How Do You REALLY Increase Employee Engagement, Productivity, And Retention? - CiteHR
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The change management industry has long defined culture alignment as aligning your culture with your mission, strategy and goals (MSGs).

That is immensely important. But we’re doing corporate America (and the rest of the world) a destructive and costly disservice because that laser focus on business processes as the root of change has led to a shameful 70% failure rate.

The reason is because the viewpoint is incomplete and, while well-meaning, relies on an out-dated model of human behavior that assumes people will do what we tell them to do because ‘we are the leaders of this company’ and if we just properly align sticks and carrots we can lead them to water.

Focusing on the MSGs attempts to change behaviors by changing people via the environment rather than actually changing the culture.

No matter where you sit in the nature/nurture debate most, as well as mountains of psychological research, would agree that after your third, fourth of fifth decade on the planet you are pretty well set in who you are.

There is (almost) nothing I can tell you that will change your behavior for the long-term.

No workshop, no team building exercise and no turbo-charged, uber-dynamic silver bullet will change your culture. Culture change is a process that isn’t accomplished at an executive off-site or over a six-month consulting engagement.

It’s hard and takes dedication.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that making some tweaks to the existing process by incorporating other disciplines, such as psychology and organizational design, ahead of the work around MSGs can significantly increase your odds of success.

It is an on-going process that isn’t ‘solved’ in time for your next quarterly business review. But, rather, it should be a component of every one.

Culture change occurs when a company undertakes the long process of understanding who they are and making systemic efforts to bring in people who fit the desired culture, manage out those who do not and consistently reward the desired values.

The process must start by understanding what drives your incumbent employees today. This upfront research allows you to understand the reasons change may stall, how quickly you can push certain changes in the culture and where the sub-cultures are that already embody the desired change.

1- Understand the values of your incumbent employees

2- If that’s not what you want, tweak a couple but DO NOT throw out everything (any change is hard, wholesale substitutions are almost impossible)

3- Create processes around hiring, developing and rewarding those values

4- Align the MSGs to ensure business process fits with how you desire work to get accomplished, what you want rewarded and how you want teams to interact

5- Internally ‘brand’ your culture

Focusing on the MSGs is vital. But you can’t start on #4 just as you can’t stop after #2.

There is an art and a science to culture change. But no matter who you are or how great your ‘new’ MSGs, you are not going to be able to turn that block of clay into an impressionist oil painting. Employ some science to understand the medium with which you’re working.

Roundpegg,
Sounds like culture change is the new buzzword to replace engagement since no one seems to know how to effectively create a fully engaged workforce.
And if it is as you say a task of aligning employees with the desired culture and MSGs, it will fail. People simply don't like being told what to do or what to think. The best culture is the one every employee already believes in which is one with the highest standards of all the common human values such as honesty, openness, respect, knowledge, industriousness, and the like. That said, telling people what to do constitutes disrespect of them just the opposite of what is needed to get them to unleash their full potential on their work.
Best regards, Ben Simonton
Leadership is science and so is engagement

Ben,
Looks like we\'re singing from the same hymn book. My point was just as you say - employees won\'t change because they\'ve been told to.
However (and this is a big one), there is no one right culture. The values you point out *should* be table stakes for a company to remain in business, but they don\'t necessarily dictate how work gets done. The goal of aligning (NOT changing) culture is that we feverishly rally around those common values by identifying what we already have and ensuring all of our actions from hiring to developing to engaging are in alignment with that.
Thanks for the note. We\'re on the same team here.
Brent

Brent,

Same team? I am not so sure. I don't agree that MSG's are critical and your approach strikes me as being based on command and control. Commands to get control of behavior and values only gets you compliance and poor performance because it naturally demotivates and disengages employees. It is only through autonomy that you get engagement and very high performance.

In addition, employees have the right culture to support any MSG, but only if management allows them to use their culture. As to culture, employees all agree what are the good values and that their opposites are bad values. They all have different standards for the good values, but all agree that a higher standard is better.

The basics - the employee's job is to decide what to do, when to do it, how to do it and then do it. Management's job is provide whatever the employee says they need to do that, to do a better job, a support/help function not a function of giving orders/direction. The old saw is that employees don't care what you know until they know if you care. Showing that you care can only be done by supporting and helping them with whatever they say they need be it information they want, better tools, better training, or whatever. That can only done by asking them, listening to their needs 24/7, and responding to their satisfaction or better. Because of their natural culture, only things meeting or bettering their own personal value standards will satisfy them, and only the very highest standards of all things will satisfy every one of your employees. That is the route to the very best culture as well as the very highest performance by employees. Stephen Covey wrote that the possible performance gain is 500% and my own experiences as an executive/manager bear out Covey.

I started out using command and control, but after I shifted totally away to the autonomy and support model I learned that most of the poor performance I was trying to change with my commands was being created by my commands. Once I changed my approach, I was able to create highly motivated, highly committed, fully engaged workforces with very high morale and innovation literally loving to come to work and over 300% more productive than if poorly engaged. The performance of these workforces was simply too amazing for words.

Best regards, Ben

Leadership is a science and so is engagement

Maximum impact leadership skills for managers & executives to drive huge gains in productivity and innovation.

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