Changing the Culture  

Question: I have been a small business owner for the past five years. We are starting to grow and need to add personnel. What do I need to be aware of in addressing the culture of my company as it grows?

Answer: The best source of organizational culture change available recently is vested in a book titled, Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan and John King. The authors talk about organizations in terms of tribes. The first question is, what stage defines your company? What defines the culture of your organization? Whatever the answer, it’s the language and the personal behavior that defines the stage. How the people in your organization talk and act.

There are five stages in tribal culture: Stage one – Life sucks, Stage two – My life sucks- the boss is an idiot, Stage three – I’m great, you’re not – it’s all about me, Stage four – We’re great. They are not. Stage five – Life’s Great! What stage are you in? Is your organization in more than one? Of course, you are since each person is different, they have varying roles and perceive the organization differently. Each employee is in a different stage, and you need to recognize the stage and adapt your management style to move them from stage to stage and most importantly dealing with stage one and two employees since they are lethal to growing organizations

As your organization grows, you need to challenge your core assumptions. Why are you in business? Who is your target market? Is it the same or different than when you started your enterprise? What skills are needed now that we’re not needed when you started up your operation? Then, ask yourself, what’s the real goal of your business? What is the value proposition that drives you? Is different or the same? And, then what are your key success factors? How do you know if you are successful? Is it money in the bank? Is it satisfied customers who readily refer you? Is it winning awards? You need to define success in the different stages of business growth.

What are the core values that drive you and your team to succeed? Communication, Collaboration, Partnering, Making a difference, Lifelong Learning. Your brand represents these values to your customers and prospects, as well as your employees and investors.

How do you take your growing entity to the next level? It’s all about the language you use. It’s all about stepping back and assessing each person on your team and what you need, what they need and then taking action. The tribe is more productive when we understand the players.

So what are the actions? (1) Meet people where they are and listen to them– listen to them, (2) carefully, slowly, model the next stage and (3) Reaffirm your values.

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