[read time: 4 mins]
Hidden within the fabric of your organization lies a set of beliefs, behaviours and values that form the basis of your culture. Although values rarely need to be changed, if you are interested in shifting towards a culture where successful execution of your strategic plan is the norm, the beliefs and behaviours that are getting in the way of action and accountability do need to change.
Since behaviours are essentially beliefs turn into action, shifting the culture of your organization starts first with uncovering and challenging the assumptions that drive the beliefs and behaviours that are inconsistent with action and accountability and then ensuring that rewards (and I’m using rewards in the liberal sense of the word to include both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards – praise, raise, bonuses, promotion, etc.) are linked to specific performance.
Here are five questions that senior teams can ask themselves to start to uncover the hidden truths in your business to build a culture of getting things done:
What one behaviour do we, as the senior team, need to start modeling that will dramatically improve the behaviour of everyone else in the company? Few people look down the organizational chart for cues to model their behaviour as a leader; most everyone looks up or side-to-side. Behavioural change within an organization is most successful when it starts at the top. Don’t underestimate the impact that even the smallest change in leadership behaviour can make on your entire organization.
What company-wide assumptions and beliefs have shaped what our organization looks like today? Shared beliefs are a large part of making sure everyone is on the same page, aligned, and moving in the same direction. The trouble comes when we fail to stop every once and a while to examine whether or not these beliefs are still true. Take a long hard look at what you may be doing on a regular basis simply because that’s the way “we’ve always done it”. Challenging assumptions that run so deep that they have become the core beliefs that underpin how you run your business day to day will likely uncover some hidden truths that are actually roadblocks to growth.
What do we need to start believing, in order to guide the desired behaviours going forward? What do you need to start believing about your business in order to keep moving in the right direction? These new beliefs will shape the attitude and behaviours that will be adopted by the senior team, and trickled down through organization, to guide a new culture of getting things done.
How can we link performance to rewards? The foundation of changing behaviour is linking rewards to performance, and making the links transparent. This tells people what’s valued, and what they should focus on. If you reward and promote people for execution, your culture will change.
What kind of people are we looking for? Have ever you noticed that when you have a critical, time sensitive, core objective that you need to delegate, there are a few people in your organization that you turn to every time? Take note of what it is about those few key people – the people that get things done – and make sure you include their core attributes and strengths in your hiring criteria.
There is no better time than right now to take an honest look at what’s really happening in your company. Understanding how unchallenged assumptions and shared beliefs are contributing to the behaviours that are holding your company back from really getting things done is the first step in creating a culture that sees consistent growth and achievement.
BIV Boardroom Strategy – Beliefs and Behaviours – August 2010