Coaches' Tips: 5 Steps for Successful Culture Change

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Delivering Happiness 5 Steps for Successful Culture Change

We like to think of businesses as machines, but really they’re more like ecosystems. Why is that? From author of Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux, we quote: change happens everywhere & to everything naturally. Imagine what organizations could be when they're not designed as machines but treated as living, growing ecosystems.


With every client, we see their organization as a living, growing ecosystem and this helps to shape the way we approach how to create sustainable, actionable culture change in the workplace. Watch our Culture Chief Sunny dive into our DH roadmap for making change successful:


Here’s a breakdown on the five stages:


1) Inspire - Getting People on Board with “Head and Heart”


This step can be easily forgotten, especially by the ones who want to lead change. To create change successfully, you have to get people on-board, especially those who are you will be key players in implementing change. The way you inspire isn’t just by handing off the initiative (though passively tempting). You have to align people’s personal stories and purpose with the WHY behind the change.


Related: A Study Says Your Company's 'Purpose' Can Increase Returns By 400 Percent. Here's How to Create One That Works


2) Measure - Creating Commitment with Data and Benchmarks


A big mistake we see with companies undergoing culture change is the failure to measure results. Even if the initiative is small, like implementing WOW recognition cards, you can’t know if it’s working without taking a benchmark measurement and comparing it over time. How often are these cards being used? What feedback has been received about the cards? How did employees feel about their teams before implementing the cards? After?


When it comes to a bigger culture transformation, we’ve created the Delivering Happiness Index [DHi] to measure how well your company culture supports the elements of a happy workplace. Before you make changes, have your employees take the individual survey and you can get an organizational report from there. Then 6 months after making culture changes, re-measure. Then for optimal comparison, take another measure at the one-year mark!

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THe roi calculator

Related: 3 Reasons Why You’re Not Putting Real Measurements on Your Culture


3) Define - What’s Your Ideal Culture?


You want a better workplace culture, but what does that mean? To create measurable results and give direction to your teams, you have to define your ideal culture. Put those fantastic ideas for your organizational purpose, core values, and more on paper! Just start defining and then you’ll be able to narrow it down naturally. This is your opportunity to put the flavor of your unique culture out there, so have fun with it and involve your leadership and culture-building teams. If you have core values already, we can revisit them with you in a workshop and help you define what behaviors might support them [bringing us into the next step].  


4) Live - Putting Your Design into Action


At this stage you’ve already beautifully defined the leading elements of your culture: higher purpose and values & behaviors. Now you’ve got to do with walking with the talking! This is a difficult stage for many organizations because it takes patience and it takes some experimenting to get your people to start living this culture. Remember we’re humans, not robots! So handing off instructions on how to live your culture needs a push from leaders to model the culture. This is why in the first stage, the Inspire phase, we focus on leadership alignment and buy-in from key supporters - here is where they’ll come in as advocates and models for your culture.


Need help building buy-in? Download our free 'Why Culture Matters' worksheet. 


5) Evolve - Embed and Adapt Your Culture


From the Live stage, you can take the learnings from what worked and apply it to the rest of your organizational systems and processes. Some include hiring and onboarding, marketing and branding, the physical workplace environment, and company events. Are those aspects of your company living the culture? How can you optimize them so your culture can be truly felt throughout?


One of our favorite examples is from a client of ours, DMG. As part of their focus on culture, they designed a Happiness photo collage sign in their headquarters. This upfront sign is something that employees pass every day on the way to the cafeteria and the photos highlight their employees doing things that make them happy. This is a big, physical reminder for every team member about the importance of happiness at work.


Happiness DMG Sign Egypt


Questions to think about:

  • Where are you on the roadmap? Are different teams/departments in different stages?
  • How are you measuring your changes and improvements?
  • How do you know what your doing is leading to success or moving the needle on a specific pain point?

How are you measuring culture change and happiness in your workplace? Evaluate how much your business supports your happiness: 

GOT 10 MINUTES? UNCOVER YOUR culture savings



About the Author

Briana Krueger

Bri is the Impact Storyteller on the Delivering Happiness team. Working previously as a freelancer, her goal has always been to work with passionate people who are focused on helping individuals and businesses find their purpose. As part of DH, she now gets to accomplish that every day. Bri resides in Arizona and is lucky enough to enjoy the sun all year round.


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