Changing a culture is a monumental task. There are so many personalities that impact the environment. Some people can do wonders for the culture and other can be down right toxic. You cannot change people or their personalities but you can create a healthy environment and choose the behavior that is acceptable.
Recently, our team had the challenge of a lifetime. Over the past two years, we brought two completely different cultures together as one. To say the least, it was an extraordinary situation and one of my most challenging career endeavors. It took a lot of grit from my and my managers. Not only did we have to bring two companies together as one but we also had to do it for the better part of two years in two separate buildings.
I remember at the beginning I thought we were doing a great job keeping everyone focused, informed, and excited about the future. We were in the process of a new building build-out and we would eventually bring everyone under one roof. Exciting time, right? Wrong! It appeared not everyone was as excited as I was. Some employees did not want to relocate since they would have a longer drive and some employees just did not have to come together with the “other-side.” We actually felt the rift between the “North” and the “South” buildings. (That is what we called the two location.)
As we got core and closer to the move, the negativity was at an all time high and alliances were forming. As the leader of this team, I could see it all transpire and I was desperate to break down the walls and make sure we were creating an “US” environment. I knew we had great people in both buildings and we could be a huge force to be recon with, if we could just get out of our own way.
At the end of the day, the culture is what we all make of it. You will always have your bad seeds you have to contend with you address those people quickly. For the most part, people are good and they want to enjoy their days at work. People do not want to be around the negativity since is breed more negativity. Employees cannot thrive in these types of environments.
In order to change the culture, you have to address issues head on. You can not ignore what is going on around you. I promise you, it will not go away by putting your head in the sand. The problems only get worse Get the negativity out of the building and do not tolerate it moving forward Surround yourself with good people who are also culture champions. Yes, you have to make some tough decisions but those decisions make your organization better. You can be open and hear people out but employees should come to you with a solution for each problem. It is too much to take on if you try to fix every problem that comes across your desk. First of all, on one is that smart and no one as all the right answers.
Make sure your team knows they are the culture! They will take pride and ownership over this responsibility. Your job as the leader is to foster that culture and get out the negativity. If negative people know they are not going to be heard, they either leave or they stop complaining. There is no room for negativity in an organization. If there is a problem, empower your team to fix it. Empower your team to create the culture. Remember, it is always a work in progress so never take your eye off the ball and continue to fine tune.