The influence of aspirational and challenging strategic goals is also a potent driver of culture and behavior change. In a retail banking initiative for which I was project manager some years ago, the challenge was to shift from an operationally based culture to a customer focused one. One approach we used was to develop organizational level as well as branch specific goals to create a powerfully motivational driver for employees to change mindsets, behaviors and workplace processes to become more customer focused. This bank moved from the worst performing bank on a set of customer service metrics to the best within a period of six years.
The punch-line is that senior leaders must be very clear about not only the alignment (or misalignment) between strategy and culture, but also look for opportunities to use compelling strategies and goals as motivators to change behavior and shift culture.
In many respects, middle managers can have a greater impact on organizational culture than senior leaders. Managers interact and influence employees more directly than anyone else. They have the ability – whether they are aware of it or not – to create their own sub-cultures and drive new behaviors. A close relationship between senior leaders and mid managers will maximize the ability to ensure that there is alignment between corporate level values and behaviors that may be cornerstones of overall corporate culture- like safety or ethical business practices – irrespective of local business unit needs and the work these units perform. Without close interaction with senior leaders, front-line managers can interpret local needs in a personal way that may be completely out of alignment with what the rest of the organization requires. For example, senior leaders in a large banking group may place ethical practices and behaviors at the center of their organizational culture, however a branch manager in a local branch of a third world country office may interpret ethics very differently based on local common practice and what he or she interprets as necessary to transact business at a local level. Culture change initiatives should place significant emphasis on the role that middle managers perform especially in global organizations.Download Article 1K Club