When people don’t like the way things are going at work they quite often start to say “We need to change our culture.”

This is a very big mistake, for the following reasons:

  • Telling your employees that they need to change their culture is an insult, pure and simple. How would you like it if someone told you that you need to change your culture?
  • It causes an amygdala response, which makes it very difficult for people to learn new things and also triggers fight and flight effects such as resistance, absenteeism, and undermining.
  • Focussing on the process is a waste of energy. Why focus on “culture change” when you could focus on “happier customers” – a worthwhile outcome.
  • Nobody really knows what you are talking about, anyway. Nearly everyone has a different definition. Sure, there are science based definitions, and the most useful ones relate to engagement, but that is not what most people mean.

I suggest you focus on the outcome, rather than the process. “Let’s work out ways to make our customers as happy as possible” is way more attractive to employees than “Let’s change our culture.”

See? Change efforts go far better when they don’t start with an insult.

If you do want to measure engagement, which is a scientific perspective on culture and drives positive outcomes such as productivity and employee and customer satisfaction, click here.

Andrew Marty

Managing Director at SACS Consulting
Andrew is a qualified psychologist who has over 25 years of human resource management consulting experience, including extensive senior executive search and selection experience.
Andrew Marty