Communicate to Change Your Culture

Robert Apelgren

In many of the articles and books that are published today, you see a great amount of improvements in different industries and companies using different methodologies and tools. Many times, it seems that if you use the same tools or methods, you should get the same results. This is not always the case. There is an underlying story to a company that excels in making improvements, and that is the culture. I like to think of the culture as the foundation to effective operation. Culture includes leadership, initiative, teamwork and all of the other nice words we love to throw out.

Webster’s defines culture as “All the knowledge and values shared by a society.” I think the interesting part of this definition is the word “shared.” Have you ever been in an environment where everyone seems anxious to pitch in and volunteer to help others accomplish projects? In these instances, everyone has a shared sense of purpose. Each one of them probably knows how important the others and their work are to the overall goal of the organization. This is a powerful motivator, especially when you understand that the success of the organization relies on everyone. That is also why organizations that are not doing very well normally have a very compartmentalized culture in which individuals think that others are “not important and should go away.”

I am not going to give you some five-step process that will change your culture. What I will give you is a simple piece of advice, and that is to start communicating … always. What I am saying is to communicate with everybody you deal with and find out what drives them to do what they do. Shared goals and attitudes are not just sent down from above but are also influenced by the bottom or true foundation of the organization. Remember that the deck-plate workers are the value-adding group for the company and should be a driving force to set the culture and communication. The management and executives should be the facilitators of the communication process.

You will find that programs and projects will start to run more efficiently, and the atmosphere will change. Keep in mind that this is not an overnight change. It will require time and hard work. Take a bite of humble pie and start talking to those around you to find out what their purpose is and where their beliefs are leading them.

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