Author Topic: HR Can’t Change Company Culture by Itself  (Read 881 times)

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HR Can’t Change Company Culture by Itself
« on: June 27, 2018, 01:29:56 PM »
HR Can’t Change Company Culture by Itself
By Rebecca Newton NOVEMBER 02, 2016

A strong culture is vital for organizational success – as evidenced by the relationship between culture and leadership, employee commitment, customer satisfaction, and innovation. But “strong” doesn’t mean fixed. As the organizational goals and strategy change over time, so too should culture intentionally be changed. The best leaders ask, “Who do we need to be (culture) in order to achieve what we’re trying to do (strategic goals)?” But there’s one barrier that holds many organizations back from genuine and successful culture change: ownership. The first question to ask when culture change is on the horizon should not be, “How do we go about this?” but rather, “Who owns this?”

The answer is, too often, HR. Recently, I spent time with one of the world’s largest financial institutions, in the process of changing their culture. They have a significant call to change, an official remit to do it, yet one major challenge of ownership. And as with most medium-to-large organizations, official responsibility for shifting organizational culture lies in the hands of senior HR executives and their team.

True culture change means altering the way the organization lives and breathes. It shapes the way people make decisions, get their work done, what they prioritize, and how they interact with colleagues, clients, and customers. It is really only successful and powerful when business leaders see it as their responsibility, and see HR as a resource for helping them achieve it. Consider a recently published longitudinal study by Anthony Boyce and colleagues that found culture “comes first” in predicting sales, as mediated by customer satisfaction. Surely creating that culture is just as much of a sales concern as an HR priority.

That’s why culture change has to be a collaborative project. HR leaders can help business executives successfully execute culture change by doing four things:
Facilitate the research phase
To move from A (existing culture) to B (desired, future culture) we often spend a lot of time and facilitate conversation and consultation deciding on B, but not enough time having a tangible, meaningful understanding of A. What do we look like now, at all levels — values, behaviors, processes, policies, artifacts? The larger the organization, the more variety we’ll get in what A really looks like across the firm. Business leaders need to know, and HR can be a huge resource in facilitating this process.
Convince leaders culture can change
So many senior leaders I meet are, in reality, very skeptical that culture really can change. And rightly so. Most have only seen culture change when drastic internal or market circumstances have forced it upon the organization. This skepticism is justified, as there are many examples of culture change not transpiring despite all the “talk” or of the change not turning out well. HR can help by sharing examples of how organizations have, in line with their long-term strategic objectives, proactively and positively driven culture change.
Then teach them how to change it
We can’t assume business leaders will know what to do to influence culture. Some may have the expertise already, while others may find that it comes somewhat instinctively. But for others, even the most senior leaders, it can be a new and uncertain path. Few will have been involved in leading culture change before. It is not enough to engage business unit leaders to get their input on what needs to change and their buy-in to the initiatives. Only when we equip business leaders with the skills to drive culture change can we then give them ownership and hold them accountable for its success.
Have a formal “handoff” where the project is handed over to the business
As soon as the time comes to shift from A to B and start making changes to facilitate the new culture, the message to business leaders should be clear from the very, very top: “This is not an HR project, it’s yours.” HR is there to support, help, and facilitate the change — much as an outside firm of experts would be. But ownership of making these changes does not lie with them; it lies with the business unit leaders themselves.

We need to be clear that in the life cycle of an organization, culture can and should change. And this change is best led from the very top, driven through equipped, accountable business unit leaders, working collaboratively alongside HR.

Md. Shahanur Alom Zibon
Career Development Center (CDC)

Daffodil International University (DIU)
Phone:+ 88 02 8130864, 8129177, 8129402 Ext:400
Cell: 01914276847

Address:Daffodil Tower, Level-04, 4/2 Sobhanbag, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1207 Bangladesh.