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Three "M"s of Making Cultural Changes Successful

Three "M"s of Making Cultural Changes Successful

Organizational culture is a hot topic within human resources departments as it can impact all aspects of a company’s operations. In recent posts, we have discussed our search consultants’ perspectives of corporate culture and how it significantly affects a company’s recruitment, engagement and retention of employees, especially those in senior executive leadership.

Recently, Human Capital Institute held a webcast that discussed what many companies struggle with in initiating cultural changes – how to get those changes to successfully stick. With 70% of these programs failing, this is an important issue to address. Why are so many of these plans unsuccessful?

Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Psychologist and Founder of RoundPegg, and speaker of the webcast, explains that there are three critical components and associated actions of successful cultural change initiatives:


This is the first essential step in any cultural change initiative – finding out where you are starting from by taking the time to learn the core values of your valued employees. By determining what is important to people at levels within your organization, you can align your culture effectively. And Baumgartner says not to be surprised that values can differ by level, function and, if your company has multiple offices, by location as well.


Once you have a list of your employees’ core values, simplify them as best you can and narrow them down to 1-3 values so that you can methodically adjust your organization’s recruitment, engagement and retention around a manageable list. Focusing on these main values, apply them to your organization’s:

  • Communication: Reinforce your company’s values in all written and oral communication using the actual keywords of those values. This will ultimately create a “company culture language” that is unique to your own organization.
  • Hiring processes: Assimilate your organization’s values into your hiring and recruitment processes and how you assess potential employees. Standardize how you evaluate candidates and qualify their values. Create culture gatekeepers and avoid hiring people who are not strong cultural fits. Baumgartner suggests that you apply your core values to your onboarding process within 72 hours of an employee beginning employment.
  • Employee Development / Engagement: Let your core values guide how you develop and engage your employees, and create a roadmap for success within your organization. For example, if your employees want to be challenged, give them projects that stretch and expand their abilities. If they want more work / life balance, provide them certain perks that support them in achieving it. Play to your employees’ strengths and reward core values.


Establishing metrics on how your progress will be tracked is critical. Baumgartner says for cultural change to be successful, you must be able to demonstrate that you are actually making positive changes to your culture that people can see and experience. Consider and measure: Are people more engaged and satisfied? Are they more productive? Has retention improved? Is employee selection more refined? Are you hiring people who are cultural fits?

Making cultural changes is no easy feat but by taking these three Ms into consideration and addressing them, you can support your organization in accomplishing its objectives. From there, positive changes will continue to filter into all aspects of your company’s operations.

Source: HCI webcast entitled "How To Get A Culture Change To Successfully Stick"