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Changing a team’s culture

Posted: 17th April 2014

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Posted on 17th April 2014 in Blog, Doing the right things better, Goals, Motivation, Performance, Working with others

Author: Ben Hunt-Davis


We are often asked “How long does it take to change a culture within a team or an organisation?” – clearly it’s an impossible question to answer.

Change Management

For the team that Ben Hunt-Davis was part of when he won the Olympic Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, it took a long time. The team worked through a period of 2 years of continuouschange management, to be able to deliver what they wanted to deliver, and they continued to build the culture as they went. It was very much an ongoing process.

For us, the real question should be framed slightly different – how much time and energy are you willing to put into culture change within your business or your organisation?

Here’s Ben on changing a team’s culture

Changing Team Culture

Whether you’re trying to change team culture in your business, from a Silo culture to a much more open culture, whether you’re trying to change your sales peoples’ mode of operation from a traditional sales approach to being far more consultative – if you’re going to be successful, people have got to understand the vision – where they are trying to go and what the Crazy goal is.

Team Performance

You must also help people work out what’s in it for them – this is an essential driver of change and of improvements in team performance. Why should your people go through the difficulty and awkwardness of doing things differently without knowing how they are going to benefit?

So the initial question is one of commitment. Will you have a big initial meeting and talk about it, and then let the subject fade into the background over time? That allows your teams to say “told you so” when they air their views that this is just another “initiative” doomed to be forgotten about within 3 months. In terms of managing your teams, how will you ensure that they are fully invested in your programme ofculture change and the necessary attention to every detail in terms of daily habits?

Organisational Change

Or will you see it through the whole way? Have you got the time and energy to work through the process to its successful completion?

Perhaps, when it comes to instigating organisational change, you need to look for the smaller opportunities.

For instance, would it be more effective for you to look at getting small project teams modelling the new behaviours, and seeing through the entire process from start to finish, so that from there you can roll the changes out across the organisation – when people can see that it works?

What are your thoughts on the obstacles that lie in the way of changing a team’s culture for the long term?

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