Here’s How CEOs Can Implement a Successful Culture Transformation

The idea that the right culture to exist to allow the transformation of an organisation is nothing new.

However, changing culture in organisations that are most in need of transformation – where hierarchy, tradition and process have often been the mainstays to ‘the way it’s always been done’ – is one of the biggest challenges. Below Nicola Hinds, Strategy Director at Great State, explains.

Those whose transformation programmes are flourishing are prepared to invest heavily in shifting the cultural perspective to one that embraces change and has the momentum to drive it forward.

What makes it more challenging is that without desire and commitment to change already in place, organisations are struggling to recruit (and retain) the right sort of entrepreneurial talent to drive significant transformation forward.

The absence of this talent, pushing change both up and down, makes it hard to see any significant shift in culture.

With these aspersions in mind, we recently conducted some research into what is actually standing in the way of digital transformation and establish practical ways to overcome this. Lack of talent was ranked as the number one blocker to transformation (culture came in a close second), which was reported most strongly in the charity and traditional banking sector.

Interestingly, LinkedIn’s data supports this. It shows a 32% drop-off in candidate interest in roles at traditional banks over the last five years compared to a 40% increase in roles in cryptocurrency, fintech and challenger banks in the same period.

The fact that 80% of the blockers and enablers in our research reference culture/people in some way, is a call to action for organisations. It’s hard to categorise so many complex issues around developing the right culture to allow transformation to flourish – but some common themes based on our research include:

Employee communication

Having a vision is not enough.  It must be communicated and embraced by everyone.

This doesn’t mean a snappy statement on the wall in reception. It needs to be a living and breathing embodiment of the business, constantly referenced and stitched into new products and services, changes in process and team structure.

Everyone must be engaged in driving forward change with recognition and encouragement from the senior leaders that transformation is led from all levels of the organisation.

Attract the right people

Since mass adoption of the ‘the internet’ in the early 90s, employing people with the right skills to deliver against digital needs has been a constant struggle.

This is not a new message, but the stark reality is, that the lack of digital skills is still real and holding many businesses back.

More traditional organisations need to work hard to define (and live up to!) their employer/employee brand to ensure they can attract the right talent to move transformation forward.

Engage the end user

Often the ‘people at the coal face’ are best placed to deliver the type of innovative improvement that adds value to the organisation and their consumers, IF they are given the right landscape to operate in, along with support and empowerment.

There are numerous benefits in engaging the ‘end user’ when shaping a solution. Not only do you deliver a more effective product, they are much more likely to be adopted and succeed in the long run.

Equally, end users should be encouraged to develop and run their own transformation projects. One of the benefits of flexible funding means that ad hoc developments can bubble up and be taken forward.

Balance internal/external resource

Many organisations ‘buy in’ resource to support the transformation process. This can prove to be a successful catalyst to kickstart programmes, but there needs to be balance between internal and external resource to achieve long-term sustainable transformation.

Building a culture that embraces sustained transformation is something that cannot be achieved overnight. It should be led from the very top and combine myriad incentives to ensure behaviours don’t slip back to ‘the way things have always been done’ when things get difficult.

Ultimately a holistic approach that ensures people feel engaged in the process and empowered to make a difference will deliver the most long-term value.

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