Change Mindsets to Change Culture

Change Mindsets to Change Culture

Like human beings, organizations also have habits of their own culture, customs & personalities and therefore it is very difficult to move forward with such current set of habits. Many Organizations are trying to evolve in order to maintain the quality of service/products, profitability, reduce cost, etc however this is not possible unless the organization (or let’s put it this way TOP MANAGEMENT) is not committed to change from current set of habits to better set of habits.

Many organizations culture are mis-aligned with its goals due to lack of right direction, no delegation of authority or responsibility, departments or people working in silos, fear of skepticism, etc and therefore changing a culture becomes difficult. Changing the habits/mindsets of people is the hardest part in Transformation journey.  Mindsets frame the running of the whole interpretation process & it acts as the guide during this process. The “fixed mindset” creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging while the “growth mindset” is constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Although they’re sensitive to the positive & negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive actions like What can I learn from this? How can I improve?

Changing people’s mindsets or behavior can happen in two ways:

  1. By forcing behavior change or
  2. By influencing their behavior change

Both kind of techniques are used by management depending upon the work culture or customs or personality traits of ‘top management’ as well as of the ‘organization’.  Both the techniques has its own pros & cons but let’s have a look at the 3 main keys to influence the behavior change or the habit as it has profound impact on both people & organizational goals.

1. Physical workplace environment: You all will agree that the physical workplace environment can have huge impact on the way you think or act. Environment plays a crucial role when you look at behavior because your brain reacts profoundly to its surrounding/physical environment.

2. Standards/Process: Established standards and written codes of ethical conduct can help bolster virtuous values and promote ethical organizational behavior. Standards or Process usually incorporate specific guidelines for acting within specific functional workplace areas.

3. Measurement: There is a famous quote by H James Harrington which says “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” What you measure is what you get and therefore how you measure the mindset/culture change should be part of your overall change management strategy. You can look at few indicators to focus on depending upon the type of change effort e.g.: approach, attitude, perception, ownership, etc. and the list can go on but they should converge to measure organizational mindset with respect to the change effort.

Edgar Schein is the author of Organizational Culture and Leadership. In his book, he writes about changing culture and mindset through embedding mechanisms.

Primary embedding mechanisms

  • What leaders (are observed to) pay attention to, measure, and control on a regular basis
  • How leaders (are observed to) react to critical incidents and organizational crises
  • Observed criteria by which leaders allocate scarce resources
  • Deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching
  • Observed criteria by which leaders allocate rewards and status
  • Observed criteria by which leaders recruit, select, promote, retire, and excommunicate organizational members

There are also secondary embedding mechanisms, which will not change mindset or culture alone, but if used, need to be consistent with the primary embedding mechanisms.

Secondary embedding mechanisms

  • Organizational design and structure
  • Organizational systems and procedures
  • Organizational rites and rituals
  • Design of physical space, facades, and buildings
  • Stories, legends, and myths about people and events
  • Formal statements about organizational philosophy, values, and creed

So the bottom-line is if you want to change culture change mindsets/habits of people.

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