects.

Something had to give.

Changing the culture of a business of this type and size (it was a multi-million-pound, global business) could not happen overnight. It committed itself to a long-term, multi-year cultural change project that gradually introduced new systems and processes, and which focused on a different set of metrics to measure success by.

The first, immediate and most effective (and also most simple) change was to remove the Monday morning billable hours report. What gets measured gets managed, and so a new rule was introduced that no one was allowed to be judged entirely on their billable hours.

Instead the focus was placed on customer satisfaction, along with other measures such as employee engagement, professional development and time spent on innovation.

Gradually, over time, the culture changed, and the business did indeed achieve its goal of high levels of staff and client satisfaction.

Cultural change is one of the hardest and slowest elements to influence in any business but is the most rewarding because it acts as a catalyst for all other change. A gap analysis of your current to your desired target culture will identify the path required. An engagement programme with all levels of your staff will then help bring them on the journey with you. Getting this right will influence every aspect of your business and make your company a truly great place to work.

If you are about to begin a transformational change project but are unclear as to how the culture of your organisation will impact on its success, why not get in touch. We can help you understand your culture and make suggestions for how to implement your change project effectively. No pressure, no hard sell, just a friendly chat to identify some potential solutions to your challenge.


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