Neue Unternehmenskultur

Changes in corporate culture must be reflected in new conduct //

Many Fundamental Revitalization Initiatives Fail

One of the bitterest experiences for managers in the last 20 years has been the failure of ‘corporate culture projects.’ Whether they were launched under the banner of changing values or fundamental change, the results were always disappointing and sometimes even shocking. Pithy messages about new company values and the rhetoric of sophisticated company principles simply went up in smoke without having a lasting effect. People’s inertia and their tendency to cling to familiar patterns of behavior were much stronger than these formal appeals for change.

The reasons for the failure of these programs are many and varied, and they can only be avoided if the upper echelons of management manage to drive their strategies home strongly enough to affect people’s conduct, from the top to the bottom of the organization.

Dr. Robert Becker

“Strategies should be developed rationally and lived out emotionally!”

Dr. Robert Becker

Company Culture and Work Environment //

In the context of interpersonal relationships in the office, shared phenomena develop; the most visible, palpable expression of these phenomena is ‘collective behavior.’ And that is exactly what the construct of ‘corporate culture’ embodies. In addition to the values that are ‘acted out,’ the predominant attitudes, emotions, and prevailing mood, it particularly comprises people’s typical patterns of behavior.

The special cultural characteristics of a company shape what is ‘typical’ for that company: the visible, palpable elements of people’s conduct – particularly how they interact with one another – whether they are among colleagues, dealing with managers and employees, or interacting with clients and partners.

Pathological behaviors destroy trust and motivation //

Toxic Work Environments Destroy Performance
and Trust

In many companies, the work environment is ‘culturally’ toxic. People feel as though they are not being properly informed, and that they are being deceived and betrayed. They are punished or disregarded for taking the initiative. Pursuit of departmental interests is tolerated, and the rules of the game are ignored. Many processes are slow and ineffective, rigid and bureaucratic. Small-minded management of conduct weakens performance and destroys people’s motivation. Inefficiency is tolerated, and there are no consequences for poor performance. ‘Spreadsheet management’ is the name of the game, and initiatives for revitalizing the company are received with cynicism.

Even without these motivation roadblocks, many companies still have great difficulty overcoming their inward orientation in favor of a more pronounced focus on markets and customers.

Cultural change places the highest demands on the work environment //

When patterns of collective behavior torpedo motivation and competitiveness, management must face up to the challenge of making fundamental changes in the work environment. In bureaucratic working environments, it is impossible to simply command people to develop an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit. And no one in a strongly centralized organization is surprised when decentralized units only do the bare minimum required of them. On the other hand, completely decentralized organizations have little use for standards and systems.

Factors that Help Corporate Culture Develop

Management’s fundamental task is to create and maintain a work environment in which development of a corporate culture in the spirit of the target values can occur. In this respect, it should be emphasized that cultural change requires both foresight and thoughtfulness. Only when a framework is created by good organization, proper management, effective human resources programs, and exemplary leadership can the desired form of conduct develop and solidify over time.

Driving Cultural Change with an Integrated Agenda //

The manager’s will to lead and create and to assemble a management team that acts in solidarity are the primary requirements for successful cultural change. Management must drive an integrated agenda of revitalization down to the level of individual employee conduct – it is the only way that such an ambitious project will succeed.

In the process, all company design parameters – organization, processes, HR, and management – must be intelligently integrated with one another.

First-line managers, in particular, play a key role here. They are the ones who work cheek by jowl with their employees to reorient day-to-day operations to conform to the new values and goals.

Learn more about our approach in our example project

Contact //


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© BBH GmbH // Strategy & Innovation