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Sustaining your desired culture

4 min read


In my monthly SmartBlog posts, I’ve described The Ken Blanchard Cos.’ proved culture-change process, outlining steps leaders must take to proactively create a high-performing, values-aligned corporate culture.

Key activities discussed include setting clear expectations for performance and for values, then holding self, leaders and staff accountable for exceeding production and citizenship standards each day. A vital accountability tool is the custom values survey that enables employee feedback, twice each year, on the degree to which leaders demonstrate defined valued behaviors.

Proactive culture management is not something most leaders know how to do, yet the right culture can increase employee work passion, performance and profit. These powerful benefits often inspire leaders to come to Blanchard for help with refining their corporate culture.

Understanding these key culture activities is one thing. Putting them into place is a bit more complicated, but doable. However, creating standards and refining systems doesn’t immediately translate to leaders and staff embracing the culture. Senior leaders must become champions of their desired culture, investing time and energy each week in proactive culture management.

Responsibility for corporate culture cannot be delegated to subordinates; the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of senior leaders.

Serving as a culture champion typically requires a major shift in how leaders see their jobs, as well as in the way they spend their time and energy at work. The only way we’ve had success enabling this shift is through one-on-one process coaching.

Culture-process coaching means that a Blanchard culture-change consultant works with the senior leader (usually the president of the organization or division) via monthly phone calls and periodic face-to-face meetings. The focus of these conversations is fourfold.

  1. Helping the senior leader guide and coach senior leadership to be of “one heart, one mind and one voice” regarding the culture-change initiative. The senior leader must boldly demonstrate desired valued behaviors as well as praise and encourage others when those folks demonstrate desired values. When senior leadership is not aligned to the culture change, the refinement effort has little hope of success.
  2. Learning from the senior leader how the organization is responding to culture-refinement activities. Leaders “on the job” are experts on whether other senior leaders, managers and staff are embracing or battling shifts required to be great corporate citizens in every interaction. Traction toward your desired culture truly occurs only when the change process adapts to the organization’s ability to make those shifts.
  3. Keeping our proved process on track. Blanchard has learned during the past 13 years which culture activities need to happen in what order. It is the responsibility of the consultant to guide the senior leader in keeping the best-practice flow of activities intact while customizing the pace of activities based on the organization’s reactions to these activities and standards. If the organization shifts slowly, activities must roll out at a slower pace.
  4. Transferring “culture change implementation skills” to the senior leader. Blanchard’s desire is to “multiply our hands,” creating savvy culture-change experts wherever we can. Process coaching helps create culture champions who build high-performing, values-aligned workplaces wherever their career takes them.

Process coaching lasts as long as the senior leader finds it of value. For most clients, coaching lasts 18 to 24 months.

A select few clients chose to go it alone, without process coaching. Their culture-change initiatives did not gain traction, nor did they enjoy the benefits the rest of our culture clients enjoyed (increased profit, wowed customers and passionate employees). Process coaching — closely tied to how well the organization is embracing culture-change activities — is the most effective means of sustaining your desired corporate culture.

Creation of a safe, inspiring, fun, productive workplace takes effort. What thoughts do you have about proactive culture management? Join in the conversation in the comments section below.

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