3 ways to identify if your business culture is changing

What is going on? There is a sudden rise in staff turnover, and it feels like it is coming out of nowhere. The sudden change has instigated the executive team to ask the question.

After some delicate conversations, exit interviews, and honest feedback there is a pattern emerging. An understanding that certain behaviours were being demonstrated that resulted in the culture changing, and not for the better.

This is a common story among leaders.

It is common for leaders to only realise the change in culture when the damage is already done. Top performers have left, customers have started to complain, and the competitive advantage you once had has gone.

Because of this, it is so important for all leaders to realise the change quickly, know how to identify the behaviours accurately so they can disrupt the pattern of change and put into place strategies to fix it before they see the consequences of the negative impact.

It is well known that culture is an important part of a company’s identity and its success.

It is well known that culture is an important part of a company’s identity and its success. A positive culture delivers strong results, consistent performance, and an engaged and happy workforce. On the other hand, a negative culture makes it harder for companies to attract and retain high quality talent and compete as a market leader in their industry.

So, how can you be aware of your culture and how it transforms over time? If you think you culture will not change, it will. The wrong hire, a bad decision, the inaction of a leader, the loss of top talent. Something will happen and you need to be acutely aware of it.

There are three key signs to look out for to know if your culture is transforming:

1. A change in employee engagement

Has the laughter stopped? Is there tension in meetings? Have the social engagements reduced? Is there silence, especially from your top performers? If this sounds familiar then be aware, your culture is changing.  

It is simple, the more engaged your employees are, the better your culture is. When your employees are happy, fulfilled, and engaged the feeling of contentment can be felt in formal and informal social gatherings, meetings, and on your communication channels. Conversations run freely, people want to proactively get involved and contribute, smiles are everywhere.

How can you know if your employees are engaged? Take a step back and watch your surroundings. Look at people’s faces on your video or face to face meetings, be aware of voluntary attendance to social events, watch the behaviour of staff in meetings and how they choose to contribute. Ask for feedback, silence is a strong indication of unease and unhappiness.

2. A change in performance

When employees are engaged their productivity increases. They want to proactively contribute ideas and solutions and look for ways to improve performance. They are eager to deliver to customers and be recognised for their efforts. When the culture changes employees become disenchanted and find it a chore to perform like they used to. The simple tasks seem daunting and the methodology just a task to tick off. They question their value in the business.

Are you aware of when the performance changes? There is a fine line in monitoring performance and over managing your team, so this is an important aspect to consider. If you are already monitoring and aware of the business performance, you can identify issues early on. If you are not, you should monitor performance. Not only will it help you identify issues, it can also help you recognise and reward high performance, and identify solutions to grow your business.  

Check the performance levels over time and evaluate the quality of the methodology they are doing. You will not see a pattern in just one day or week, you need to view it over the course of a month as a minimum. Is there a change in the level of energy they put into their performance? Are they proud of their work and putting consistent effort into it? Are results being delivered?

3. A change in staff retention

When people are not aligned to the culture, they become disengaged and commonly make the decision to leave. When they are aligned to the culture, they become even more engaged and commit to the company.

Staff turnover is the final and most significant identifying factor for a change in culture. Staff turnover is finite. When your staff leave the financial investment has gone, the skills and experience have left, and the noise in the market starts to make an impact on your reputation, and your customers start to question your capabilities.  

Once you start seeing staff turnover rise the issues have been on the rise for some time. The commitment and workload to improve your culture once this happens is quite significant.

If this is the case it is important to review your staff turnover statistics and analyse the trends of which department and team is having the most turnover. What is the feedback in exit interview and what is the feedback from the remaining team members? This indicates a significant issue that needs to be rectified and quickly.

Culture drives results.

Culture drives results. The behaviour and actions accepted from your leadership team sets the standard of performance and culture across the business. It is this culture and level of performance that drives the outcomes that delivers the strong results.

Take the time to review your culture regularly. If you leave it too late you miss the opportunity to rectify the small issues quickly. If you have left it too late and have noticed the three points above use the resources and support of your human resources team, specialised consultants, and qualified coaches. It is never too late to change a culture.

Hunton Executive can help you understand your current business culture and help you create an improved culture through your recruitment and talent management frameworks with our workforce consulting services. 

For a comprehensive guide to attracting, recruiting, and retaining your talent contact Hunton Executive.


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