Are you familiar with at least some of these thoughts about cultural development?
- “Culture? That can be everything and nothing – not tangible at all.”
- “I know it’s important, but I still haven’t managed to make sense of this topic.”
- “You can’t really influence culture.”
- “In order to change our business culture, we’d have to replace our entire staff, at least most leaders and managers.”
To begin with, we want to make the topic a bit catchier with the following minimal definition of business culture: “The way we do things around here”. This includes how managers lead their teams, how we treat each other and ourselves, how we make decisions, how efficient, effective, and cross-silo people work as well as how open to new experiences and how entrepreneurial they are
The biggest challenges in working on corporate culture
Many decision makers in organizations would like to have the opportunity to actively design their corporate culture. Especially big and/or long-existing companies often have an urgent demand for a development from risk aversion to increased renewal and from individualism to more collectivism. This development is necessary to enter new markets, master digitization, respond more flexibly to clients’ needs, be efficient, and achieve high employee satisfaction and engagement.
Some – unsuccessfully – try to change culture with a “managerial attitude”. That is, they focus on processes, clear quantitative goal-setting, giving instructions, and changing structures. Others simply give up and come to the conclusion that a blurry concept like culture just isn’t in their sphere of influence.
Actively design culture
To make cultural development more tangible and transfer it to daily business, changes in the “How?” should be tied to concrete changes in the “What?”. A specific leadership style, for example, supports the development of new products.
However, during such a process, a few aspects remain open that can and should be managed: Frequent employee appraisals with supporting processual and content guidelines may somewhat increase leadership quality, for example.
True cultural development however, only occurs if a critical mass of individuals work on their individual behavioral and thought patterns, supporting each other in doing so. That leads to a change of how things are done in the daily “How?”. People treat each other differently, dare to step out of their comfort zone and come to a new definition of their roles as employees and leaders.
Some people believe that humans just aren’t able to really change. Creeds like “You either are a born leader or you aren’t a leader at all” reduce people’s confidence in their ability to change.
From a psychological and empirical point of view, that is just wrong. Many characteristics, also personality traits, are not completely innate or unchangeable. With the right amount of motivation and professional and cooperative support extensive change is possible, even probable.
Concrete actions in the Timmermann style
In order to develop a company culture consciously, we work very closely with our clients in a transformational relationship. Together, we set up a specific program that works through concrete measures, e.g.:
- Cultural diagnostics
- Topteam development and team development for pivotal teams
- Special large group events with “moments of truth”
- Change leader trainings
- Training, introduction, and continued support of a cultural ambassadors network
- Shadowing and coaching for intensive work on individual change
Our psychological expertise and our change spirit help us to explain exactly why and how changes in cultural and individual patterns are possible. At the same time, we enable our clients to really understand and change themselves