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5 Ways Leaders Nurture Company Culture When Times are Changing

Aug 09 , 2017

Company culture

Company culture is part intentional curation and part dynamics of the people who work there. It takes time to build a company culture that you're proud of. When major changes arise, either in the industry or within the company, you could find yourself back at square one. 

Businesses that not only survive but thrive in times of great change rely heavily on leaders throughout the company to hold steady at the helm and steer in the right direction no matter how rough the waters might become. 

#1: Keep Lines of Communication Open

Employees catch subtle clues more quickly than you might imagine. If there’s a sea of change up ahead, chances are someone knows about it. And when one person knows, it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows. Open lines of communication help keep the team together instead of scrambling to sort out the future. 

Communication that employees trust takes time to develop. It’s difficult to institute a new policy of transparency in the middle of a crisis. The best time to build that relationship is when things aren’t rocky. When your people know they can count on you in HR and other leaders throughout the company to have their back and take their concerns seriously, they’ll trust you when the waters get a bit choppy. 

#2: Find a Positive Angle . . . 

Sometimes, change leaves little to be happy about. That’s when the long view becomes important. Maybe work will be instead for a while. There might be a shakeup in the management change or the company could switch direction leaving many employees wondering about job security and company stability. That’s the time to find something to focus on that will, or should, survive the change. 

HR Bartender says company culture is one of those things. It doesn’t matter if the company switches from consulting to building widgets. Company culture, what you’ve worked so hard to create, runs deeper than what you do. It should survive whatever is on the horizon. Let that be your lighthouse in the storm. 

#3: . . . But Keep it Truthful

The quickest way to lose the trust of employees is to offer up promises or even suggestions of promises that the company can’t keep. Sometimes, company culture needs to change. Maybe that’s the eye of the storm in the first place. If so, honesty will take you much further than surprising everyone with a meeting in the conference room to announce that life as they know it will change course on a certain date. 

If your company wants to cultivate a better company culture, the time to prepare employees is now. Circle back to the positive angle and show them why it’s better. Be honest about what needs improvement and the steps you’ll take to implement change. 

Company culture

#4: Give Methods as Much Attention as Results

During times of great change, metrics can keep the HR ship afloat. They offer deeper insight than untracked habits and help you course-correct based on facts. HR Bartender explains that you should always “measure what you treasure.” 

By measuring not only what you do but how you do it, they explain, human resources can keep a tighter grip on “attrition, hiring, diversity, engagement,” and so on. When change ripples through the company, fall back on metrics to help you measure successes and rework processes based on past performance and strategies—what worked and what didn’t. That way, you can keep the talent you've got and attract more of the best throughout turbulent times. 

#5: Embrace Failures as an Inherent Part of Innovation

Growing pains are bound to arise when a business sets off into uncharted waters. But innovation can thrive during times of change instead of dwindling off if leaders in the company embrace the whole innovation process instead of only celebrating successes. That’s how Amazon’s Jeff Bezos looks at innovation. 

Harvard Business Review explains that Bezos believes a “one-in-10 chance of making a 100X return on an investment” is a good bet. He wants his employees to take it every time. That requires a willingness to accept—never punish with a poor performance review—the nine failures that come first. Do that and you'll encourage steadfast employees to reach for the stars

Company culture can take years to develop. When seas of change ripple through your company, HR and every company leader hold more power than anyone else to help the culture survive what's ahead. Leaders are the anchor that employees rely on to keep them steady. 

If your company is headed into rough waters or you just want to learn more about building an employee base and culture to be proud of, contact us today.