Three Important Steps for Changing Office Culture

Joseph Stubblebine
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A company's office culture plays a big role in everyday operations, affecting everything from hiring to employee performance. If the culture in your office is unproductive or negative, positive changes can have ripple effects throughout the company. Though change may be slow, these steps can make it less painful.

Make a Plan

A culture shift is a huge undertaking, particularly in companies that have been around for years. Before you try to change your office culture, create a plan. List the aspects of the current culture that aren't working and why. Then, find more positive alternatives that you'd like to see in the new culture and identify specific behaviors that you want your staff to develop during the shift. Keep in mind that since you cannot have complete control over your employees, the actual result is likely to be somewhere between the two extremes.

Once your plan is complete, measure your own behavior against it. Do you embody each aspect of the new culture? If not, you must either change your behavior or alter the plan. During the shift, employees will look to you as an example, so it is crucial to make a plan that is achievable and sustainable.

Target Office Influencers

As with any organizational change, a culture shift is not going to appeal to everyone in your company. Instead of trying to win over everyone in the office, start with the key influencers. Look for people who have the strongest pull in the company, whether it is by merit of seniority or sheer personality. In meetings, what person do other employees pay attention to? Who do they respect? Who do they go to for advice?

Once you've identified these people, explain to them that you are considering a culture change and lay out your reasons. Ask them to be a part of the process. Once you have their commitment, lay out tasks that align with your overall plan for changing the office culture. When your most influential employees are engaged in the new culture, other employees are more likely to follow suit.

Reward Positive Change

As your employees begin to shift toward a new office culture, it is crucial to provide positive reinforcement. If you want to create a more collaborative environment, be generous with praise for employees who work together. Don't keep your praise behind closed doors; offer it up in company-wide meetings, or make note of it in weekly update emails. By making your accolades public, you send a clear message to other employees about the behaviors the company values in the new office culture.

Though changing your company's office culture can be a long process, staying organized can save a considerable amount of time and energy. By using a systematic approach, you can make change move quickly and with less resistance.

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