One mistake many owners and managers make is expecting too much from their written policies. Having written policies is important, but you can’t expect words on paper to form your company’s culture.
For example, a company may have a policy against sexual harassment. However, the policy isn’t going to stop inappropriate behavior. What will stop the inappropriate behavior is the ingrained attitude in employees that sexual harassment isn’t acceptable.
In other words, with or without the policy, the employees wouldn’t accept being bullied by a co-worker, and they wouldn’t tolerate witnessing somebody being bullied. Nobody is arguing you shouldn’t have a sexual harassment policy for your company. You should already have one in place. If you don’t, you better make one ASAP.
The point is you want to get to your staff to the point where they behave because of their core values, not because you have instituted a policy. So, how do you get your staff to that level?
This doesn’t only pertain to rules, but to your company’s workflow, logistics, or any other operational processes. If you want to introduce a new way to ship your product, you want your staff to see the value of the new process and accept it for its positive benefits, what you don’t want is for them to accept it only because it is the “new rule,” and they don’t want to get in trouble.
Changing Company Culture Begins At The Top
It all starts with top management and how each one of them carries and models themselves. Leadership matters, especially when it comes to getting people to accept change.
A manager or executive who carries herself and performs her work following not only the core values of the company but also with her intrinsic values will have a far more significant effect on people than one who is merely sticking to a policy manual.
Remember, policy manuals are supposed to be guidelines to help people solve problems. They are not intended to be rules for people to follow lock-step. Managers who act out of fear of a policy instead of following it because they genuinely believe in its efficacy aren’t being honest. Their teams will quickly see this and could lose respect for the manager and/or the new policy without giving it a fair chance.
Resistance Is Normal, So Be Prepared
People don’t like change. Once they have a particular way of completing a project or doing a task, they don’t like changes to their norm. And why would they? Afterall, the norm has always worked, and they don’t see why it should be changed. It’s normal for people to resist change, especially if they don’t understand it.
This is why you should explain any change to your policy or process to your staff before you implement it. You should also explain to your team, especially new hires, that your company culture is one of efficiency and responsiveness. This way, they understand why things must change, and it gives them time to prepare.
Equal Parts Consulting understands that company culture is not built overnight. We help companies create cultures that emphasize fluidity and acceptance of rapid change.
If you foresee any new changes coming to your industry or company that could affect the company culture, we invite you to contact us. We can explain how to make the transition easier for both the employees as well as management.