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transformational change.


A leader's guide to culture transformation

Organisational culture is a topic which often presents a challenge for leaders, and understandably so. Its intangible and abstract nature not only make it hard to define, culture is also shaped by internal and external factors which means it constantly evolves and changes. 

  • AUTHOR|Silke Brittain
  • DATE|30 Jun 2023
  • READ TIME|5 min read

As a result, it is difficult to measure and manage culture and leaders find it hard to gain executive commitment to invest the necessary time, effort and resources.

Yet we all know and recognise the importance of organisational culture, how it shapes the way a workforce interacts and the impact it has on our growth.

So how do you develop and implement a culture strategy where people willingly join in your transformation journey?

Well, effective culture transformation requires a clear understanding of your current culture, a vision for your desired culture, and a plan to bridge the gap between the two, as well as some clear actions around executive commitment, alignment and involvement to bring it to life and make it stick.

Gain an understanding of your current culture

Leaders must be aware of your current culture’s strengths and weaknesses – this comprehensive understanding of your current state is vital for identifying areas for improvement. The key aspects to assess are your organisation’s:

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviours
  • Communication patterns

It’s essential to involve employees in the assessment process to gain a more accurate understanding of the culture and identify areas for improvement from the people who live and breathe it on a daily basis.

Create a vision for your ‘desired culture’

Once you’ve completed the fact-finding mission of understanding the state of your current culture, leaders should create a vision for the desired culture that aligns with the organisation’s goals and values.

This vision should be clear, concise, and easy to communicate to employees. This is important as a huge part of culture transformation is to inspire employees and create a shared sense of purpose and direction for the organisation.

Bridge the gap between current and future

Next up, it’s time to develop a plan to bridge the gap between your current and desired culture.

The plan should include:

  • Specific actions
  • Timelines
  • Metrics to track progress

Leaders should involve employees in the implementation process to ensure buy-in and engagement.

Create a sense of urgency

In order to make a change, you need to create a sense of urgency.

Urgency is the feeling that something needs to be done, now. It’s important because it helps you prioritise what to do first and second, instead of wasting time on things that don’t matter as much.

To create urgency around culture change, consider:

  • Clearly communicating why it’s important and how it will impact the organisation immediately and in the future. For example: “If we don’t start making these changes now, then we will struggle to hire and retain, and our competitors will overtake us.”
  • Creating metrics related to your business goals so everyone knows how their actions can have a direct impact. For example: “If we increase our customer satisfaction score by 5%, then sales go up by 10%.”

Choose your approach once goals are established

A top-down approach can be effective for some companies, but it’s not always the best choice. In fact, it’s often better to start with a bottom-up approach and then move to a top-down one once you have established your goals and strategies.

This is because people are more likely to buy into change if they’re involved in creating that change themselves – and this can be especially true when there is no clear leader or vision behind what you want to achieve.

Bringing your people along on the journey of mapping out what you want your culture to look like after the transformation process is a surefire way to get a stronger level of engagement and better buy-in – which is vital to success.

Get buy-in from all teams

As just mentioned, the importance of this cannot be underestimated.

Managers must have buy-in from their teams when it comes to implementing new processes and procedures as part of culture change. If employees do not feel like they are being listened to, or if they feel like the process is being forced on them, they will likely resist change.

The people in your organisation are both the biggest limiter and enabler of cultural change.

When communicating with your team about new initiatives, ask yourself: “Will I listen to their feedback?” Can you adapt based on what people say? Whether it’s implementing a new system or changing how employees service your customers, managers must make sure that their teams know that they value their opinion as well as their input for making improvements down the road.

Keep up your communication

Communication is key when you’re trying to evolve an organisation’s culture or change your ways of working. You need to communicate the vision, strategy, purpose and benefits of change in order to get people on board with it. You also need urgency because change won’t happen unless there is a sense of urgency among employees–and urgency comes from communicating impact as well as importance.

In addition to communicating these things effectively, you have to make sure that everyone understands how important this change process is for them personally as well as for their company or organisation overall.


Culture transformation is a complex process that requires leadership, commitment, and a clear plan of action.

By understanding your current culture, creating a vision for the desired culture, and developing a plan to bridge the gap, leaders can positively influence their organisation’s culture and ensure your next major transformation project is a success.


Silke is Partner for People and Culture at Org. With over 20 years’ experience, Silke devises global change, engagement and behavioural change strategies, leading teams on people engagement, systems and digital transformation, and cultural and behavioural change projects and programmes.

Silke has designed effective change management, performance improvement, communication, HR and culture change solutions for multi-national brands.


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