How can leaders drive change in the work culture?

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 85% of the CEOs and CFOs say that an unhealthy culture will definitely lead to unethical behavior. Further, 9 out of 10 leaders believe that bringing a change in work culture will definitely help in improving the company’s value and performance in the long run. This underlines the fact that leaders acknowledge that an unhealthy culture can have a negative impact on the performance of both the company and its employees. In particular, the disparity in perceptions about the efficacy of the work culture between leaders and employees— leaders feel they are doing their utmost but employees feel they are not committed to improving work culture—can affect business outcomes.

To fix such perceptions, leaders must quickly action changes to assure employees they can trust their leaders. A key change is ensuring employees are given the freedom to speak up about the company’s actions and policies, or offer project-related suggestions especially in the area of innovation. Leaders who recognize and acknowledge employee talent frequently, help boost motivation levels across the organization, nurture an empowered culture, and, in turn, productivity.

Select the right candidate for the right job: Leaders must dig into their resource pool to pick candidates whose skills match the job or who can be motivated to hone or acquire the requisite skills. When employees are committed to their roles either because they are passionate about their work or because they feel they will earn recognition, a culture of empowerment is fostered.

Maintain healthy relationships in the workplace: Developing healthy relationships is key to job satisfaction and tenure in an organization. Colleagues, team members, superiors, admin, HR—the employee’s experience is shaped by day-to-day interaction with all these people. To strengthen such relationships, leaders must drive celebrations, organize social gathering areas, team challenges, etc. Relationships can be nurtured at every level in the organization’s hierarchy. Communication, especially two-way communication, is another powerful tool to bolster relationships. Leaders, for example, can engage employees over a casual chat over coffee, or sports and social activities. This gives both parties a chance to get to know each other at a more personal level.

Feedback: Feedback is important not just while building relationships, but also while assigning duties and responsibilities. When employees undertake responsibilities as part of a certain role they need constructive feedback on how they performed—where they excelled, where they lagged, what can be improved, etc. Asking for the EOD feedback is a good practice, that can ultimately boost employee productivity.

Toward a motivated workforce

The work culture of an organization should be such that it empowers both the organization and its employees. Leaders must build a close connect with their people, listen to them, recognize and acknowledge their skills and talents, understand their values, and over time inculcate organizational values in their employees which helps them align with company goals, values, and culture. These are critical elements in building a strong work culture that empowers a diverse and motivated workforce.

About the Author

Dhani Khanna
Management Trainee