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The 5 Stages of Company Culture Transformation

Written by CultureCon Guest Blogger Jessica Holsapple, Operations Coach and Trainer of Systems Culture Growth Consulting Group.

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Company culture is the personality of the organization. It goes beyond what’s written in the company values and what’s sold to employees and customers at the front door. It’s what actually takes place behind the scenes, it’s the unspoken. The culture of an organization consists of what behaviors are accepted and rewarded, how decisions are made, how progress happens, who has authority, what actually transpires in the day to day activities including how team collaboration (or lack thereof) goes down. It’s what’s discussed around the water cooler and it’s in the air that everyone in the company breathes.

Great company culture is pleasant, energizing, high-performing, rewarding, positive, light and fun. In a great culture, employees, managers and owners have a sense of purpose and drive to accomplish great things, together as a team. The business and everyone in it celebrates wins and strives to do what's best for the company as a whole. Employees are not engaging in drama, and the operation is not bogged down by excessive issues or internal conflict. Everyone is focused on the clients, customers, products and services. Walking into a great company culture leaves you feeling like the people there are in it to win it.

Poor Company Culture is the opposite. Tensions are high and the air feels like you could cut it with a knife. There is turnover, gossip, underperformance, absenteeism, tardiness and other issues bogging down the daily operations. Owners, managers and clients are frustrated and lack confidence that things will change.

Poor company culture costs businesses thousands of dollars per person when it results in turnover and more when poor behavior and performance stays and lingers. One in five Americans leaves a workplace due to poor company culture, costing American businesses over $223 Billion in turnover costs according to SHRM. Many business owners and employees complain of a toxic culture but don’t think it can be fixed. In most cases, it can be, if the leaders are ready.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”- Simon Sinek

Poor company culture is insidious and costly, and to turn it around, important shifts need to occur. A toxic or underperforming company culture needs transformational change. Transformational change is the process of creating significant change, a 180 degree turn that results in positive, long lasting behavior and performance improvement. This type of change is necessary to tackle the big issues that impede you or your organization from achieving the desired results. Transformational change can produce significant improvement in performance but requires intentional action with clear direction.

The kind of change needed for true transformation requires attentiveness and transformational Leadership- the guidance through change that creates sustainable, positive, long-lasting results.

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don't belong.” ― Mandy Hale

We are all inhabitants of a changing world. We have the choice to embrace the need to change, avoid the need for change, or actively turn our backs and run from it. Transformational change re-structures the pattern of how things previously were - the things that weren’t working - and changes the trajectory for improved out