Those New Values Won't "Fix" the Culture

Those New Values Won't "Fix" the Culture

“They were wrong!” he said.


“Who?” I asked Ethan, an ex-colleague at a professional services firm, during a Zoom meeting.


“HR!” he said, his face reddening on my screen.


“What did your HR team advise?” I asked.


“They told me that if we workshopped and launched new values, we would see change within the business. However, it's a year later, and we're still the same slow-moving, stodgy, bureaucratic organisation we've always been!” he replied.


Ethan had been taught that the way to change workplace culture was to design and launch new values. This advice was misleading.


Eager to help my ex-colleague, I asked a follow-up question, “What have you done to embed the new Values following the launch?”


“Not a lot, really,” Ethan admitted.


Ethan had not done the work to bring new values to life every day at work.


Despite a new value statement – Be bold, be agile, be innovative – employees at his firm continued to do things the same old way. After all, these ways had always seemed to work well for them in the past, so why change now?


Meanwhile, customers were increasingly frustrated with the bureaucracy and poor service levels at the firm, and competitors had moved more swiftly to enable enhanced customer experiences.


Ethan was beginning to realise that culture change was a complex, adaptive challenge and that creating an agile, higher-performing culture at the firm would take more than crafting new value statements.


Launching new values is the first, not the final, step on the culture change journey.



Read another bite-sized story: Don't Shoot the Messenger!


Siobhan McHale is the Executive General Manager – People, Culture, and Change at DuluxGroup, an international paint company (based in Melbourne, Australia). Siobhan is a “culture transformer” and is passionate about helping people to create better workplaces. Need to change your workplace culture? LEARN HOW with the 4-STEP SOLUTION, in Siobhan’s book 'The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change', available now on Amazon. 


0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe