Companies and teams should consider a cultural shift to help improve their results, but what do we mean by that? This cultural shift definition can give you some insights to get you started.
Because your culture is made up of the sum of all employees and team members’ beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, a shift in your culture will require you a shift individual belief, thought, and behaviors. Start by defining what is your desired belief, thoughts and behaviors that you want to see on your team so that you know what your future state is that you are creating.
By behaviors we mean by what people do or say or the actions that they take. Once you know what the behaviors are that you would like to have in your culture, it’s important to reward people for doing those desired behaviors, and then intervening when they are not following those desired behaviors by offering an alternative with feedback and reinforcement of what a better action should be in each situation. It is really a basic “carrot and stick” exercise. In order to provide a carrot you have to define what you want to see in the first place. To be fair, if you’re going to use the stick, it is important that people know what is unacceptable and why it is unacceptable before you whack them.
What makes shifting peoples thoughts more challenging than shifting behaviors is that thoughts are invisible. In fact, thoughts are often a habit and programmed over a period of time, and how people think in different situations is unconsciously triggered by those situations. To change thought processes means that you will need to offer a variety of alternative ways to think, given different situations so that people can become more flexible in their own thinking. People will tend to gravitate toward thoughts that they processed before, whether or not it is the most productive, accurate or beneficial thought process. It’s what they know, and until they are willing to entrain a different way of thinking they will probably go back to that thought process again. So your job is to give feedback and share alternative perspective to broaden their thinking, and then similar to that, in shifting behavior. Then provide feedback and reinforcement to make sure the thought processes are desirable for the culture you are creating.
Beliefs are even more challenging than thoughts because not only are they invisible but they run deeper than thought processes do. In fact, often times a thought reinforced over and over and over will eventually become a new belief and our core beliefs shape how we think about things. Because our thought processes align with our beliefs, we often begin the process of moving culture by deep analysis to understand the beliefs in the organization and redefining beliefs to align with the culture we want to create.
Each individual created their own beliefs. They may have had influence from their parents and family growing up, or from other influential people in there lives, perhaps from their religion, their teachers or their friends. The way beliefs are formed in our unconscious mind takes on the job of reasonability to protect us and given a partial situation that we experience. Our unconscious mind assigns a meaning to that situation that over time anchors into an unconscious belief.
Of course this could have happened when you were 2 or 3 years old and has been continually reinforced through out your life. So to shift beliefs is actually quite a process that may require some advanced interventions.
This is why when we lead culture shifting work we draw attention to the process of shifting beliefs, shifting thoughts, and shifting behaviors, but then focus on the desired behaviors and thought processes because they are easier for a supervisor to mold within their team than core beliefs are. Then as they encounter challenging situations, we can help them as needed to work on shifting beliefs.