Written by Jaclyn Menendez, Consulting Manager
Your organization’s ability to adapt through change is deeply tied to your company culture. As one CEO puts it, “When I’ve seen organizational agility plans fail, it’s because businesses believed there was an end date to the project or that it was separate from other company initiatives, including culture. Quite the contrary. It should live on as a part of your company’s culture, evolving as you, and your team, do.”1
Let’s look at three ways you can enhance your company culture to empower organizational change to ensure you stay competitive and embrace a brighter future.
1. Emphasize trust and transparency
Our research found that transparency and communication are key components of an organization that successfully adapts to change. Specifically, in these organizations, “Communication is transparent, clear and instills a sense of purpose. It is important that employees trust what is being said and that communication keeps them focused on the organization’s core objectives.”
Trust isn’t something you can manufacture overnight. It requires a positive track record from managers and coworkers that makes people feel supported and understood by those they work with. In other words, your people need to feel like a team and like their teammates and the organization as a whole have their back. This naturally lends itself to a more trusting environment.
When employees trust each other and their leaders, they’re more likely to buy in when the organization attempts to adapt. Employees are also more likely to embrace change when they’re given space and a listening ear to share their concerns, suggestions, and thoughts. Keeping the lines of communication open can help you avoid employees becoming disgruntled and resisting change.
2. Help employees develop their agility
Organizations are made up of individuals, so if you want to achieve a particular organizational culture, it must involve fostering the right qualities and values within your individual employees. If you want to build a culture that embraces and adapts to change, you need to encourage agility among your employees.
The first step is understanding how agile your employees are currently. There are ways to help employees gauge their own agility, one of which is to have them take an assessment. Then, they can work independently and with their leaders to develop certain agility-related skills and attitudes, such as optimism, ingenuity, and emotion regulation.
The benefits of developing your employees’ agility are extensive. In addition to contributing to an overall culture that adapts through change, research shows that workforce agility offers a multitude of positive work outcomes for employees.2 Agility is positively related to innovative performance, organizational citizenship behavior, job satisfaction, and well-being. Agile employees are also less likely to report job exhaustion.
3. Ensure leaders set the tone
According to our research, strong leadership is another crucial characteristic of an organization that successfully adapts to change. That comes as no surprise since leaders play a key role in shaping the culture of their organizations.
One of the main ways leaders influence culture is by modeling behaviors and attitudes they want to see from their employees. Of course, to be positive role models, leaders must themselves be willing to embrace and adapt to change. So, while you’re looking ahead to helping your employees embrace the right culture, don’t neglect your leaders.
Now is the time to ensure your leaders understand the culture you want to achieve and to invest in their development to ensure they’re well positioned to actively promote that culture. For some leaders, this may mean helping them adapt their leadership style to be more people-centered, for example. A leader who makes their employees feel appreciated and heard is more likely to positively influence the culture of their team. Leaders must also maintain a growth mindset so they’re open to change.