Culture Change & Rebuilding Company Morale; How to get it right

Inspired by my LinkedIn Group Activity on the Executive Roundtable this morning, I thought I’d highlight the most recent challenges I’ve seen regarding Company Cultures & Company Morale.

FACT; you don’t change a company culture or morale overnight! There are no quick-fixes. You can’t just give someone a shiny new suit or coat of paint & expect them to be a different person.

Trust takes a lifetime to build & a second to destroy!

Culture Change

We’ve all seen too many organizations that should have been a perfect fit suddenly go “pear-shape” after an M&A process. Why? To start-off with, too frequently the executive who pitched the perfect M&A process hands-off to more junior executives with note-pad & predefined process for the execution stage. Everyday human & business dynamics can’t be managed from a prescription, but rather from an inter-active give-&-take process where every action is measured against the ensuing reaction.. and the most effective adjustments are made. It is indeed just like a science project back in school.

You’re mixing human emotions, experiences & biases.. a very volatile cocktail. Turn your back for one second.. a simple lapse or breakdown in communication.. and your entire science project will blow you, your colleagues & “the lab” up in smoke.

The Perfect Marriage

The secret, just as in any relationship, is to find a way for distinct cultures to co-habitate at the same time that you foster continual development & growth. Look at any perfect marriage & trace its’ roots.. no matter how close or distinct the two personalities might have been when they met, there was a win-win perceived by both, most likely followed with growing pains as they felt their way into becoming a cohesive unit. Constant communication & adjustments fair to both sides (compromises) were critical for overcoming the moments of tension where everything could have broken down. There was negotiation and both sides recognized where they could benefit, at the same time that they carried along running their own personal & professional lives.

The perfect marriage has no resentment.. change is optional, and a buy-in process where all parties win as a collective unit is a must. Isn’t that the expected outcome from an M&A, that the joint parties end-up equaling more than just the collective mathematical sum?

Rebuilding Company Morale

Questions are the most powerful form of communication. You might start off with “where did it all go wrong?” There’s a trick I learned way-back-when I had my first Problem Solving & Decision Making training & that was “root cause analysis”. Wipe your mind clean of any assumptions and track your current situation back through the preceding events that led to your current state. Along the way remove or isolate all variables in order to determine the weight of influence they had on the course of action.

This actually a pretty simple process you can apply to every-day life. Just read each sentence in the previous paragraph out-loud, slowly.. and think through the words you’re stating. Now, objectively.. and this is the hard part because you may have to admit fault and attribute your own actions as “cause”.. think through what actions caused what reactions.

Once you’ve identified root cause.. now you can go about making reparations.

No Quick Fixes

I said earlier that “trust takes a lifetime to build & a second to destroy”. When rebuilding company morale, you must be conscious that somewhere along the line something went terribly wrong, and leadership is always at fault because they (you) allowed it to happen. As long as you are willing to admit your mistakes / short-comings, the things you didn’t intend to happen but did, and are transparent in communicating what you’re willing to do about it, who you’re wanting to engage, and provide a steady stream of communication & update.. I guarantee you will rebuild your company morale.

Recap
  • Iterative, highly interactive & agile response to distinct cultures coming together
  • Clear communication & focus on required ongoing business results in parallel
  • Always seek win-win engagement solutions
  • “Sell” the benefit of continual development & growth
  • Always seek alignment to personal passions as a key accelerator
  • Open communication.. dialogue vs. monologue..
  • Courage to make necessary changes

Last but not least, as Leo Tolstoy once said; ‎“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

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