Culture as a Management Practice

Walking the Talk

On February 27th Walking the Talk in Brazil hosted a breakfast session with Walking the Talk co-founder and Executive Chair Carolyn Taylor, which triggered some great insights in the group. 

Check out the ten topics that summed up the core of our conversation.

Culture as a Management Practice | Organisational culture transformation

  1. Culture is management practice, not a project. The topic may emerge in the company as a project, however, achieving the culture strongly wished for is an endless undertaking, since cultural needs evolve throughout time, demanding new behaviours. The HR team may be responsible for some processes, nonetheless, everyone must be hold accountable for this mission, which must be embraced by the business’s management and the leadership’s attitude.

  2. We understand culture as behaviours patterns that are encouraged, discouraged and tolerated throughout time. The questions we must ask are: which are the key standards for the future of our business? Will we achieve the results if we fail to behave accordingly or, from a different perspective, if we keep on doing things as usual?

  3. Culture, behaviour and results are all connected. A leader’s attitude has an effect. If a leader can not handle bad news well, for instance, problems are not reported to him/her and, therefore, are not solved. Indexes showing the effect on results will convince the most sceptical leaders of the impact of this topic on the company’s future.

  4. To manage culture, keep focused. Changing just one behaviour demands a great deal of effort. Focus on up to two values that, if implemented, will leverage others. Impart to all employees what is expected from them, and be aware of how the messages are being perceived.

  5. Praise good examples: those who behave as expected. Employees aligned with the culture must serve as role models. Praising those doing things properly is more effective then criticising those not acting accordingly. At the same time, establish a level of tolerance, and do not ignore inappropriate behaviours. Have the courage of going through difficult talks whenever someone pushes the limit. Culture is also shaped by though decisions and silent “NO”s.

  6. Early adopters become ambassadors of culture change. Others will follow gradually, until the company reaches its tipping point, the moment when most employees embrace the new culture. Some will fight against it for longer, up to the moment they start feeling uncomfortable. It requires patience – the tipping point does not happen in a month. Those who cannot or are not willing to change will inevitably leave the company. When a cultural change undertaking is well done, 25% of the original team might leave the company, including the leadership.

  7. Choose and use symbols that clearly convey where you are heading to. Striking attitudes are the metaphor for this change. Some symbols might be changing how leaders use their time, and how the money is invested; promoting high-potential people and firing those unwilling to change even after feedbacks. Indeed, leaders are the greatest symbols the company can have.

  8. Indexes of changes might serve as an example of new behaviours being adopted in the company. If the company wants to be more innovative, making a record of how many ideas teams are presenting and their outcomes for the company could be the first step. Establish business indexes: the impact of the new culture on the company’s performance must be rated to serve as relevant evidence for the organisation as a whole.

  9. If the company’s top management is not engaged at first, it is possible to begin the change from middle-level managers. This requires identifying high-potential leaders who know they can make a difference. They must be given proper encouragement to support their development and simple ideas to carry out on their daily routine towards the desired company. However, engaging the top management is still a target that must be met if we want to have significant cultural changes.

  10. If a cultural change is on the right track, one of the best moves is to entice new talents. News spreads fast, and a work well done will appeal to other professionals. More then maximising the effects of a good story, make the effort to boost a new experience with your stakeholders.


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