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the external and internal environments

People think culture needs to evolve. Here’s how to make it happen.

Now more than ever, workplace culture can’t go undervalued. In our 2018 survey of more than 2,000 people in 50 countries, one finding stands out: employees feel less positive about their workplace culture than their employers.

It’s an issue that’s urgent and undeniable. A whopping 80% of our respondents say their organization’s culture must evolve in the next five years for their company to succeed, grow, and retain the best people. Backed by decades of research from our global Katzenbach Center, here are five ideas for leaders now.

People say workplace culture needs to change

Five actions to evolve the culture in your organization

1. Address where your culture and your strategy clash

Address where your culture and your strategy clash

A growing number of C-suite and board members view culture as a critical strategic topic: in fact, 71% say culture is an important topic on their agenda, a notable jump from 64% in 2013. But for the influence of culture to translate into real business results, culture, strategy and operations must be aligned.

Achieving this alignment demands a deep understanding of where your culture is today, and then envisioning its ideal state. Ask yourself: how is the current culture supporting our intentions? What needs to change?

“No culture is all good or all bad. Every culture has emotional energy within it that can be leveraged.”

Jon Katzenbach
Founder of the Katzenbach Center and author of The Critical Few

2. Change your listening tours

There’s a notable difference between how leaders view their culture, and how their people see it. This gap speaks to the perpetual challenge facing
every leadership team: translating high aspirations for culture into day-to-day actions, and bringing others on board.

It takes more than ordinary listening to get a true understanding of the culture at your organization. Instead, challenge and foster healthy debate and real feedback from people across departments and across levels. Connect with people who are emotionally astute and who have insight into what people care about most. These “informal leaders” — employees who may not hold an official leadership role, but who have a ground-level view of the organization’s
cultural reality — can be a powerful force in accelerating behavior changes.