Culture Change Drivers: What Models Do Digital First Companies Employ

CoachHub · 15 June 2022 · 5 min read

Digital organizations often operate in a culture of mission-driven innovation. They are composed of people who thrive on change and have mastered the art of iteration. This enables them to react quickly to market changes, but it also requires an organization-wide mindset shift. Some companies have managed to instill this type of culture change from within, but for many others, it’s been a painful process that required external help in order to succeed. In this article we’ll explore why some digital first organizations are able to overcome their early difficulties while others struggle. Then we’ll examine five proven strategies that can help you get started on a better path today!

Define success and support it from the top

The first step in creating culture change is to define the desired outcomes. The second step is to support them from the top down. In other words, you will set and communicate what success looks like for your organization, and then you will make sure that it’s reinforced by your leadership team from day one.

You may think this sounds easy enough: just tell people what you want them to do! But if you think about it more deeply, there are several layers of complexity here that need to be addressed:

  • First off, there has to be alignment between the values of an organization (its purpose) and its culture (how people behave). If these two things aren’t aligned then there won’t be any momentum behind making changes in how things get done or why they’re important; instead everyone will keep doing what they’ve always done simply because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”
  • Second off, there’s no point defining success unless it can be measured objectively—and preferably in terms of outcomes rather than outputs (quantifiable results). This way everyone understands exactly what “good” looks like when describing progress toward achieving goals.
  • Thirdly but not last, if people don’t know which behaviors are valued then how does anyone know whether their contributions are actually helping achieve those outcomes?

Align rewards with desired outcomes

A culture shift is a challenging process and rewards are important for supporting new behaviors. You may want to consider what kind of rewards would incentivize the desired outcomes, whether that’s improved performance or just a better overall experience for employees. Rewards can be monetary, but they don’t have to be. They can also be non-monetary: providing opportunities for growth or flexibility in how you work; fostering collaboration and communication between departments; offering additional training; etc. Retaining employees through incentive programs can generate a 25% to 85% increase in profitability

Rewards should also be framed as long-term goals instead of short-term wins (like hitting a sales target). These goals will help drive commitment and motivation over time, which will ultimately contribute more directly towards achieving your final goal than any one single achievement could do on its own.

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Make culture change an HR priority, give it a seat at the table

It is important for HR to have a seat at the table. It shouldn’t be an afterthought but instead should be an integral part of making culture change happen.

Here are some things you can do:

Make sure your employees understand the importance of their role in creating and maintaining a great workplace culture. You can do this by holding regular town hall meetings, conducting surveys, and asking for feedback from employees at all levels of your organization.

Give HR a budget so it can provide resources for initiatives such as training programs on harassment prevention or unconscious bias facilitation workshops. This will help ensure that everyone knows what’s expected of them, which will reduce friction between departments when it comes time to implement new policies or procedures around diversity initiatives like hiring managers being trained on how not to discriminate against candidates based on gender identity/expression or race/ethnicity (or any other protected class).

Make sure there’s enough staffing dedicated specifically towards supporting employee wellness initiatives such as flu vaccination clinics or yoga classes during lunch breaks.

Support a culture of iterating on feedback

You may not realize it, but everyone you interact with has an opinion on how you could do your job better. And it’s actually a gift: feedback is the most valuable tool we have for getting better at something.

To create a culture of iteration and improvement, encourage your team members to take in feedback and make changes based on what they hear from their customers or colleagues. This helps them improve over time and grow as individuals, as well as giving them more confidence in their work when they know that what they’re doing is working!

Capitalize on culture change

In this age of constant change, it’s important to be prepared. Change is no longer a bad thing—it’s just a reality that we need to learn how to navigate. The good news is that not only can change be a great thing and help improve your business or brand, it can also be a terrible thing which means there’s ample opportunity for you to capitalize on it!

We’ve heard that culture is the way we do things around here. That culture is the way we think about ourselves. That culture is the way we treat each other. That culture is the way we treat our customers and suppliers alike. But what does all of that mean? And how do you build a digital first company?

Conclusion

In the end, culture is a journey. It’s not something you can change overnight. But it’s something that you can change, starting today. The best way to do that is to get started on the right path with a few small but important steps: define success and support it from the top; align rewards with desired outcomes; make culture an HR priority, give it a seat at the table; support a culture of iterating on feedback. If you’re interested in changing your company culture, consider how digital coaching could help transition.

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