An organization’s culture is key to an organization’s success. It is created by history, the nature of the work and the market sector, and held is in place by habit, leadership, structures, processes and current organizational members. This means there are potentially a number of points of intervention when an organization’s culture needs adjustment. Culture is held in place by the beliefs, and habitual interaction patterns of the organizational members. Appreciating Change believes the most effective point of initial intervention is with this ‘mental model’ of the organization, one that is held in the collection social system: effective and sustainable change starts here.

Culture is held in patterns of behaviour: change the patterns, change the culture
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change
Culture is a powerful, and intangible, influence on performance
— Sarah Lewis; Founder and MD of Appreciating Change
 

How do you make your culture better?

 

Positive Workplace Cultures

We know what makes for positive organizational cultures from Kim Cameron’s research into flourishing organizations. He identified an ability to learn from success; to affirm the best in everyone and everything; and virtuous behavior as the three factors that distinguish the best organizations. Leadership needs to model these behaviours, and this is related in turn to leadership authenticity and integrity. At the same time interventions such as positive deviance research and appreciative inquiry help to highlight the best in the organization, its successes and its positive core, and encourage virtuous circles of performance improvement. 

Positive Team Cultures

The basic factors necessary for high team performance are well known: a shared goal, clarity of contribution, social cohesion and so on. However Appreciative Inquiry and positive psychology bring us further insights that add to team performance, for example, the knowledge of members' strengths and the ability to combine them effectively;  creating positive experiences and celebrating success; and, actively working to create a strong team identity and pride. Team cultures of generosity, continual evaluation and feedback, recognition, forgiveness, recognition of strengths, appreciation of difference can be encouraged using approaches such as appreciative team development. 

Organizational Cultural Change

Organisational culture is closely related to organizational identity. It is very important that attempts to change organizational culture address the need for a continuity of identity. Culture change may affect the psychological contract members have with the organization. This in turn affects the level of goodwill and amount of discretionary effort offered by organizational members. Involving as many people as possible in the process of evolving towards a new culture, lessens the risk of disaffection and alienation of members.  The large group transformational methods favoured by Appreciating Change are particularly suited to this challenge. 

Want to see what techniques we use to bring about effective Organisational Change and improve your organisation's Leadership, Culture and level of employee Engagement? Have a look at the Positive Techniques And Tools We Use.