What does it take to transform an organization’s culture?

By: SparkUs Team

cultural change

Organizational culture is defined as the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.

Culture also includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits (Needle, 2004).

Simply stated, organizational culture is “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000).

Challenges in transforming organization culture.

Changing organizational culture is not an easy undertaking. Because culture is mainly shaped by people, often the most common challenges are also related to them. Employees often resist change and can stand against a new culture. The common challenges include:

  • Resistance to change
  • Lack of commitment and reinforcement
  • Rigid organizational structures
  • Improper communication of the purpose
  • Non-involvement of the leaders.

Also, it is the duty of leaders to convince their employees of the benefits of change and show through collective experience with new behaviors that the new culture is the best way to operate to yield success.

What to do to achieve a smooth transition and acceptance?

‘Acceptance of change’ as a part of corporate culture implies that people should be ready and optimistic towards any kind of change, rather than be worried about their implementation. This is where organization leaders play the most important role – to identify the necessary changes, to introduce them within the workforce, to justify them to the employees and most importantly to deliver what is promised out of those changes. Some steps the organization and its leaders can take are:

  •  Formulate a clear strategic vision.
  •  Display top-management commitment.
  •  Model culture changes at the highest level.
  • Modify the organization to support organizational change.
  • Select and socialize newcomers into the culture.
  •  Develop ethical and legal sensitivity

How can coaching employees help?

An essential part of effective cultural transformation change is to continually reinforce the “urgent call for action”, the vision for the future, and then registering a critical mass of the organization in that future.

This is achieved not only by having an inclusive communication plan in place but also by investing in effective coaching solutions/programs.

Why Coaching?

Working one-to-one with an expert business coach has been proven to be the most effective way to apply new skills on the job, quickly and productively. In case studies where coaching was added to training experiences, productivity rose 88%. Without coaching productivity rose only 22%.

(Source: “Effects on Productivity in a Public Agency,” Public Personnel Management)

The aim of coaching in such scenarios is to help people work through the consequences of the change themselves, without telling them what to do. This helps them create the change for themselves, and thus become co-creators of the change. People are more likely to support what they themselves create.

Coaching programs during the cultural transformation phase has several objectives. It can be used to communicate the need for change and to train people in new processes and procedures.

The biggest benefit to change management, though, is the effectiveness of targeted coaching in managing and eliminating resistance to change.


Brian Chesky, the Co-founder and CEO of AirBnb, once said that culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion. We can all agree, as it’s the people who have the real ability to make a culture great.

Hence, improving company culture should be everyone’s responsibility. Your culture doesn’t only concern those working for the company, but has an impact on your customers as well. To be able to better serve your existing and potential clients, you want to keep your standards high and work hard towards creating better solutions and services for them because that’s what it is ultimately about.

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