Cultural transformation only comes with personal transformation

People Resist Being Changed

In a survey of top leaders by Booz and Company last year 84% said culture was critical to success and yet the majority admitted their culture was in need of a major overhaul. So, how do you transform a culture to meet your company’s needs today? How can you get employees or teams to behave the way you need them to execute your strategies and enhance your performance as well as your employee engagement and the customer experience? How do you get the innovation and agility you need in fast-changing markets? How do you get the cross-organizational collaboration that makes one plus one equal three?

You can do that only by improving the behaviors of people. That’s because culture is nothing more than the collective beliefs and habits of the people in an organization. So in the end, you can only transform cultures by facilitating personal transformation in people.

How to change your organization’s culture

Gerstner Quote

Editor’s Note: This post was a very popular post on Switch & Shift and was adapted to include Edgar Schein’s personal meeting room video.

It’s like being lost in the wilderness if you initiate any major change effort in your organization without specifically knowing how cultures effectively evolve or change. It’s one of the greatest leadership challenges, but few truly understand how cultures evolve.

Why don’t most people know how cultures evolve or change?

Culture is a hot topic and it’s all over the popular press whether it’s guidance on “creating” a great culture or coverage of the latest culture crisis.

Values: It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

The Fun Boy Three & Bananarama

In the last twelve months, the topic of values has caught the imagination. Putting values at the center of everything your organization does can make all the difference in engaging and motivating employees and customers.

It is a year this October since our book about organizational values, THE 31 PRACTICES, was published and I wonder if you’ve noticed the increasing focus on values all over the world in this time.

In the past few days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the White House’s rebuke of his country’s settlement construction as “against American values”.  In UK, earlier in the year, The Mail on Sunday newspaper published an article by David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, about British values and the UK College of Policing published the final version of its new values-based Code of Ethics.  Meanwhile in China, the All China Journalists’ Association recently ordered its journalists to learn “Marxist news values”.

How to bring a culture of health, well-being and performance to life

Runner and wellbeing

Employee engagement is all the rage these days. It should be, considering that only 13% of employees feel engaged by the work they do and that low engagement leads to high turnover, which can cost companies up to 150% of an employee’s salary. But with so many factors involved in employee engagement – job satisfaction, stress, work/life balance, purpose, relationships, physical and emotional well-being – it can be tough to achieve. CEOs and HR leaders at leading organizations are learning a focus on employee well-being impacts most factors critical for employee engagement.

The Four Roots of Engagement


Haven’t we talked about employee engagement enough? Nope! Because despite the amount of time, energy and effort that organizations around the globe are investing in helping engage people in work, things aren’t improving much. Weekly pizza socials, guest speakers and telecommuting options are certainly appealing. I like pizza as much as the next guy. And, sure, a monetary bonus and summer hours will certainly put a smile on someone’s face. But here’s the issue – none of these things will motivate your people day in and day out.

These tactics don’t drive people’s discretionary efforts, passion or dedication. It takes a completely different approach to drive a culture of engagement in your organization. You just need to follow four steps that I call the Four Roots of Engagement.