Last year when a company decided to bring a change in its working culture, a large number of employees got up and left. But for those organizations who are not planning a drastic change in their organizational culture are probably wondering how can they maintain a healthy company culture?
I think it [culture change] has to start at the top and it has to permeate the entire organization. I think you run into big challenges when it’s not at the top and you’re trying to create it only from bottom up,” said Jay Ferro, CIO at American Cancer Society, while speaking to host Sanjog Aul, during a talk on Maintaining a Healthy Company Culture.
But before companies embark on a huge transformation such as this, they must be ready to embrace a healthy failure before things even enter phase one of this change. Additionally, accountability, transparency, and a commitment to open and honest collaboration are some of the things to remember for organizations readying for their first steps.
A healthy culture is going to embody some of those qualities,” says Ferro.
Richard Branson, Founder, and CEO of Virgin a conglomerate known to possess a great working culture says, there’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.
And that is a great reason for a leader to even start thinking about changing or maintaining a healthy company culture.
Playlist: Why Culture is Important
Ferro’s reason to aspire for a great working culture for American Cancer Society was to create a more transparent organization. “We were not a collaborative organization. We spent way too much time dealing with ‘lights on’ activity to an extent that it was not healthy and it had all the bad traits that you can think of: fiefdom, turf wars, failure with fatal – all of these things,” says Ferro.
Therefore, as a leader, if you are not happy with the way things are at your organization, then that’s a good place to yearn for change. But how and where do you start? below are five ways you can foster a great working culture within your organization:
Modeling the Right Behavior Among Employees
“It’s easy for me to say, “look, I expect transparency and I expect all of these things from you,” and then walk away and become this kind of man on top of the mountain. You have to model the right behavior,” said Ferro.
Organizations must push down decision rights to the lower parts of the organization, bring in more accountability and transparency, and empower people to make decisions and tolerate positive failure. “We had open and honest discussions about what was working, and what wasn’t,” he says.
Hire the Right Leaders and Partner with them
Partner with leaders from other lines of business. Whether it’s talent strategy, human resources or corporate communications to help put in more robust communication vehicles in and out of IT.
Trust your leaders to embody the change and spread it around. Once they start laying the threads of culture change into the fabric of the organization, you will see that the right people will stay and change and the wrong will move out since there are so many people leading the right way. “It was very early on that I partnered with our organizational development team outside of IT,” said Ferro.
Introduce the Right Tools
Encourage the use of video conferencing, social media or collaboration tools, and many other such tools. “We are very active on our own internal social media. Take, for instance, Adobe, one of the leading software developers in the world, is often lauded for possessing a great company culture. It uses mediums such as Twitter to share images online with the hashtag #AdobeLife. They also have a magazine which includes some of the highlights of the goings-on in Adobe.
Remember the Overall Organizational Mission
Ferro says I have to be very clear with everybody in IT about what my CIO goals are and how they are tied to the overall mission and goals of my CEO, and the organization.” And if you’re a results-oriented organization, you have to exhibit a similar working culture where you hire good people, provide them with a great working culture and environment and expect them to deliver, keeping the overall organizational goals in mind.
This blog is inspired by a CIO Talk Network Podcast on the same topic. You can listen to the full Podcast.