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Toxic Work Culture Series: Evolution Theory

Within the past two weeks, CPR introduced the concept of organizational culture and renowned researcher Edgar Schein, the father of Organizational Culture. Schein purports that a leader has three options when new to an organization. The leader can (1) maintain and ignore the culture regardless of its toxicity, (2) dismantle it and start from the beginning, or (3) evolve with the culture. Today's post scrutinizes the Evolution Theory relating to Organization Culture. According to Schein (1952), a new leader evolves with the organization's culture over time. Let's explore this further.

Like many corporations, new leaders assume the roles of CEOs daily, whether new to the organization or an employee within the corporation that assumed the leadership position as CEO. For a small business owner, the same applies. In all situations, Schein contends, the leader must assume a leadership posture of curiosity that requires observing, meeting, interviewing, reviewing, understanding, and convening with the new Executive team. The new leader must be objective and driven by data, observations, and other findings. This includes allowing all quarterly, semi-annual, and annual reports to sing. Singing in this situation represents telling a story of the unknown. There are reasons behind every report, issue, success, and downfall. The report singing is symbolic of a tune that paints a picture of the occurrences, successes, and failures. Upon careful review of the data, the culture within the organization emerges. It is the culture of an organization that makes it distinct from others. An organization's culture will signal the next step for the new leader.

Changing the culture within the organization is the most challenging mission a leader will be required to do, but it is not impossible. Questions such as why the organization's culture is harmful or toxic? Who is responsible for its toxicity? What can be done to change its OC? Throughout the new leader's journey, the leader may unearth that the current culture is not toxic and that the employees are reasonably happy during the discovery stage. However, It may reveal that your OC needs to be aligned with your mission, vision, goals, and objectives. You may need to make some adjustments to the current culture to support the goals and efficacy of your organization, or you may need to do an entire culture revamp. Even after discovering that the organization’s culture may be the root cause of missed opportunities and effective processes, it is a complex challenge that will take proactive planning with constant and conscious devotion to change. Throughout the evolution process, the new leader must start taking note of what is going on, assume necessary risks that will allow him to see more clearly, and not be afraid to enlist the assistance of a consultant. Once the leader recognizes that change is needed concerning the current culture, it is the first step toward fostering a healthy and productive work environment.

To commence the process, you must provide reasonable expectations for your employees to obtain an effective culture change. Use focus groups to establish roles and responsibilities. Your mission or vision statements should incorporate language about accountability. Then comes frequent follow-up to ensure accountability. This step is applied to ensure correction among all members. You may need to redesign your reward and recognition system to encourage the behaviors of the new organizational behavior change. You must ensure that your current work system is structured to the desired culture, such as employee hiring selection, promotions, and performance management.

One of my colleagues reported that her manager has a high turnover rate of employees. For a consultant, this is a tell-tale sign of a problem, more than likely OC. I made one key recommendation, which is the pre-screening process in the form of a fifty-question survey. For a candidate, fifty questions should not pose an issue if they are interested in the position. Candidates with a survey score of less than 80% are likely to leave within a month. Why? CPR's online surveys are customized and designed to capture real-life scenarios within the organization. The survey is carefully crafted to determine the employees' candid responses. Survey questions may also include comments for specific questions. If the prospective employee makes it beyond the pre-screening, the interviewer has the opportunity to have the interviewee expound on the responses during the interview stage. An organization that adopts such a process will astronomically lower or eliminate its turnover rate. Conversely, an organization that fails to capture an employee that may not be a good fit for the organization will continue to waste resources in terms of time and productivity, eventually leading to huge losses.

Changing your organizational culture can be done without a doubt; however, it takes time, commitment, follow-through, planning, and proper implementation. Continue to view the Consultant Proficiency Resources OC series that will assist you throughout your journey.

Warm Regards,


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