Changing Your Corporate Culture





How To



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Changing a corporate culture is an important task that must take into account the degree of pain which the change will create, and the tolerance upper management and ownership will have in the process. Although the change typically is to take the workplace from traditional to contemporary management, which is more consistently profitable, current employees are not going to embrace the culture change.


Why? Because they have been successful in the existing culture. They will worry about how the change will impact their job satisfaction and future success.


Many people wonder if a culture change is best if started at the top of the organization or with the rank-and-file. This is a flawed question because the successfully changed culture will rest with neither of these two groups. This is not to say that they will not be important in making a culture change happen but the key group in a culture change will be middle management.


It is within middle management that the desire for career advancement is the greatest. Entry level management is interested in advancement they have not fully defined how that advancement will occur. Upper management has less room for advancement and is more likely to depend on their abilities than the culture itself. The middle management of an organization has achieved their position by successfully working within the existing culture and they are most likely to see that culture change will give them a change to be champions of change, a key to their future advancement.


To successfully change your corporate culture upper management must provide a clear vision to middle management of what they culture looks like and how success and future promotions will be achieved. They must fully support in thought, word and action middle managers throughout the change process.


At the same time, it is important for middle management to impress upon their subordinates the critical need of the change of culture. Even with the support of upper middle management the new culture will not take root lovesick grows from the bottom up.


Researchers at Ohio State University have concluded a study of between 1980 and 2005. Looking at 10 policy areas, they found a remarkable connection to the policies of the company from which they were spun off.


This further exemplifies the difficulty with which culture can be changed. Corporate cultures are well ingrained at all levels of an organization. New people to an organization complain about certain elements of a culture, but once they start to follow the accepted culture of the organization they begin to find success. The more they follow the culture, success continues.


When they reached the upper levels of the organization, any proposed change to the culture is a threat – why would they want to change a culture that made them successful? So how do you change the corporate culture?


There are two ways that cultures can be successfully changed.


From entry-level up.


Most experts will tell you that this is impossible. They are incorrect. Cultures have been changed from the ground up when the culture has been so oppressive a mutiny occurs. Workers at the lowest level of the organization can create a culture that slowly passes up. It is a very difficult and very rare process, one that is not recommended.


From the top down.


To be successful in changing a corporate culture, it must be sponsored by the highest levels of an organization. Sponsorship does not mean approval – it means participation. Unless the top levels of the organization truly want change, it will not happen.