You need both transformational leadership and strong change management to lead your transformation to success. Transformational leadership includes things you must do yourself to prepare you, your leadership and the organization to begin the work. Change management includes the day-to-day work your team will execute to drive the change forward. This includes communication, education, training, resistance assessments, risk evaluation and a myriad of other items focused on execution.
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Nowhere does an organization’s culture become obvious than in a large-scale change or a transformation project. Cultural norms that are often unnoticed in a day-to-day operation eventually come to the surface. For example, if your leadership team is not fully aligned to operationalize your mission, this lack of alignment is magnified when you want to transform. This results in delays and confusion. Another example of cultural norms going unnoticed is if your transformation purpose is clear, employees will rally around it to help you drive success. This results in faster adoption by more employees.
There are two major elements of culture: structural and behavioral. Structural contributes to the culture by defining reporting relationships, accountabilities, and informal structures employees create in their work with each other. Behavioral contributes to culture in by defining how well people listen to each other, the amount of trust in the organization, and the ability to maintain healthy conflict, among other things.
In a healthy and aligned culture, employees are energized for success. There is clear purpose. Leaders are aligned. One measure is attrition – undesirable attrition is lower.
Many organizations conduct regular employee engagement surveys, but they are often at a loss on how to improve their situation, particularly when there are both structural and behavioral issues. The graphic above defines how structure and behavior work together and provides guidance on the types of challenges an organization might face. Whether you perform an engagement survey or not, you have a sense of where your organization might be in this matrix. Use this as a tool to think about where your opportunities might be, and the kinds of actions you might take to improve the culture.