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“They Say” – Part 1

So I was sure you are getting tired of hearing MY thoughts on food safety culture so I went looking for some other experts who can help you see things from another perspective. I hope you enjoy what THEY HAVE TO SAY.

Norm Sabapathy was the Executive Vice President of people at Cadillac Fairview Corp. He gives 10 tips for driving a culture change:

  1. Define desired values and behaviours. Do people understand them and how they relate to day-to-day behaviour? Come up with behavioural descriptors for each value you define and articulate how those would translate into actionable behaviours at all levels — from secretaries to middle managers to executives, Sabapathy advises.
  2. Align culture with strategy and processes.  Do your mission, vision and values line up with your HR processes, including hiring, performance management, compensation, benefits and the promotion of talent? 
  3. Connect culture and accountability. It is easy, particularly in difficult times, to forget the values you set in place to define your company, he says, citing Enron and WorldCom as examples. However, companies have a better chance at weathering disaster if they take responsibility for their actions, Sabapathy says. 
  4. Have visible proponents. For culture change to stick, it must be a priority of the CEO and board of directors. “Show the board a framework for understanding organizational culture and its impact on performance,” Sabapathy says. Work with the board to create a standing performance objective for the CEO that evaluates culture.
  5. Define the non-negotiables. When contemplating a culture change, look at your current culture and call out which aspects you want to retain. Determining what’s not up for debate is particularly important during mergers and acquisitions, when leaders of two or more organizations must figure out how to blend identities.
  6. Align your culture with your brand. Culture must resonate with both employees and the marketplace. To accomplish this, HR increasingly is partnering with marketing, he says. This is especially relevant in our current online world, where today’s bad customer experience can become tomorrow’s viral sensation.
  7. Measure your efforts. Help demonstrate the effectiveness of your efforts by implementing employee surveys and analysing gaps between desired and actual behaviour.
  8. Don’t rush it. Changing a culture can take anywhere from months to several years. Start by making sure there’s a clear rationale for why the company should change, he advises. 
  9. Invest now. Don’t wait for staff and resources that may never come. “It takes years of investment to get to that point where [your culture] just automatically becomes part of how you behave and act,” so begin whatever way you can. 

Be bold and lead. You don’t have to be in a position of influence to have influence. “When we step up, it encourages others to step up as well,” he says.