Culturally Inclined – The Story of Implementing a New Company Culture
“Change is easy to propose, hard to implement and especially hard to sustain” – Andy Hargreaves
Change is never easy but is essential in order to move forward. Only when we have the capacity to change can we expect a revolution in our lives. This is even more relevant in the world that we live today. To not change is almost like a death sentence. So, as a forward-thinking organization, we need to constantly be in a process of evaluation and re-evaluation to see what needs change. How can we improve? Can we do something better? However, talking about change is easy. And since we are creatures of habit, executing change can be the hard part.
In my previous blog, I wrote about how we decoded our company culture so that it became an enabler of success. This exercise was very intense and comprehensive. After careful assessment and deep calibrations, we were able to identify the four pillars of our company culture that would be the guiding principles of the way we conducted ourselves and our business. As a company, we had always been strong about our value system and felt that our company culture was quite strong. At the same time, we also felt the need to break it down…decode it in a manner that it helped the people within the organization execute themselves and their responsibilities with precision. Having identified Excellence, Ownership, Compassion, and Openness as the four unshakable pillars and highlighting what these meant, the job of decoding the company culture was complete. Or was it only beginning?
Well, one part of the decoding exercise was complete. We knew what our company culture entailed of. We had, with great precision, defined it. But how were we to implement it? We were clear from the beginning that this was not one of those exercises that you conduct, complete and forget about. We had to ensure that everything that we did, all the activities that we executed, the manner in which we worked and interacted with our clients and with one another was connected to these pillars and interwoven into the very fabric of the organization.
Clearly just documenting our company culture was not enough. It was now time to reinforce these cultural elements into the activities, processes, systems of the organization and our team members. The reinforcement process started with intense discussions with the leads, managers, delivery heads and also our backbone teams comprising of the department heads of HR, Admin, Finance, Sales, and Networking. We picked each other’s brains to define company policies and ensure that each of these policies was linked to one or more of the cultural elements. So, for example, when we were implementing a ‘Late Stay’ policy, we linked it to the Compassion pillar. Along with defining new policies, we conducted an exercise to map all the existing policies to identify which ones remained relevant and how they could be connected with the cultural pillars of the organization. Further, we also put a process in place whereby we ensured that each of these policies is reviewed each financial year. This step made sure that we were proactive in our policy management and could assess if these policies needed any changes or additions.
It was also quite evident that along with business processes and activities, we had to implement this culture change to the other departments and aspects of the organization. So, we made sure that even the hiring and onboarding of a new team member was linked to these pillars. We place a high emphasis on cultural fitment as well. Therefore, during hiring, the HR manager ensures that she evaluates the candidates from cultural fitment perspective. During the onboarding and induction process of the new recruits, the HR team members ensure that they emphasize the value of the cultural pillars and their importance within the organization on the first day itself. They also chalked out a plan where on the 15th day of the induction the new team members would be taken through these once more and also held detailed discussions on the policies and their association with the cultural pillars.
To engage with the team members on this parameter, we also assigned a dedicated HR partner to each member. This gave them a ‘go-to’ person to speak with when faced with any concern. Gradually we began to notice that everything that we did, the manner in which we worked, the initiatives that we took, all began to get easily linked with our cultural pillars. To give a few examples, we linked performance management to Excellence and Ownership, rewards and recognition programs to Excellence, Ownership, and Openness, even the dedicated HR business partner roles and responsibilities was linked to a cultural pillar – Compassion.
Was it an easy task to decode our company culture and implement it across various functions within the organization? No, it wasn’t. But it certainly was an exercise that helped us connect better with our team members and determine the language that we would speak across the organization and establish and sustain a positive work culture…one that was an enabler of positive actions in our workspace.